Whether you are coming out from university looking for your first professional role, are unemployed trying to get back into your field, between work contracts, or are simply testing the waters to see what else is out there then this checklist will come in handy.
If your resume hasn’t been updated in years then it’s probably safe to assume your references and contacts are outdated as well. Sometimes the most overwhelming hurdle to starting the job hunt is something as seemingly simple as preparation.
Once your resume is renewed and polished to perfection, your references are up to date and you’ve gotten the hang of writing cover letters again you can finally get into the swing of job hunting. But getting all these things ready can really take the energy out of you (especially if you’ve got numerous versions of resumes and work samples strewn across various USBs and hard-drives).
To make the preparation process easier we’ve put together a checklist of 7 steps to follow to ensure you cover all the necessary bases and put your best foot forward when applying for jobs.
You should be clear on what you want out of your next job. Do you desire a promotion, or just a change of scenery? Do you want to try new things and branch out into a related or entirely new field, or do you just want some more responsibility. Knowing what you want to get out of your new job will focus you, giving you clear direction.
If you don’t have a professional LinkedIn profile yet you should get one, especially if you work in a professional sector. Social media for business use is becoming the norm, so arm yourself with a LinkedIn profile using a professional head-shot and keywords which will help recruiters find your profile online.
While you are at it, you should make sure all your other social accounts are set to private and anything visible to outsiders’ looks professional and above-board. If you can bear it, it would be best to do away with all social media accounts except LinkedIn (unless your industry predominantly uses Facebook for example).
Make sure you write a personalised T-bar cover letter when applying for professional positions so you can match the job requirements against your qualifications and experience succinctly, in a very easy to read layout. The recruiter will thank you for it.
You may even go so far as personalising the resume and accompanying work samples, but really going these extra yards depend on what the ad is asking for and how much time you have to tinker around.
Don’t bother going for a job listed on a job board unless you match 80% to 85% of its requirements. Smaller and regional job boards and work search aggregators are recommended over the larger ones.
With job hunting a fierce competition for all roles these days, it may prove fruitful to head to individual business websites to see if they list any company job vacancies. Certain businesses only post ads on their own websites, others post an ad both on their website and on job search boards, but sometimes, the ad first appears on their own site, experiencing a delay before it appears on job boards.
This delay may give you an edge as your job application is amongst the first to come through if you pounce early enough.
Make sure you research the business you’re applying to and put together a document with a few key notes about the business and the position.
This will come in very handy if you get an out of the blue phone call requesting you come in for an interview. You can immediately refer to the notes and remind yourself what the role is and what the company does to impress the phone-caller and pose any questions the notes may inspire.