5 actions to take before starting your job search

Office Move.

Once you make a decision to go find another job, many people immediately start applying for new jobs. After all, you’ve been told to start. Now.

I wouldn’t.

Instead, I’d make sure I’d have done the following five actions before making that first application. Of course, I’d get all of them done in less than a week, but one still needs to get them done.

Here they are:

Answer the question, “Why are you leaving?”

It’s an important question – one that you’ll be asked in interviews. And the answer has to be better than “I hate my boss” even though that may be true (one of the biggest reasons for leaving a job is because your boss becomes unbearable…).

The answer should allow you to filter out your anger at your work, your frustration with all things at the company, and get you to a place of “By leaving, I will be able to do X with my career.” Add to your job skills? Have a place that is bigger (or smaller) that better fits your style of work? A job that will eliminate a two-hour one-way commute?

Knowing the answer helps you frame what type of job or company you’ll go after in your job search. Plus, give you the answer to one of the most asked interview questions.

Gather all of your career materials from the office and get them home

This is not your company’s confidential information. This is stuff like your performance reviews, SMART goals, status reports and kudos about the work you do. Those are yours and you need them to help you build a resume.

Get all of your career related information off your work computer and on to your personal computer. Stuff like getting your resume off your work computer (why is it on there?). Get your personal subscriptions that come to your work email address on to your personal email address. Get your contacts off your work computer and on to your home computer.

You should do this anyway – both times when I was laid off in my career I was immediately walked out the door after getting my personal items. And you can’t exactly dig around your work computer for your personal stuff with a manager staring over your shoulder watching you. Nor can you dig around in your desk files to find performance reviews and goals. None of this stuff should be at work; it should be at home.

Update your resume

Many would consider this as the first thing to do before looking for a job, but you want to have the information available to you to do that by doing the first two action items above.

I won’t go into a long dissertation here about building your resume. Suffice to say it is better to have a great resume to submit because you took the time to update it right rather than quickly slapping something together that won’t pass muster to the human (or resume reading machine) on the other end.

Update your LinkedIn profile

Many recruiters are looking through LinkedIn information for candidates to source for openings. If you’re like me, you let your LinkedIn profile go stale without updates even longer than your resume updates. While your LinkedIn profile doesn’t need to match your resume, it should at least compliment your resume and have consistent information matching your resume.

Build your marketing strategy

It’s worth taking a little time to write out what steps you’ll do to find a job. This does not have to be crazy, but without some planning as to how you will find a job you’ll shotgun it all over the place.

Here are some of the items to consider:

  • What job boards will you submit your resume? Big is not always better; specialized boards often work better
  • What job searches will you set up on your job boards?
  • What companies will you track and try and get into? What can you use to reach people in that company?
  • How will you track your conversations and submissions?

You don’t want to plan rather than do, but some planning is essential to maximize your time and effort. Plus, this gives you a baseline to start comparing results against to help you adjust your actions as you go forward in your job search.

Don’t Fire and then Aim

Deciding to change jobs is a big deal. It will impact the next year of your life at a minimum. So it’s worth taking a little bit of time before firing the big submission guns to get your stuff lined up and ready to go.

How have you been burned by not doing a little preparation for your job search?

photo by: _e.t

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