You need to do a lot to be successful in your job hunt. Network. Interview. Send out resumes. Plan things out……there is a lot to do when looking for work. One way to make all of that easier is to prepare for your job search before you start looking for work.

Recently a good friend of mine was laid off from his dream job. I posted a few simple things on LinkedIn that everyone should do before they get laid off. In less than a week, more than 1500 people read that post. Why? Because eventually everyone looks for a new job. And one way to make that better, and easier, is to do some things while you have a job.

Here’s the meat of the post on LinkedIn:

Prepare for your future. Take notes at work on stories you can tell in interviews. Keep your networks alive, by interacting with people (and by helping them when you can). Have an up to date resume. Track all the certifications you have.

These simple things will help you prepare for your jobs search.

Take Notes on Stories for Interviews:

Nearly every interview you are in is going to ask you to tell stories. Whether it’s the ubiquitous “tell me about yourself” or “tell me about a time….”, you will be telling stories during your interview. It’s pretty hard to do that if you haven’t thought about it ahead of time. The easiest thing you can do to help with this is to keep notes on stories as they happen!

If I was still working for someone else, I’d create a file and keep notes on interesting stories at work. I’d make sure I could answer using the SOAR method.

Situation>Obstacle (or Opportunity)>Action>Results

Describe the context, or situation. Then lay out what you had to overcome or were trying to achieve. Tell a good story about what action you took, and what results came of your action. (You can find more information on SOAR all over the internet, or on our site).

So, take notes not just on what you did, but on why, and what happened as a result. Do not trust your brain to remember what those notes mean 2 years later, make them good notes.

Keep Your Network Alive:

Nothing makes your job search easier than a good network. A good network will give you opportunities that aren’t posted on line. It will encourage you when you are down. Your network can give you references (directly, or just by endorsing you on LinkedIn).

People will help you, especially if you’ve helped them.That, to me, is the key. Helping other people will not only make you and them happier, but they’ll help you in the future too. Comment on their LinkedIn Post. Help them out with a problem at work (or home if you know them that well). Just ask a few people out for coffee or whatever, to catch up, maybe one person a week. Then listen to them, really listen. Listen to listen, not to figure out your response.

If you know of someone looking for work, or going through a difficult time, reach out and say hi. Offer to help them by connecting them with someone else. Maybe send them a link to your favorite job search tip!

Have an Up-to-Date Resume:

It’s funny, when I got laid off, I had to search an old PC for my most recent resume. It was missing dates (which I would probably leave off but are still important when for most job applications) of jobs. It was not all that well written. Almost nothing related to my most recent two jobs was even on the resume, and certainly not anything about what I was currently doing!

This isn’t really about having an up-to-date resume, that seems like over kill to me. Besides, no matter how up to date it is, you’ll need to edit it some to reflect where you are today. You’ll probably change some words depending on what job you are applying for.

But, you should have a list of the following:

  • Every job you’ve had, and where it was located
  • When you started and stopped every job (if you are older, these dates aren’t making it onto your resume, but you’ll still need them to fill out most applications)
  • Your job tasks for each position
  • A good story or two about each position (see above)

The rest of your resume is something you’ll want to do when you decide to look for work. But, you really need an up to date list of what will go on your resume (and some stuff that won’t).

These are just three ways to prepare for your job search

You can do a lot more preparation, but sometimes it’s best to keep things simple. The most obvious way this will help is by making it easier to create a resume, and to answer questions. But, maybe more importantly, it will help you be relaxed. You won’t have to agonize over all of this, which is especially hard when you are stressed out about losing your job and looking for work.

How have you prepared? Let us know in the comments.