A job search can be thrilling and frightening at the same time. Whether you are currently unemployed or you are just looking for new possibilities, it is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and pursue what makes you passionate. As you prepare to update your resume, fill out applications and attend interviews, you want to avoid mistakes that could land you in the wrong position or prevent you from getting the job of your dreams.
Here are seven ways to ensure you are setting yourself up for success as you look for a new career, no matter what industry you’re in or what level you work at:
- Know what you want
This is a difficult step, but it can be vital in helping you pursue a position you will want to be in long term. Some questions to consider include:
- What kind of work are you passionate about?
- What is your ideal schedule?
- How far are you willing to commute, or relocate?
- How much compensation do you need?
- What are “deal breakers” when it comes to potential jobs?
Focusing on your goals will help you identify what kinds of jobs to apply for as well as what kinds to avoid.
- Identify your strengths
What skills from your previous experiences are transferrable to a new job? While work experience is ideal, other skills from hobbies or volunteer activities can be useful as well, such as mechanical aptitude or creative talent. On your resume and applications, highlight strengths that are relevant to the positions your are interested in.
- Target your job search
Even if you are desperate for a job, try to target employers and positions that are a good match for your goals and your strengths. Do basic research on the companies you are interested in before you apply.
- Update your resume
No matter what industry you are in, a clean, easy to understand resume can go a long way in getting you noticed by potential employers (see 6 Tips for a Manufacturing Job Resume and The Most Valuable Words You can Put On Your Resume). Get assistance if necessary with formatting and presentation.
It can be useful to look at job descriptions you are most interested and list the necessary qualifications for those jobs on your resume. Transcribe word for word because recruiters may be doing key word searches. That will help your resume get noticed.
- Prepare cover letters
Once you’ve identified jobs you are interested in, write cover letters to go with your application. Explain why you are qualified and why you are interested. Create a narrative that goes beyond the basic facts on your resume. Say something that will help you stand out, such as how your previous experiences have fueled your desire to pursue this job.
- Get ready to present yourself
You may also want to review your social media profiles and what is visible publicly. Hide or delete anything that you aren’t comfortable with a potential boss seeing. When you land an interview, prepare appropriately. Dress well—get some new interview clothes if necessary—and learn as much as you can about the company. It also never hurts to practice your responses (for more tips, see 10 Deadly Interview Mistakes).
- Validate your references
Check in with references to see if they are still available and willing to provide positive information. An invalid reference on your resume can potentially cost you the position. While you’re at it, validate the dates that you worked and make sure they are accurate on your resume and application.