5 Musts Before Starting Your Job Search

Like most things, a key element of job search success is planning. Unfortunately, many job seekers just jump right in. They begin looking at job ads and internal opportunities.

Bad idea.

Most people wouldn’t just put their home on the market without some planning. They would consider different neighborhoods, maybe research realtors, and evaluate mortgage rates. They would appraise their home and find out what they should repair or replace to get top dollar.

Yet every day, people decide that today they’re going to start looking for a new job. Once they find a few exciting opportunities they dust off their old resume and realize it needs an overhaul.

They quickly find that jumping into a job search without planning doesn’t lead to success. Here are 5 things you need to do before you begin your job search.

#1 Update Your Resume

Get your resume in order before you start looking. While everyone has heard It’s essential to always have a resume ready to go, many do not follow through. They end up sending out an old, revamped resume and find they are not getting any response.

Unfortunately, writing a strong resume isn’t a speedy process even if you decide to hire a professional. Most qualified resume writers are booked in advance.  When they agree to a quick turnaround, and many do not, there is generally a hefty rush fee.

Job seekers who have found jobs they want to apply for are left scrambling.

#2 Update Your LinkedIn Profile

Your LinkedIn profile is an important part of your job search toolbox. Recruiters are on LinkedIn searching for candidates to fill open positions every day. If you have a “skeleton” profile, it’s unlikely your profile will rank high in a recruiter’s search. Even if you are the perfect candidate.

Also, employers who are interested after reviewing your resume will likely visit your LinkedIn profile hoping to learn more about you. They won’t be impressed with a profile that includes a headline and job titles, but no picture.

So spend some time completing your profile before you start looking. Finish that Summary you’ve been meaning to write for six months to a year. Fill out those job descriptions and be sure to use some keywords.

#3 Clean Up Social Media

Social media readiness is two-fold. Review your online presence to make sure there will be no surprises when an employer starts reaching. Clean up your profiles and/or set them to private.

Review your social media profiles. Remove things that employers might find objectionable. Make sure your profile photos are employer ready on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Begin using your social media in favorable ways. Join LinkedIn groups and start participating. Use social media posts to demonstrate your industry knowledge.

#4 Prepare For Salary Questions

Recruiters are going to ask you salary requirements so be ready. All jobs have a salary range and recruiters need to know if you fall in that range. If the high end is $125K and you’re looking for $175K it’s highly unlikely that you would even be considered. No matter how awesome you are.

Conduct research to learn the appropriate market rate for your target positions. There are many sites including Salary.com where you can look up salaries. Talk to people who work in the field. Decide on a salary that you can live with. But, keep in mind only “perfect” candidates will be offered salaries at the top of the range.

#5 Establish Criteria

Decide what’s most important to you in your next position. Salary is only one piece of the compensation puzzle. Make sure you factor benefits into the equation.

When putting together your list of criteria think about things like flexible schedules, tuition reimbursement, professional development, opportunity for growth, commuting time, and the chance to telecommute, even if it’s only one day a week.

Make a list of 5 or 6 things that are high on your list this will make it easier for you to evaluate jobs, and eventually offers, during your job search process.

An offer than includes a $10K salary increase may sound great. But if the company’s medical benefits will cost $5K more a year and you won’t be reimbursed for education it might not be such a great deal. It depends on what’s important to you.