A job search should be taken as seriously as a job itself. As in tackling any new project, looking for work is more likely to be successful by following a thoughtful, organized process. The following steps can potentially lead you to a job in your career field.
1. Update your resume.
Some people think that as long as they have a resume – any resume – they are ready to look for a job. But like other important records, a resume should be updated every year or two so that key changes in your work experience can be added, such as a change in job title or duties, significant overtime, special projects or skill-building classes, etc. Check your resume at least once a year to be sure it represents a complete picture of your job experience and strengths.
2. Line up references.
Although several years ago you may have asked people familiar with your job skills to provide a letter of recommendation or for their permission to be listed as a professional reference, things can change over time. For example, a former female colleague’s marital status may be altered, and her name along with it. Or a reference may have relocated, retired, or no longer be interested in providing a reference. It’s a good idea to check with your references periodically to make sure they are still available and knowledgeable about your updated job duties.
3. Scope out relevant job openings.
Rather than applying for random positions on a job board, keep an eye on job bulletins or routine publications to get a sense of trends, salary expectations, and other industry data. Then apply just for those positions that best fit your skill set. Networking through professional associations is a good way to build connections and stay abreast of current or future job openings at their companies. Read related news articles in business journals to follow how a certain career field is evolving.
4. Practice your interview skills.
Even if you are an accomplished speaker and have no problem discussing your work history or accomplishments, it is helpful to practice an interview by acting out the roles ahead of time with someone who can play the part of a prospective employer. If role playing is not feasible, at least discuss the art of interviewing with some of your HR associates. You can also find interviewing tips online at professional development sites or career building sites.
5. Seek out a career mentor.
Whatever stage of your career you are at, you may want to consider finding a mentor. This can be someone at your company, a relative in a similar occupation, or a retired business professional – any of whom is willing to meet with you occasionally to discuss your questions and concerns about career development, including a job search plan. Obviously, this should be someone with whom you are comfortable discussing job-related matters.
Prepare for a successful job search by following steps like these to find the position you are looking for.