The competition in the job market is always fierce, therefore, when applying for a new job it is more important than ever for you to be prepared. As you know, looking for a job can quickly become quite stressful and time consuming, so the more work you do upfront, the more comfortable and in control you will feel throughout the whole process.

Let’s talk about some important things that anyone that is applying for a new job, should do.

Speak to Your References

Even though including references at the bottom of your resume is rare, at some point, prior to being hired, you will be asked to supply your references. Long before that happens, take some time to think about three past employers that would provide you with the absolute best reference. If you do not have three past employers, quite often a teacher or a coach may be used as a reference.

Call, or send each person a polite and professional email letting them know that you are searching for a new job. Ask them for permission to use them as a job reference. And, make sure to request all of their most current contact information so that you can provide that to potential new employers.

Google Yourself

Do a search for yourself online and see what comes up.

Type your name in several different ways. Here are some examples, with and without quotes:

“Jackson L. Henry”

Jackson Henry

Jackson L. Henry

“Jackson Henry”

Add your location to some of your searches as well.

You should also include the name of some of your past employers along with your name, or the name of the college or high school you attended.

Hopefully, you only find good stuff about yourself, but if you find derogatory things about yourself online, do your very best to see if you can clean them up before you begin applying for new jobs.

Social Media

When it comes to searching for a job is social media a help or a hindrance? The answer may be both, depending on how you appear online.

What you say online can quickly make or break your career, as has been demonstrated by so many people over the past few years.

If you have a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram account, or any other accounts online, go through them and delete any images or statements that could have a negative impact on your job search. Never assume that any jokes that you have posted will be interpreted correctly by future employers.

Yes these are your personal accounts, but employers do not care about that. What they do care about is finding good people to hire. So, when online, always be conservative, unless the images and comments you have online fit well with the type of job you are looking for.

And if you love posting naked Selfies, now may be the right time to delete them unless you are applying for a job with Playboy.

Another online platform that is often overlooked when people are looking for a new job is their blog. If you publish a blog and your name appears on your blog, take the time to make sure that the things you have written on there will not become an embarrassment, or in some way prevent you from getting hired.

The last thing you want is to put a lot of work into finding a new job only to find out that no one will hire you because of something you wrote on your blog two years ago.

Updated Resume

I bet your resume is due for an update, unless you were only at your last job for a few months.

Read your resume and find ways to enhance it. Add any courses you have recently taken, or any volunteer work you are doing.

Ensure that your resume contains strong keywords that directly relate to the type of job you are applying for.

Keywords are important because quite often your resume is scanned into a database so that the HR department can run queries on every applicant in their database for any job openings they need to fill.

Also, if you have a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to make sure that your profile and your resume match when it comes to work experience and education.  Discrepancies will cause your potential employer to wonder what’s going on. And who needs that?

Get Out There and Network

You will never find a new job by sitting at home and waiting for the phone to ring.

When you start looking for a new job you want to speak to as many people as possible. Contact past work colleagues, friends, and trusted professionals in your line of work, to let them know that you are seeking employment. Ask them for referrals and introductions. Someone may know someone that knows someone that is hiring right now.

Another great opportunity to spread the word, and ask for a referral, is when you contact your references. They too may know someone that is hiring.

If you do volunteer work, speak to the people you work with there to see if they know of anyone that you could talk to about a job.

Check your local newspaper for job fairs or meet-ups in your city that may attract people from your line of work. Attend, mingle and exchange contact information with people and make sure to follow-up with them the next day.

An important thing to remember when you are networking is to stop focusing on yourself and to look for ways that you can help other people first. As you do that, people will begin to view you as a helpful person and a good resource, and quite often they will let you know as soon as they hear about a good job opening up.