Get Ready for the New Year: 9 Career-Boosting Activities to Start Now
By Paula Fitzsimmons
Hiring patterns change throughout the year. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but certain periods, like December, traditionally see slower activity, with a general uptick in hiring during January and February. Based on data from the Animal Jobs Digest Jobs section, animal care and protection jobs tend to follow this same pattern.
Why not use these slower times to prepare for the new year? You don’t need to try each of these – especially not all at once. But doing even one of these can potentially increase your chances of finding your dream animal job.
1. Continue to check job ads
Hiring may slow down during certain periods, but that doesn’t mean it comes to a complete standstill. Look at the Jobs section on this site, and you’ll see that animal welfare organizations – including rescues, sanctuaries, protection and conservation organizations – are indeed seeking talented employees throughout the year.
2. Craft a Letter of Introduction
Freelance writers (including yours truly) send Letters of Introduction (LOI) to editors and business managers in the hopes of landing new clients and assignments. It’s not just writers who send LOIs, either – it’s a useful tool anyone can use to locate potential employers. An LOI is basically a way for you to introduce yourself and shine – to let them know about your skills and experience, and how that knowledge can benefit their organization.
Even if a suitable job isn’t open at the time you send your LOI, they may keep you in mind for future openings. This has happened to me. I’ve sent out LOIs and queries, only to hear back months later.
3. Find contact names
You’ve penned a stellar LOI. But whom should you send it to? Addressing your letter to a generic name like “HR Director” or to a slush pile email address probably won’t garner many results. Taking the time to find an actual name – and email address – of the person responsible for hiring is time-consuming and requires a bit of detective work. But it’s worth it.
4. Prepare for interviews
You could be the most qualified applicant in the world, but it won’t mean much if you give a poor first impression. Some things to focus on . . .
• Examine your attire. This should go without saying, but several hiring managers have brought this issue up so it’s worth addressing. Dress for your interview as if you’re applying for a job at a business. That means no tee shirts, sandals, or yoga pants. You don’t need to look like you’re ready to walk a runway, but you should appear professional and well-kept.
• Research the organization. How much do you know about the organization you’re interviewing with? How long have they been in operation? What are their major accomplishments? What are they working on now? What are the names of leadership? These are aspects of the organization you should know before your interview.
• Be ready to answer potential questions. Think of some of the questions the hiring manager may ask you. While you don’t want to have canned answers – and do want to be conversational – you also don’t want to be caught off-guard.
5. Take an optional short course
When you take a non-required course, you not only learn new skills, but gain a potential edge when competing against dozens of other applicants – because employers like workers who show initiative. Community colleges, universities, online course platforms, and animal welfare organizations are excellent places to look for courses – from grantwriting and interpersonal communication, to animal shelter management and dog training.
Read my article for ideas on where to find free and low-cost training & educational opportunities.
6. Add to your reading list
Everyone learns differently. One of my favorite ways of discovering new ideas, people, and happenings is by reading. There are a ton of books on careers, jobs, and finding your passion. Reading is also an excellent way to gain a more in-depth understanding of an animal welfare issue, then say, from a social media post.
One book I’m current reading, and highly recommend is Wayne Pacelle’s (CEO of HSUS) The Humane Economy: How Innovators and Enlightened Consumers Are Transforming the Lives of Animals.As the title suggests, it’s about how capitalism has the power to positively impact animal welfare. This book reminds me of all the good that’s being done, and that each of us has the power to make change simply by being mindful consumers. (affiliate link)
I also have some other reading suggestions posted on my Resources page.
7. Update your LinkedIn profile
How’s your LinkedIn page looking? Fill in all the available options you can – including a standout summary, your education, job experience, volunteer activities, interests, skills, and endorsements. If you’re a writer or artist, add your portfolio.
8. Polish your resume and cover letter
Yes, even with the advent of LinkedIn, employers still ask for resumes and cover letters. What shape are yours in? There are plenty of resume and cover letting resources available – some good places to check include local community college or university career centers, and reputable online sources like Quintessential LiveCareer.
9. Make a list
Make a list of organizations you’d like to work for – not just the big nationals, either, but those that are more smaller and more regional. Or if you’re interested in a specific cause or type of animal, search for organizations focused on those. There are a lot of animal welfare organizations making large strides – many of whom I didn’t even realize existed until I started Animal Jobs Digest. How do you find these organizations? Aside from scouring Google, try searching directories and lists, like the ones compiled by World Animal Net and Charity Navigator.
Your turn: Which of these do you think you might try?