Job Searching? 4 Steps To Take Before Diving In

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If you are ready to make a career move, you might be eager to start your search. While it can be tempting to dive right in, taking the extra time to set goals and get organized is well worth the effort. After all, failing to prepare sufficiently can only leave room for embarrassing and unprofessional mistakes.

Submitting an outdated resume, applying to the wrong job, forgetting which jobs you applied to, and being caught off-guard when you do get a call, are just a few faux pas that can hurt your job prospects. To avoid this, it’s important to get organized before you start applying. In the end, this will help you stay focused on the main task at hand—to land a position that aligns with your values and overall career goals.

Here are 4 ways to manage this process:

Update your resume: Setting aside an hour to bring your resume up-to-date is not only a great way to ease into the job search process, but also identify the types of roles you’d want to apply to. In today’s candidate-driven market, there can be an overwhelming number of open jobs—making it easy to become distracted by positions that ultimately aren’t the right fit for you. Ensuring your resume is current before you start searching allows you to keep your goals top of mind. Whether this involves developing a new skill or gaining experience in a different industry, this refreshed resume can help guide your search.

Develop a strategy (and stick to it): It’s all too easy to open up a search engine, apply to a few jobs, and then take a week-long break in the hopes that you’ll hear back from at least one employer. Doing so can actually prolong your search, so it’s important to have goals to speed up the process—and make sure you don’t miss any opportunities along the way. That being said, it’s a good idea to set aside a certain time each day to browse job forums, apply, and network. Regardless of how you choose to search for jobs, setting goals for each session is a great way to stay on track. Whether that means applying to a specified number of jobs each day or reaching out to a set number of contacts per week, having them will keep you working more efficiently.

Improve your personal brand: Social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook have changed the way we connect after networking events, meetings, and interviews. As a result, evaluating and improving the way your brand is portrayed on these sites is a vital step in preparing for your job search. Your brand can be what others—employers, clients, and network connections—identify you as an expert in, so these social networking platforms are some of the best ways to market your skills, achievements, and industry expertise. For more on building and maintaining a marketable professional image, check out our eBook, Building Your Online Brand.

Keep a master list: To be as organized as possible, create a spreadsheet that contains a row for each job you apply for. It should be as detailed as possible, including columns for: the date you applied; the company; the contact; the position for which you applied; how you applied; if, when, and with whom you interviewed; when you should next follow up or what your next steps are; and the current status of the application. It may also be helpful to create separate tabs for open, pending, and closed applications. Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets are wonderful tools for this because they make it easy to move rows around and reorganize them depending on the type of information you are looking for. For instance, you can sort your list by company to ensure you don’t accidentally apply for the same position twice.