So you’re thinking about finding a new job.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two years, you know you’re not the only one thinking that. There are a number of reasons why a record number of people are taking their careers into a new direction:
- Better pay
- More flexibility
- Expand your skill set
- Work with exciting new brands
But changing jobs isn’t all sunshine and roses. Researching, applying, interviewing—it’s an involved process, especially if you’re still working your day job! Then there’s the hassle of putting down roots in a new company and rebuilding key professional relationships.
You don’t want to go into this process halfway. So here are some steps to take before you start your job hunt.
Should you even look for a new job?
It’s a worthwhile question to ask. Even if you’re not 100% satisfied with your current role, who’s to say that changing jobs will fix the problem?
Wouldn’t you rather see if you can address the problem within your current company before investing loads of time and energy into a job hunt?
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I maximized my potential in my current role?
- Are there opportunities to grow within my current company (vertically or laterally)?
- Can I make changes to my work schedule to be more flexible?
- Can I negotiate a pay raise in my current company?
- What benefits will a job change do to move my career forward?
If you can’t honestly answer “yes” to those questions, then it’s a good sign that you should pursue a new opportunity.
6 steps to take before starting your job hunt
When you decide to look for a new job, hit pause before jumping into the hunt. Here are six steps you should take to make sure you can maximize your time, relieve stress, and prepare yourself for the opportunities coming your way.
1. Clarify your goals
There are plenty of good reasons why you should look for a new job. But if you don’t know what yours are, you’re going to have a hard time finding a role that moves your career in the direction you want.
Take the time to clarify your goals for the job hunt. This can be as simple as writing down a “wish list” of things you’d like to see in your job and using that to measure potential opportunities. Approaching your job search in a clear-headed, logical way will help ensure that you get exactly what you want and need out of the process.
2. Build your personal brand
Personal brands aren’t just for Instagram influencers. If you want to be taken seriously as an expert in your field, you need to spend some time investing in your digital reputation.
Gone are the days of just putting together a nice cover letter, sprucing up your resume, and calling it good. While these are important steps (more on that below), they aren’t enough to land you an interview.
Now, employers look at social media platforms and your online presence to learn about you. You should use this to your advantage, leveraging social media (especially LinkedIn) to build your personal brand.
This doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and it doesn’t have to be crazy or fancy. Some simple steps you can take can be:
- Update your profile and header images
- Craft a compelling bio that explains what you do and where your expertise lies
- Post frequently about the goings on in your industry—including advice from your first-person experiences
It may seem like a lot of work, but that’s what it takes to stand out in this day and age.
3. Grow your professional network
You don’t want to wait until you’re on the hunt to start building relationships with industry professionals. People smell B.S. from a mile away, and you don’t want to come off as “using” people to climb the professional ladder.
Instead, take the time to build relationships with like-minded professionals before you start your job search. These can include fellow college graduates, former colleagues at previous companies, or people with job titles similar to yours.
Once you know who you’re looking for, make personal, authentic connections with them:
- Take the time to research the person and craft an authentic message
- Comment on their posts and contribute to online discussions
- Post in Facebook and LinkedIn groups—helpful content only
Ultimately, the goal of networking is to foster conversations with people in your industry. If you do this well, you won’t have to ask for a job or a favor. The jobs will come flocking to you.
4. Create a template resume and cover letter
Every position you apply for will require a tailored cover letter and resume. Before you get into your job search, you’ll want to have at least a template of each asset in place. That way, you can easily make some changes before you apply for the job—instead of having to draft everything from scratch for each application.
But remember: these are templates. Don’t send out a generic resume and cover letter (unless you want to be dismissed out of hand, that is).
5. Start prepping your interview questions & responses
You don’t have to wait until the interview is scheduled to start prepping for it. There are a number of standard interview questions that you’ll probably be asked, and you should use this “pre-game” time to come up with some killer responses:
- Can you tell me about yourself? (Basically, your 1-2 minute elevator pitch)
- How did you hear about this position & why did you apply?
- Why are you leaving your current job?
- What’s an example of a stressful situation and how did you handle it?
- Do you work well in a fast-paced environment?
- When balancing multiple projects, how do you stay organized?
- What are your salary/benefit expectations?
On the other side of the coin, you’ll also want to put together those questions that you should ask in every interview:
- Can you tell me about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role?
- How could I impress you in the first 90 days?
- How would you describe the company culture?
- Where is the company headed over the next five years?
- What opportunities do you provide for professional development?
Like with your resume and cover letter, you’ll want to tailor both your questions and responses to the company specifically. But having some structure for your responses can help make this a smoother, quicker process—especially if you’re handling a bunch of interviews at once.
6. Build an application tracker
When you’re managing multiple applications and interview processes at different stages, it can be difficult to keep everything organized. Having a simple spreadsheet where you can track the companies you’re applying to, interviewing with, need to send a thank you note to, etc. can help you stay both professional and organized.
Given all the work that goes into a job search, it can be helpful to have someone in your corner who can advise and advocate for you along the way.
With Brightwing, you have the opportunity to work with recruiters that will put you and your goals first. We are especially adept at making placements in highly technical and specialized fields, like electrification and automation.
To set up some one-on-one time with a Brightwing recruiter and see whether we can help you, click here.
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