Maybe the headspace your summer vacation has created has caused you to re-evaluate your job. Or maybe you realize it’s time for a change because you’ve had a less-than-inspiring mid-year performance review. Whatever the reason, despite all the well-meaning career advice out there, it can be hard to know exactly where to start if it’s been a while since you have searched for a job.
So here’s a brief checklist for job-seekers who’ve been out of the game for a while:
- Update your resume and cover letter. Make sure your resume has the necessary keywords that hiring managers (and importantly, applicant tracking software) are looking for in your field. Resumes can get outdated very easily, so if you haven’t looked for a job in a while, be sure to make sure all the dates and job titles are correct but more importantly, don’t just add to it! Make sure to remove outdated resume items as you grow more senior and advanced in your career. As you apply to very different kinds of jobs, you might want to tailor your resume to each position — it could make or break your chances of getting an interview. Finally, don’t neglect to put some time and effort into writing a compelling note to a recruiter or hiring manager. No matter how great your resume is, it won’t matter if it never gets opened because you flop on your introductory email.
READ MORE: How to write a good CV.
- Make sure your LinkedIn profile looks as good as your resume and you have plenty of endorsements from colleagues. More generally, do a review of your online reputation and your social media accounts and clean up whatever you think does not reflect well on you as a job seeker (yes, that means you may have to delete certain summer party photos on your Instagram account). Don’t forget that it’s not all about managing downside. You can also make your social media profiles more attractive to a prospective hiring manager.
- Start searching for jobs and do your research on potential companies, their policies, culture and benefits (including paid parental leave if you think you may need it in the future), and jobs that offer work-life balance (if that’s important to you).
- Get in touch with headhunters and recruiters. Network, even if you hate to network. Or, you can attend conferences instead of networking events.
- While waiting for those hiring managers to call you back, see if any of these overlooked career resources can help your search. Also, you don’t have to actually wait until you have an interview in order to do some interview prep. Make sure you’re prepared to answer the most common interview questions, especially tough, open-ended ones like “Tell me about yourself” and “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
- During your interview process, be aware that if your first round is a call that there are certain things that are especially important for over-the-phone interviews. Don’t forget to prepare questions to ask of your interviewer — not doing so could make you look unengaged or uninterested in the role.
- Finally, as tedious as it may seem, you must send a thank you note after every interview and make sure you follow-up the right way. Arguably this can be just as important as the impression you made during the interview process itself, particularly if the hiring manager is having a difficult time deciding between candidates.
- Be prepared to ask colleagues and former managers (if applicable) for references in advance so that you don’t slow down the job offer process hunting down people who are willing to speak on your behalf.
- Figure out your salary request and prepare to negotiate. This is the time to make sure you get paid what you’re worth! If you’re not sure what a fair salary is, do your research on salaries by company and position.
While not every point above may apply to you, depending on your seniority level, industry and the kind of job you’re looking for, you’ll certainly be spared that “D’oh!” moment of regret if you use this list!
By Georgene Huang – CEO of Fairygodboss, a marketplace where professional women looking for jobs, career advice and the inside scoop on companies meet employers who care about gender equality.