Get An Early Start on 2010 Job Search

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As the final quarter of 2009 looms, a Massachusetts-based recruiting firm put out a to-do list for finance and accounting professionals who want - or need - to move into a better job next year.

Following are eight items from that 10-point list issued by Winter, Wyman, the largest staffing firm in New England.

- Be on permanent alert for external and internal forces that might threaten your present job. Or in Winter Wyman's words: "Don't bury your head in the sand."

- Know your priorities, make a plan to achieve them, and share it with people you trust to provide a reality-check. That could include your spouse, a trusted colleague, or a mentor inside or outside your company.

- Network with both strangers and friends. Don't shy from asking for assistance and advice from anyone you happen to meet. For a finance department staffer, the next opportunity could come at a Financial Executives Institute or FENG (Financial Executives Networking Group) meeting, during a discussion with external auditors or in a meeting with a benefits consultant. Winter Wyman also recommends utilizing one's college online alumni network. And when approaching a new prospective contact, remember to ask for "advice" - don't say, "I'm looking for a job..."

- Focus your resume and references. Customize your documents for each opportunity you pursue. If you're fleeing the banking industry because of market conditions, emphasize broad skills that are used in all industries.

- Enhance your skill set through professional development classes and other educational activities - including those that strengthen interpersonal skills. Consider formal education too, like going for an MBA if you don't have one already.

- Get professional career coaching. Ask friends and colleagues fo referrals to professionals who specialize in your field.

- Plan for an employment disaster. That includes having an up-to-date inventory of your skills, training and education, as well as a "goals accomplished" list and talking points you can use to market yourself to the next employer - at a moment's notice if need be.

- Get active. While self-assessment and planning are essential, don't let these inward-looking tasks distract you from taking concrete steps to advance or change your career path.

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