Whether you’re diving back into the job market after a layoff or simply looking for a new job that will offer the pay, benefits, and respect you deserve, job searching requires diligence and focus. If you leap in too quickly, you risk having your resume buried in better applications, or you might land a job right away only to later realize it isn’t what you expected.
It’s wise to take some time to plan ahead and prepare a strategy for your career search. Here are the five basic steps you should never overlook as you prepare to hand out resumes and search for a new job.
1. Reset Your Attitude
Nobody enjoys job hunting, but it’s something we all have to do at some point and lamenting it won’t make it any easier. On the contrary, having a bad attitude about job hunting – or about work itself – can cripple your applications before they even get off the ground.
If you were a manager, would you call back the man who was surly and irritable as he dropped off his resume? What about the woman who bit her lip and made self-deprecating remarks throughout the interview? If you have confidence in yourself and project a respectful, happy persona to a prospective boss, you’re far more likely to land a job where you will receive the respect, responsibility, and pay you deserve.
2. Create a Targeted Resume
Your resume and cover letter are your first and most important contact with managers and human resources, so make them good! It’s not just the quality, clarity, and thoroughness of your resume that’s important, though. It also needs to be targeted to the specific industry and, sometimes, the specific job for which you’re applying.
Created targeted, focused resumes is a lot of work, but it pays off by giving each potential employer the impression that you are exactly what they are looking for and that you have the experience and skill set they need.
3. Know What You Need and What’s Negotiable
What was wrong with your last job that you’d like to see different in the next? Are you focused on achieving higher pay for your work, or better benefits? How much do you care about having your own office or workspace? Do you need the flexibility to work from home some of the time, or is that a bonus you’d like to have but would be willing to do without if the job offered other perks?
Always enter into job negotiations knowing your own bottom line, so you can confidently decide which offers you want to consider, and which aren’t worth your time.
4. Check Out Job Trends
Perhaps you have skills in a particular field that’s in demand, and you’re not interested in changing career tracks. But if you’re more flexible about your job prospects, it’s not a bad idea to consider current and rising career trends as you begin the application process.
5. Be Prepared
Finally, a successful job searcher is primed to do what it takes to land the right job. Do you know what employers are looking for when they ask behavioral interview questions? Have you familiarized yourself with the most common interview questions in your field, and have you practiced your responses to ensure a good impression? It’s worth researching these questions and rehearsing your answers.
Being prepared also means having classy, appropriate interview clothes ready at all times, and being ready to walk out the door if you get a call for a meeting on short notice. Prioritize your job search and be ready to put your best foot forward whenever the call comes, and you’ll land a rewarding job in no time.
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