prepare for your job search in these 6 steps

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Whether you’re looking to make a career move within the next 6-12 months, just browsing opportunistically, or ready to find a new job yesterday, take care of the job search basics first. Here are 6 important steps you should take to prepare for your next job search BEFORE sending out a single resume. Once you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be ready to actively engage in your search and pursue any opportunities that come your way!

#1: REFLECT on your career hopes, desires, and interests and set reasonable, measurable, and achievable job search goals.

Before jumping right into all things job search, take some time to reflect on the vision you have for your career. Why are you looking for a new role? What are your interests, hopes, passions, dreams, and aspirations? Think about what you want to be doing in your next role and what you DON’T want to be doing. Next, reflect on your job search goals. What do you want the outcome of your search to be? Is it a specific type of role? Is it a particular company? Is it finding an opportunity that aligns with your personal purpose or mission? Whatever these goals are, write them down! Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to come up with 10 -- stick with a max of 3. Include your goals in your job search tracking system (which I’ll discuss in #3) so they’re always in your line of sight. These goals should be meaningful, clear, and attainable to keep you energized and focused!

Need help developing your career vision and job search goals? Book a Career Q&A session to ask any questions and talk through your job search hopes and fears. Also, look out for my Create Your Career Vision coaching session launching in March!

#2: RESEARCH your industries, companies/orgs, and roles of interest.

Research, research, and more research. This is the time to start crafting your lists of target industries, companies, and roles. When we’re sick of our current roles, we generally approach our job search thinking “I would take ANY job doing ANYthing other than this”, BUT that doesn’t make for a targeted search and more importantly, that doesn’t help you clarify why you’re actually interested in the opportunities you’re applying for. Potential employers want to know that you’re excited about doing THIS thing, not that you’re willing to take ANYthing. Here’s where the research comes in -- the more you learn, the more selective you’ll be about the roles you wish to and ultimately do apply for, and the more specific, genuine, and thoughtful your connections to these roles will be.

Along with looking up job descriptions, company websites, and company & employee LinkedIn profiles, informational interviews are your friends during this step. Hold informational interviews with internal employees currently working in roles or companies that you’re interested in learning more about. Use the information you gather to make decisions about where or where not to apply for opportunities, and remember to follow up with these new professional contacts, especially if you decide to apply for role(s) and/or are selected for interviews.

If you’re unsure of what questions to ask during informational interviews or how to request your first one, book a networking strategy session, where we can discuss your career interests and develop the messaging you’ll use to reach out to professional contacts!

#3: REVIEW the latest versions of your resume, cover letter & LinkedIn profile.

You already know I’m going to mention this -- resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles play a crucial role in seeking and securing a new job opportunity. Depending on how long it’s been since your last job search, you might have to blow the dust and cobwebs off of your documents. Assess their current status honestly and thoroughly -- is your resume up to date? have you worked on more relevant and impactful projects since your last cover letter? do you even have information written on your LinkedIn profile? After defining your job search goals and beginning to craft your target lists, ensure that all of your documents include the latest information that will be most relevant to your target job opportunities.

Looking for constructive feedback and recommendations on your resume, cover letter, and/or LinkedIn profile? Request a critique! Want to talk through them line-by-line? Book a review session!

#4: ESTABLISH your personal job search tracking system.

I know this seems like a “take it or leave it” step, but it isn’t. Decide how you’re going to track your job search NOW, before you submit even one application. Establish the good habits when there’s very little information to input. Be honest: are you going to want to add 25+ roles to an Excel/Google Sheets spreadsheet or a Trello board when you’re in the midst of a hectic search? Probably not.

And the truth is, most job seekers either tackle this step when they’re well into their search (I’m talking MONTHS) or never complete this step at all, which can lead to all sorts of problems, including missing application deadlines, confusing interview days/times, and forgetting to follow up with recruiters, hiring managers, or professional contacts. As a lover of all things organization, I implore you to determine how you’re going to track your search BEFORE you start. Set it up now, record your goals (plus any career-related intentions and affirmations), and make future you proud.

Undecided about the best way to track your job search? I’ve created some FREE tools for job seekers that’ll help you keep your most important info organized -- see if any of these options works for you!

#5: ENGAGE with friends, mentors, your wider network, and professionals about your job search.

Tell someone (or someONES) that you’re looking for a new job, and tell them what role(s) you’re looking for -- help them help you! The perfect time to develop your support system is before your search even starts. Far too many job seekers go about their searches alone -- applying for opportunities online without connecting with internal employees, and/or struggling with the normal frustrations of job searching without telling friends or mentors what roles they’re looking for or that they just need some help. You don’t have to tell the world that you’re looking, but you should reach out to friends, mentors, coaches, or professionals who might be able to provide you with the support, guidance, and connections you need to start and maintain a consistently successful job search. If nothing else, they’ll provide you with the motivation and pep talks you’ll need to keep you going through the job search peaks and valleys.

Already in the midst of an inconsistent job search or hoping to craft a strategy before you get started? Book a job search strategy session -- we’ll chat about the information you’ve prepared while completing these steps, and design a tailored job search plan just for you!

#6: EXPLORE opportunities outside of your defined targets -- be flexible!

Allow yourself the opportunity to explore roles, companies, and industries that fall outside of your target lists or defined career interests. For example, if you’re seeking a career in human resources or business development, you can pursue roles within a wide array of industries! Take note of the opportunities you’re drawn to, especially those outside of your typical comfort zone. While you should have your target, reach, and safety roles defined, be flexible and keep your eyes and ears open for wildcards!

Daunted by the mere thought of these wildcards? Schedule a Career Q&A session, where we’ll talk about the areas you haven’t yet considered for your job search and how to find new and interesting job opportunities that fit with your career vision.

The ultimate goal of your job search is to find an opportunity that aligns with your personal, professional, and financial growth and development. Taking these steps before embarking on that search will help you seek and land that opportunity with clarity and confidence.