Your Job Search Checklist

The job search can be extremely difficult - particularly right now. Use this proven, step-by-step checklist to help you stay organized and focused through every phase of your search.

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A strong resume gets past resume screeners and encourages hiring managers to interview you.

What you should do

Use a readable template

When you apply online, your resume first gets read by resume screening software (i.e. Applicant Tracking Systems). Many candidates get rejected for using resume templates that are unreadable by these tools. Ensure your resume will be read correctly.

⭐️   Download a free resume template here (Word doc). More templates here.

⭐️   Use standard fonts and section titles. Read more

⭐️   Use Word or Google Docs to create your resume, and export it in PDF. Avoid Photoshop and creative design tools. Read more.

Accomplishment-oriented bullet points

There's a lot to cover here, and the best recommendation is to use our free tool, Score My Resume.

It uses AI to analyze your resume and tell you where you've gone wrong. It performs over 50 checks on your resume and typically finds an average of 15 easily fixable errors on every resume, enough to cost you an interview.

⭐️   Your resume should be a summary of your accomplishments, not your responsibilities. It should not read like a job description.

⭐️   Use action verbs and numbers to describe your accomplishments. Here's an example of how to write effective bullet points.

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Online Presence

The better your LinkedIn profile, the more easily recruiters will find you. This means more opportunities that come directly to you.

What you should do

Update your LinkedIn profile

Keep your LinkedIn profile and your work experience up-to-date. Make sure you have an engaging LinkedIn headline and summary.

⭐️   Use an engaging LinkedIn headline. See examples here.

⭐️   Write a better LinkedIn summary. Generate one here.

⭐️   Make sure your LinkedIn matches up with your resume, including your job titles and work history.

Keyword optimize your LinkedIn profile

An optimized LinkedIn profile helps recruiters find and contact you when they have new roles they need to fill. To identify keywords to use in your profile, go through job descriptions you are applying for or look at top LinkedIn profiles in your industry.

⭐️   Use the free LinkedIn Optimization tool to get actionable tips on how to improve your LinkedIn profile and optimize it for specific keywords. Most users see an overnight uptick in new recruiters reaching out to them for the roles they want.

⭐️   Tailor your LinkedIn profile to the industry or job you want to join; update your job titles accordingly.

Clean up your social profiles

Spend time going through all your social profiles, not just LinkedIn, and make sure there's nothing on there you don't want a future employer to see.

⭐️   Put your non-professional social profiles (e.g. Instagram, Twitter) on private for your job search if you need to!

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Finding a job online

Go through niche job boards and connect with recruiters.

What you should do

Search niche job boards related to your field

While the standard approach is to go to Indeed or LinkedIn to find a job, you'll often find that there are many jobs that are especially suited to you that aren't aggregated by those larger job sites. You want to try find the smaller job sites that employers post dedicated jobs on - this means you'll be competing against less people and will get a higher response rate.

⭐️   To find niche job sites, go to Google and search "[your industry] jobs". Examples could be for remote jobs or Dice for tech jobs.

⭐️   You can also use Indeed, Monster and LinkedIn to find jobs, but use them in addition to the niche job sites. Employers are bombarded with irrelevant applications on the larger sites so they often spend less time and focus reviewing applications that come from there.

Contact a recruiter directly

Have a company in mind or already have a contact at a company you want to work at? Get in touch with the recruiter.

⭐️   For inspiration, here are LinkedIn and email templates you can send to your contacts to ask for a job.

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Applying for a job online

Go through these steps for each job you find online.

What you should do

Tailor your resume to a job posting

To get past the resume screeners, you should tailor your resume to each job you apply to. Do this by including the most important keywords the job description requires.

⭐️   This is usually time consuming, but we've made it easy for you. Targeted Resume is a free tool that analyzes the job description you're applying to and tells you exactly what the job is looking for, as well as what your resume is missing. It takes a couple of seconds to 'keyword optimize' your resume.

⭐️   Save the job description on your computer when you apply for a job. The employer might remove it by the time your interview is scheduled.

Cover letter (optional)

A cover letter can be a great way to stand out from other applicants, especially for your dream job.

⭐️   Avoid summarizing your resume! If you're sending a cover letter, it should add something new.

⭐️   See examples of cover letters here.

⭐️   It can be tedious to write one for each job application, so you can reuse parts of your cover letter for different jobs, as long as you sufficiently customize the introduction and key skills.

Follow up with the recruiter

It's usually very easy to find the recruiter responsible for the role you just applied to. Find their contact on LinkedIn or Google and connect with them on LinkedIn or email.

⭐️   Connect with them on LinkedIn with a personalized connection request.

⭐️   To make things even easier for you, I've compiled these LinkedIn and email templates you can send to a recruiter right after you have applied.

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Get an introduction or referral

In addition to applying online, you should also reach out to your network and try to get an introduction to a company. This is optional, but it can dramatically increase the chances of getting an interview.

What you should do

Ask your network who's hiring

You might already know people who are employed at companies you want to work at. They can directly refer you to companies so you can skip the initial resume screening stage.

⭐️   If you have a company in mind, go to LinkedIn and find people in your first degree network who work at your dream companies.

⭐️   More detail is in the free How to Get a Job Referral playbook.

Get introduced by your mutual contacts

Use LinkedIn to find contacts outside of our immediate network that we have mutual connections with. We'll then ask our mutual connections for a 'warm' introduction to those contacts.

⭐️   Chances are that you have friends - or friends of friends - who already work at your dream companies.

⭐️   To make things even easier for you, I've compiled introduction templates you can send to your contacts right away.

Set up informational interviews and get referred

There's a lot to this, so we recommend checking out this free detailed guide we created to help you get a job referral.

⭐️   Do not ask for a job or a referral directly. Instead, ask your contacts about their company and get a sense of if it's the right role for you. Take notes - these learnings will also help you stand out at the interview stage.

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How to prepare for the interview.

What you should do

Prepare questions to ask the interviewer

At the end of your interview, your interviewer is always going to ask you, "Do you have any questions for me?". Be prepared!

⭐️   To make things even easier for you, I've compiled the best questions you can ask an interviewer at the end of an interview.

⭐️   This is your opportunity to find out if the company is the right fit for you. Plus, asking smart questions will make sure you leave a lasting impression on your potential employer.

Learn about the employer

Find out what the organization does, who their clients are and their approach.

⭐️   Go to the company's About Us to start with, see their recent news, and particularly funding or strategy announcements.

⭐️   Find out what makes them different from their competition.

Learn the job description

Make sure you know the job description well enough. Know what your day-to-day responsibilities are and what teams you will be working with.

⭐️   Your interviewer is going to ask you why you think you're a good fit for the role.

⭐️   For each responsibility or task on the job description, come up with an example of why you have the right experience or skills for it.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Practice the most common interview questions with a friend or in front of the mirror.

⭐️   You will almost definitely be asked, "Tel me about yourself" and "Tell me about a time when...". Have answers ready for these.

⭐️   Nerves are normal, and even the most experienced interviewers get nervous. Practice with your interview clothes on - seriously. This will help reduce nerves on interview day!

⭐️   A great resource for interview questions is this Interview question list

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Good luck!

The job search can be incredibly grueling, but we hope our free tools make it easier. To get tools like this and career insights straight to your inbox, join our private list here.

Behind the curtains, we're a small team obsessed with doing everything we can to help you get what you want out of your career. We hope that every tool or resource we create will add value to you - that's our mission. If we can make them better or you have any feedback, please get in touch - we'd really appreciate it.

If you found this playbook useful, we'd really appreciate you sharing it with your network. Not only would it also benefit them, but it also enables us to reach more people and as a result, maintain this guide and invest into creating new free material.