If your goals for 2023 include finding a new job, then this checklist is for you.
The process is both exciting and daunting. What roles should you apply for? How many applications should you send each week? There’s a lot to consider and having a thoughtful approach will lead to an outcome that’s aligned with your values and career goals.
Not sure where to start?
For an organized, intentional job search, follow this step-by-step guide, featuring expert insights and tips from our team of recruiters.
1. Create a plan (that aligns with your goals)
First up: Before you start sending out resumes, outline what you want in your next role. You might be thinking it’s a numbers game (the more applications you send the more chances you have, right?). But the truth is, without a plan in place you may end up at an organization that doesn’t align with your values or in a role that doesn’t necessarily support your career goals. Here are a few things to consider when outlining your plan:
- Define your career goals for the next 2-3 years. Think about where you started in your career, where you are now and where you see yourself going next. Do you want to start shifting into a new field? Are you looking for a lateral move or do you see yourself moving to the next level in your career? Knowing your goals means you’ll be applying for jobs that will help you get there.
- Review your past experiences. Think about what you enjoy doing in your current role. What do you want to do more of? Is there something you want to do less of moving forward? These questions will help you narrow in on jobs that allow you to do more of what you enjoy.
- Think about the type of work you want. Are you looking for something fully remote? Somewhere with a fun onsite work culture? Or perhaps you want a little bit of both? Make sure you write it down as part of your career vision.
- Summarize your values. We spend on average 2,087 hours at work a year, so it’s important to work at a place that matches your values both in the workplace culture and the work they do. Knowing this ahead of time will make it clear which organizations are a good fit for you.
2. Do your research
Now that you have an idea of what you’re looking for, think about where you’d like to work. Research organizations that you admire and start creating your list of “dream companies.” Once your list is ready, set up LinkedIn notifications for these companies so that their open roles are sent straight to your inbox. While these won’t be the only organizations to consider, this list will act as a helpful guidepost for the types of companies and workplaces cultures you want to be a part of.
3. Build your skills
With your career goals in mind, think about the gaps in your skillset. Are there any areas you could proactively start building? Take a course on a topic that covers skills you’re trying to grow to complement your job search. It will also give you a tangible example to talk about once you start landing interviews.
Depending on the roles you’re considering, you may want to take courses in soft skills (think: communications, conflict resolution, leadership) or technical skills (think: Microsoft Excel, coding, or social media management). No matter what skills you’re trying to grow, there are a ton of free courses online. Check out this list to get started.
4. Update your resume AND LinkedIn
You’re almost ready to start applying, but first things first. Get your resume and LinkedIn profile ready to show prospective employers your worth. Start with your resume: include your hard and soft skills (try to tailor these to the types of jobs you’ll be applying for) and make sure your job experience is up to date and includes your proudest accomplishments and contributions.
Once your resume is ready, it’s time to update your LinkedIn profile. Update your “About Me” section to reflect your experience, achievements, values and career goals. Finish it off by making sure your experience matches all information on your resume.
Resume Pro Tip: Colleen Connolly, Recruitment Lead for Professional Services at Altis Recruitment, recommends creating an online portfolio—especially for those who work in creative fields like design, photography or writing—to showcase your skills.
Colleen’s Resume Dos and Don’ts:
- Use a program like Grammarly to check for spelling and punctuation errors
- Ensure you use the same font size throughout
- Align your LinkedIn profile with your resume—they must match
- Get written recommendations on your LinkedIn
- Highlight your industry, years of experience, skillset and career progression on your LinkedIn profile.
- For example: Passionate, reliable and adaptable self-starter. I’ve held a number of communications and public relations roles within the entertainment services industry and am currently working in the healthcare industry. Through these roles, I’ve built excellent writing, attention to detail and stakeholder relationship management skills by leading a wide variety of projects focused on internal and external communications, PR, digital content creation and employee engagement. Specialties include: Public Relations, Social and Digital Media, Communication and Writing, Collaboration, Adaptability, Attention to Detail, Enthusiasm, Analytically Minded and Creative, Reliability and Efficient.
- Include references upon request
- Include your full address
- Add hobbies or interests unless tied to your field (e.g., for a marketing specialist – hobbies include content creator, influencer photography)
5. Get organized
This step is optional, but highly recommended (it’s a favourite of spreadsheet fans, everywhere!). Getting organized will help add some calm to your job search process. Set up a Google or Excel sheet and create columns for jobs you applied to, the company name, when you applied and what stage you’re at in the process. This will help you see what percentage of applications turn into interviews and help you track your job search process.
Tip: It’s a good idea to create a custom folder for each job you apply for and save a copy of the job ad in its respective folder (copy and paste it into Word rather than merely bookmarking the link). This way, you can always refer to it if you’re called for an interview.
6. Set up networking calls
Did you know that ~85% of jobs are filled through networking (according to Hubspot)?
Although networking can feel intimidating at first, it opens the door to so many opportunities that you don’t want to miss. Start with close connections in your own network. Let them know you’re looking for new opportunities and set up coffee chats to get their advice and insights. You’ll be surprised how many people are willing to support your job search journey.
Then, start reaching out to key people at your dream companies (your preparation will come in handy here!) and ask if you could chat with them about the workplace over a (virtual or in-person) coffee. Remember to prepare questions in advance to make the most of their time.
Here’s a script you can use to get started:
Networking Pro Tip: Stacey Mallory, Managing Director of Professional Services at Altis Recruitment, recommends following the companies you want to work for, sending messages to those in leadership positions and clarifying that your purpose is networking, rather than getting a job from them immediately.
Bonus tip: Attend networking events (virtual or in-person) in the space you are interested in and meet as many people as possible. Then, send follow-up LinkedIn connection requests and personalized messages.
7. Apply with intention
It’s time! You’ve got your goals in hand, your networking calls booked…you’re ready to start applying (with intention, of course). Here are two things to remember as you start applying:
- Quality over quantity: Sending fewer high-quality applications will lead to better results than applying to every job ad you see.
- Tailor your applications: Hiring managers want to know how your skills match their job needs and their company values. Make sure you tailor each application you send to align with the jobs you’re applying to.
Tip: Remember in step 5 when you created a folder related to each job ad, and saved a copy of the ad in it? It’s also a good idea to save the version of your resume and cover letter that you send, so you know what the interviewer is reading.
8. Get interview ready
Before you know it, you’ll have a calendar filled with interviews. Remember, the key to a great interview is to prepare! While you don’t want to sound scripted, you want to ensure you’re confident speaking about your experience and answering questions about the company. Here’s what you need to prepare before your interview:
- Answers to common interview questions (we have a ton of examples on our TikTok channel!)
- Questions to ask at the end of an interview (here are a few of our favourites)
- The company history, recent news, the work it does and a bit about who you are meeting
- Your compensation range (check out Glassdoor to get an idea of what you should be looking for)
Interview Pro Tip: Stephanie Castro, Senior Recruitment Partner at Altis Recruitment, recommends coming into an interview with energy and enthusiasm and demonstrating your engagement throughout. Once the interview is over, follow up with an email thanking the interviewer for meeting with you (get sample emails here). She also recommends preparing for behaviour-based questions by identifying concrete examples in both your current and previous roles.
9. Build a support system
Searching for a job can often feel like a full-time job. Make sure you have a support system in place to cheer you on during interviews, give you pep talks, and encourage you to keep going.
If you’re looking for extra support, be sure to create a candidate profile with us. Our services are completely free of charge for candidates and our team of recruiters are there to connect talented people with meaningful work.
Here’s how it works: Once you create a profile, start browsing our job portal and applying for available jobs that align with your career goals. If you’re a good match, our recruiters will put you in front of the hiring manager and advocate for you as a candidate. We’re happy to be part of your job search support team!
10. Stay patient and positive
Like all good things, finding a new job takes time. Especially when you’re looking for something that aligns with your career goals and values. Don’t get discouraged. Stay patient and remember that an average job search takes roughly six months. Trust the process, focus on job ads that match your goals, and keep your chin up! You’ve got this.
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