How to get organized for the job search

The anxious energy of the job search can lead you to start off by endlessly perusing job boards and firing off one-click applications. But that’s not going to get you the kind of results you want.

Instead, take a deep breath and take a few days to get your job search organized first for optimal success.

Here are the first 5 steps to take to get your job search started strong:

1. Clarify your direction

If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. The same principle holds true for the job search. You must be able to clearly articulate your goals. What do you want? And more importantly: why do you want it?

In moments of desperation, it’s easy to say, “I’ll take ANYTHING.” But the sad reality is: that doesn’t work.

I don’t mean to invoke The Law of Attraction, per se, but that philosophy holds true here. People aren’t going to be compelled by your “I’ll take whatever” mentality. They want to know what you actually want, even if that feels like audacious, pie-in-the-sky thinking.

You must get clear on your career vision before you can take action to move closer towards it.

One way I help my HIRED job search accelerator participants with this is through an exercise I call “Clarify Your Career Crush.”

  • Write down the names of 3 people whose careers you admire. They could be close friends and family members or people you may never meet whose work you follow from afar.
  • Looking at your list, write down what these people have in their work lives that you want to have more of in yours.
  • Then, consider what symbols of success they have that mean something important to you. For instance, if it’s the fact that she gets to work from home in her yoga pants, what does that really mean to you? Flexibility? Autonomy? The ability to spend more quality time with those you love. If it’s power suits and fancy shoes she wears, what does that really mean to you? Financial abundance? Power? Taking time to take care of herself and feel put together?

    Before you officially start your search, get clear on the direction you want to head in, and it’ll help you pinpoint which kinds of employers may be able to make your vision a reality.

2. Get networking

Did you know that candidates with internal referrals are 15 TIMES more likely to get a job than someone who applies via a job board? That’s why the absolute best way to supercharge your job search is to start networking like a powerhouse.

I’ve written before about how to organize your networking, how to get the attention of a busy person, make the most of 1-on-1 meetings, and overcome introversion to network like a champ.

The most important lesson to draw from all this? Just start. The sooner you can alert your contacts, connect with friends in your industry, and begin reaching out to friends-of-friends too, the sooner everyone can help keep their ear to the ground for you.

When I’m feeling nervous, my first instinct is to withdraw and go into hibernation mode. Resist this urge! Get yourself out there and start asking for help early on in this process. It will accelerate your success. Do not wait to reach out for your resume and pitch to be perfect: just start!

3. Edit your resume

Your first impression as a job-seeker is typically conveyed by your resume. Have you tried a fresh, easy-to-read resume template? Have you made sure to use keywords to help you get through AI resume screeners? Have you integrated the CAR method to ensure that your resume clearly showcases your transferable skills?

Refer to the Rock Your Resume section of our totally-free job search guide here to learn more about implementing the resume-writing best practices for the modern job search.

Then, once you have the first draft of your updated resume complete, bring it with you to your networking meetings and get on-the-spot feedback from others in your field. Don’t shy away from criticism, seek out the feedback you need.

If you want professional help with writing your resume, learn more about my coaching offerings here.

4. Audit your social media

As you begin reaching out and expanding your network, you’ll want to be sure that your online presence is helping – and not hurting – your cause.

Polish up your LinkedIn profile with a nice new headshot and concise career summary. Make sure your private social networks are, in fact, locked down, and if you maintain a public presence on, say, Twitter or Pinterest, that your social media reflects the professional persona you want to convey. Consistency is key here: try to keep your headshot the same across platforms so folks know when they’ve found you and so your online brand feels trustworthy and clear. People don’t trust what they can’t understand.

Learn more about best practices for auditing your online presence here and if you’d like professional help with your LinkedIn profile, learn more about my coaching offerings here.

5. Check job boards and listserv emails daily

Once you’ve taken the time to get clear on your job search goals, rewrite your resume, network like a boss, and audit your online presence: it’s time to get busy applying!

I recommend spending 10-30 minutes each morning scanning your saved search results from job boards (which you can often opt to have sent straight to your inbox) as well as any industry-specific job listservs. Do this once a day and the activity is less likely to creep into every other part of your day and distract you from whatever else needs you to focus.

Keep tabs on any open positions that spark interest in a spreadsheet or document where you’re keeping a running list of jobs you want to consider applying to, and then when you have time to focus on applications, you’ll know exactly where to start. Start applying regularly and each application will become easier and easier as you flex your job search muscles. Once you submit an application – or perhaps even beforehand – scour your network to see who might know anyone who works there. That way you can begin to reach out and establish relationships with folks on the inside who can serve as internal referrals for you, too.

Keep at it

I know the job search process can feel amorphous and unpredictable – and it is! But by starting off as organized and clear as can be, you’ll bring some structure to the chaos to help keep you motivated and moving forward, step by step.

This article originally appeared on BossedUp.