Ask anyone about their feelings towards job searching and it’s not likely they’ll say it’s among one of their favourite tasks. From writing up a cover letter, filling out what seems like endless online job applications and going on (often multiple!) interviews, searching for a new job is often described as being a job in itself!
To make your next job search more effective (and hopefully much quicker!), here are 5 things you need to do before you even send out your resume:
Complete a ‘start, stop and continue’ exercise
It’s difficult to find a new job if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. To help guide your search, take a sheet of paper and split it into three columns. In the first column, write all of the things you would like to start doing in a new job. This could be anything from particular responsibilities to having a shorter commute each day. The second column is where you want to list all of the things you would like to stop doing. Maybe there’s a specific task in your current or past role that you don’t like very much. Perhaps you’ve been traveling for work quite a bit and you’d like to spend more time at home. Finally, in the last column, you want to think about all of the things you would like to continue doing. These are things you’ve been doing in your past or current role that you enjoy and would not like to get rid of. Knowing exactly what you want and don’t want prior to job searching will allow you to be a lot more intentional with the jobs you apply for and of course, the questions you ask in your interview.
Review your accomplishments
With most open roles receiving hundreds (if not, thousands) of resumes, how can you ensure that yours stands out among the rest? Take some time to reflect on what you have accomplished in your past or current role. Did you help your department make more money? Did you surpass a sales target? Did you successfully lead a new initiative? Have you won any awards? Your unique accomplishments are what will catch the eye of the hiring manager, increasing your chances of being called in for an interview. Ensure that they are front and center on your resume, cover letter and Linkedin profile.
Edit your resume and cover letter
Once you have an idea of what you would like your next job to look like and you have reviewed your accomplishments, it’s time to polish your job search materials! Go through your resume and cover letter to ensure that it’s up-to-date and is the best possible reflection of who you are and what you’ve achieved. If you can, share them with a friend or family member as they may be able to point out things you may have missed. To make this process easier in the future, it’s recommended that you update your resume every 2-3 months (even if you’re not looking for a new job!) so that you’re always prepared for any opportunities that may come your way.
Clean up and update your online presence
It’s safe to say that most hiring managers these days will look you up on social media before they even bring you in for an interview. If someone were to look at your Facebook or Twitter profile right now, would they like what they see? What about if they ‘Googled’ your name? Conduct an audit of your entire online presence to ensure that there’s nothing that would cause a hiring manager to question your character. Delete any compromising photos and familiarize yourself with your privacy settings to ensure that you know exactly who has access to your profiles and what they’re able to see. Type in your name on Google – are the results a positive reflection of your character? Put yourself in the shoes of a potential hiring manager and make edits to your profiles as needed. It’s also recommended that you take the opportunity to update your profile photos. As great as selfies can be, nothing beats a high-quality professional photo as it’s the first thing someone sees when they view your profile. Already have this? Great! If not, ask a friend to snap a headshot for you or if your budget allows, invest in a professional photographer.
Leverage your network
As the old saying goes, your network is your net worth. Before you even begin to send out your applications, you should start by reaching out to key contacts in your network that may have access to opportunities that are aligned with your current goals. If your schedule allows, set up as many “coffee chats” as you can to reconnect with past colleagues and/or acquaintances as they will help to keep an eye out for job opportunities. If you’re unemployed while job searching, don’t be afraid to out rightly let your network know that you’re searching for a new job. State this directly in your Linkedin headline and post a status letting people know what kind of opportunities you’re looking for. There continues to be countless stories of job seekers who have found success through the kindness of their network, especially though Linkedin. However, as powerful as networking can be – you can’t necessarily expect your network to jump into action for you if you haven’t taken the time to build real connections. Before you even start looking for a job, set aside time each week to keep in touch with people and provide as much value as possible. Build your network before you need it as when you do, it’s more likely that your effort will pay off.
Happy job hunting!