By Maurie Bachman

The Motley Fool, March 28, 2019.

January and February are usually popular times for workers to search for jobs, and popular times for companies to get aggressive on the hiring front. The reason? A new year often means new budgets for employers, so companies often ramp up their recruiting once they have the money available to onboard talent.

If you’re hoping to get a new job this year but have yet to start looking, you may be wondering whether you missed your prime opportunity. Well, here’s some good news: There are plenty of companies out there with open slots to fill. In fact, as of early March 2019, 40% of employers said they plan to hire full-time, permanent employees this year, according to job site CareerBuilder. Meanwhile, 47% plan to bring in part-time employees. Not only that, but 51% of hiring managers say they’re planning to recruit talent throughout the year, which means you still have plenty of time to get yourself hired.

That said, if you do want a new job, you’ll need to take steps to make yourself the strongest candidate possible. Here’s how.

1. Refine your resume

Your resume is the first thing potential employers might associate with your application, and as such, it really needs to be perfect. Specifically, that document must be clean-looking and free of grammatical errors. It also needs to be concise, focused, and loaded with action items that paint a clear picture of the skills you bring to the table. If you’re not confident in your resume, consider using a service to polish yours up. That one-time fee could be the ticket to a better job than the one you have now.

2. Brush up on your interview skills

Presenting a solid resume is only half the battle when applying to jobs. Once that document gets you in the door, you’ll need to really ace that interview if you want a shot at getting hired. To this end, read up on the company and industry you’re applying to so that you come in sounding like you’ve done your homework. At the same time, familiarize yourself with some common interview questions (think: “What’s your greatest weakness?”) so you’re better equipped to answer them. Finally, if you know you tend to get nervous during in-person meetings, enlist the help of some friends and do a few trial runs. This will help you approach those interviews with more confidence.

3. Network aggressively

If you’re serious about finding a new job this year, don’t just spend time searching for one online. Rather, make an effort to expand your business network. Doing so might open the door to new opportunities you otherwise wouldn’t discover. Furthermore, it’s generally favorable to apply for an open position as a referral from someone internal rather than as a random candidate, so the more people you get to know, the greater your chances of finding someone who’s willing to vouch for you.

4. Understand what it is you want from a job

Knowing what you want from a job will help you better identify the right openings to pursue. If you’re convinced you want a new role this year but aren’t exactly sure where to look, consider working with a career counselorr. He or she can help you narrow down your choices to make your job search more efficient, thereby saving you time and stress and helping you avoid a scenario where you’re repeatedly chasing the wrong opportunities.

With most of 2019 still ahead of us, it’s certainly not too late to land a new job this year. Focus on the points discussed here, and with any luck, your search will be a successful one.