It’s resolution time again and, for many, the start of a new year presents the incentive they need to kick-on with their career. Whether you’re a recent college graduate or a seasoned employee, looking for a new job can be stressful.

The maze of online job postings can make things even more confusing and it’s difficult to find the right position that fits your lifestyle and needs.

Seeking advice from experts on everything from how to look for a job to landing an interview and following-up with recruitment specialists, is important but there are some things you need to sort out beforehand.

To help you get started, we have compiled a list of handy hints.

1. Think about your skill sets rather than chasing a job title

Most people identify their role by what they’re currently doing which means looking up job titles on career directories. That’s fine if you’re happy with what you do but if you’re looking for a career change, a better strategy is to start by identifying your skills and then looking for jobs that match them.

2. Use online resources and company websites

Rather than returning to the same old jobs’ platforms, think about the companies you’d like to work for and look them up online. Many  will advertise job opportunities on their own websites. When using jobs platforms, rather than just searching for a specific position, also look for “similar jobs” or “suggested jobs”.

3. Narrow your search to the best options

Rather than applying for anything and everything that looks vaguely relevant, narrow your search to positions that fit most with your expertise and career goals. Do some research on the company to get a sense of its values and why employees do or don’t like working there.

4. Save the best listings for future reference

After you’ve applied for a job, copy and paste or print the listing for future reference. Many employers will remove a position once they’ve received enough applicants and saving a job description can help you prepare for an interview when you want to look back on the qualifications needed.

5. Customize your CV for each job you apply for

Even if you’re looking at jobs that are all within the same industry, it’s still important to tailor your CV so that it matches each specific job you apply to. By doing so, you give yourself a competitive edge.

6. Don’t simply repeat your CV in your covering letter

Rather than reading like a repeat of your CV, your covering letter should humanise your application, containing information about you as a person and why you think you’re right for the job. A bonus is to add a call to action, for example by saying “I look forward to connecting to discuss next steps,” so the employer gets an idea of how keen you are.  Even if the application doesn’t specifically ask for a covering letter, it doesn’t hurt to include one.

7. Prepare properly for your interview

Before going on an interview, always research the company you are interviewing with and the work they do; practice answering tough and common interview questions beforehand; and always look-up background information about the individual you’re interviewing with.

8. Always ask questions

Prep yourself on what information you want to know from the interviewer. If you don’t ask questions you run the risk of unintentionally appearing disengaged or uninterested. A good idea is to ask about the growth opportunities at the company or inquiring about the biggest challenges people face working there.

9. Send a ‘thank-you’ note

To really stand out and show your appreciation, send a follow-up note, thanking the interviewer(s) for taking time out of their schedule to meet you.You can send an email or a letter by post but make sure there are no grammatical errors and that all names are spelled correctly.

10. Don’t accept the job there and then

If offered the position, thank the employer for the opportunity and confirm when you’re required to accept. Rather than giving an answer right away, you should use the time to carefully consider if the offer is right for you and to assess whether you need to negotiate your salary.