By Barbara Mitchell
Q: Before I consider looking for a new job, are there some steps I should take to prepare?
A: Looking for a new job isn’t always a fun experience, but it’s smart to think about how you should get ready for a search ahead of time.
Always be networking. Because many jobs are filled through people you know, be sure you have a strong network in place before starting your job search. Ideally, you’re keeping up with your network consistently, but many people only think about their network when they’re job hunting. That’s not a good idea—your network should be a living, breathing part of your professional experience. You can’t ignore these important people when you’re gainfully employed and expect them to drop everything when you need them.
Networking is not just about going to industry events and handing out your business card. It’s about connections you make every day, including through virtual networking on platforms like LinkedIn. Consider every new person you meet as a good potential contact—whether you meet them at the grocery store, your place of worship, or an industry event. Any of these connections can lead you to your next job.
Review your social media accounts. Take the time to clean up anything on your social media accounts that might create the wrong impression of you for a prospective employer. This doesn’t mean deleting your accounts—just be sure that whatever is there shows you in the best possible light.
Update your resume. You’ll need a strong resume that sells prospective employers on your strengths and informs them of your work and educational credentials. There are plenty of resources available for help with crafting a compelling resume (including a service offered right here at Association CareerHQ), but remember that content is the most important element.
Your network should be a living, breathing part of your professional experience. You can’t ignore these important people when you’re gainfully employed and expect them to drop everything when you need them.
When creating your resume, keep in mind that many organizations use applicant-tracking systems to screen resumes. This software searches resumes and applications for keywords, such as the skills and abilities that the organization most wants their applicants to possess. Be sure your resume includes the requirements for a successful candidate that are listed on the job posting.
Understand yourself and your desired culture. Take time to consider what your strengths are and how you’d like to use them, as well as what type of organization you want to work in. The more you know about what you’re good at and what’s important to you, the better prepared you’ll be for your search.
Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR,The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook and the latest book—The Conflict Resolution Phrase Book. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].