For many, changing jobs and/or leaving the industry you’re currently in to follow your heart tops the list of your New Year’s resolutions in 2023.

Polishing your personal brand on LinkedIn and optimizing the artificial intelligence that drives job boards and corporate application processes in January is a smart way to make this resolution a reality. 

If you fit this bill, check out these five tips to set yourself up for the career of your dreams in 2023! Even if you don’t have a desire to switch jobs right now, doing this work allows you to meet the moment when it arises and will put into motion job board analytics that will proactively bring cool career opportunities to you. 

Play Nice with the Robots 

According to a recent survey, 496 of the top 500 Fortune 500 companies use a form of artificial intelligence (AI) known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to sort through the resume pile that amasses from online applications. The AI “robot eyes” scan the resume for like terms, so make sure you customize your resume for EACH application by populating elements from the company’s job description or website (mission, culture) into your resume AND cover letter. Just like you wouldn’t wear the same outfit to the beach as you would the boardroom, avoid using the same generic resume for every application. Customize it to that job you’re going after.

Imagery is (almost) Everything 

Use a clear, bright, professional profile picture on LinkedIn. No pictures of you catching a big fish unless you’re applying for a job on a clamming boat! Likewise, for your LinkedIn cover photo, sunsets and industrial landscapes are appropriate. Kid pictures? Not so much.

Embrace the Gap 

Don’t spend too much time stressing over gaps in the resume. Every hiring manager is someone or knows someone who had a career pause because of a COVID layoff or a family illness that needed attention. Gaps in work time used to be the kiss of death but in these times, the stigma about people being out of work for an extended period of time has diminished to the point that you might even be applauded for having a good work/life balance by the hiring manager if you peeled off the rat race to help a sick parent or child. 

If you are no longer working for a company, put an end date on your current position and mark the duties you performed as being in the past tense. If you’ve been notified that you’re being laid off and you are still doing work to transition but have not ended your employment/contracting relationship yet, it is okay to keep that company as your current employer until that transition period comes to a close. 

The worst sin of all would be to fib about being gainfully employed when you are not. A customary background check will reveal the lie quickly, jeopardizing your chances of landing the job at the last moment of the process. 

The Art of Giving and Receiving Recommendations 

Gone are the days when you write, “references will be furnished upon request” at the bottom of your resume. References are now posted online in the “Recommendations” section of your LinkedIn profile, located on the bottom of the page. Get yourself familiar with that function if this is news to you. 

Good personal branding maintenance suggests 3-4 fresh recommendations from colleagues. If you are a manager, getting thoughtful recommendations from people who reported directly to you are much more valuable than a VP level person in your organization who might only have a remote awareness of you. Vendors, customers, and contractors who can speak about what it’s like to work for you are also valuable as recommendations. 

As the saying goes, “it is better to give than to receive;” it looks better for you if you’ve given more recommendations than you’ve gotten yourself, especially if you’re attempting to network yourself as a manager committed to developing people. Recommending people also makes them inclined to help your efforts in networking for the next big thing. 

Leave it to a Professional 

Back in the day, you could turn to your aunt the retired English teacher to edit your resume and be done with it. Nowadays, good grammar alone will not carry the day (blasphemy for a writer to say this, I know!). It’s an electronic world out there, so be sure to hire someone to both format your resume for the digital age and train you to use AI optimization as a critical advantage in this increasingly tightening job market. 

If any of these tips were valuable, I invite you to visit Career Letters for blogs about the current state of the job market and to leverage our experience boosting professional brands to get noticed amidst the digital noise out there. 

*Mike Farragher, host of the TAYSHT podcast on IrishCentral, has harnessed his VP-level hiring manager experience in biotech and his writing skills for outlets like IrishCentral to form Career Letters, a firm specializing in resume writing and LinkedIn optimization. For more information, visit