At the end of the year, a lot of us use some of the holiday down time to evaluate where we are in our careers and how much we want to stay with our current jobs or change to something different in the upcoming year. It is a healthy thing to do even if you end up doing nothing different and staying with whatever role or company you are with now.

There is a lot of great advice out there about job hunting, interviewing, and even career planning. In aggregate, though, sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming.

If you end up among the many who decide to begin a job search in 2018 in pursuit of your next big thing, here are two important but simple things you should make sure you do that will not only significantly increase your chances of finding a great new job but will also help you land one that you can feel good about long after the "new company halo effect" has worn off.

1. Go beyond job boards. Your relationship network is far more powerful than any job board.

I might simply be lucky, but in 20 years in the business world, I have never applied once for a job through a job board. Every job I have every gotten has been through relationships.

I got my first job after college through a friend of a friend. I got my first big break at Deloitte Consulting when the external consultant I worked with at my first job, with whom I had formed a really good working relationship, called a friend of his there and recommended me. When I decided to leave Deloitte, I got my first real leadership role from a referral from the Partner I used to report to at Deloitte who was now working closely with an SVP at this company, who ultimately hired me.

So on and so forth.

I'm not one of those "purple squirrels" or "unicorns" out there in the marketplace either - those technical geniuses who have a skill set that is so rare that this set of experiences is easily explainable.

The bottom line is that a lot of people have my skill set out there. Hopefully, I've proven to be pretty good at my job, but the reality is that my skill set isn't unique.

So how do you break through that?

A job board doesn't do it. Relationship connections do. With the relationship, you get opportunities that may not be posted yet or may not even be official roles at all. Even if the role is posted on the job board, you are coming into the equation through a relationship with someone who already has an established relationship with the company. That positive effect lands nicely on your head and gives you a leg up right from the start.

Once you get the opportunity, it certainly isn't a given. You still have to go through the interview and selection process, but you come in as a warm candidate as opposed to a name and a resume.

The great thing about the relationships is that you don't have to be an extroverted networking machine to build high-quality relationships that can be turned into new job opportunities. I'm an introvert who generally finds any reason I can to not attend the big networking event. For me, it has simply been about having some really high-quality relationships and genuinely and authentically managing those to create opportunities.

2. Remember that you are selecting a company as much as they are selecting you.

One of the things that is so easy to forget about interviewing and selection is that it is a two-way evaluation. Of course, the company will ultimately make the decision about whether they want you. You also make a pretty important decision, too. You are deciding if you want them.

Sometimes the allure of a new position, a step up in title or pay, or just a really cool career- opportunity blinds us a bit to other things about the company that we might not like as much. I personally experienced this in one of the leadership roles I took. It has always served as a reminder about just how important it is to evaluate and assess the company during the interview and selection process.

If a new job search is on your career horizon in 2018, remember these two simple things.

Published on: Dec 13, 2017