A Job Search Checklist

As an Employment Counsellor, I spend every single work day surrounded by people who are either out of work entirely, or only working a few hours here and there part-time and are looking for jobs with more hours, higher income or closer to their homes etc. I have tremendous enthusiasm and a high personal investment in helping as many people reach their goal of finding employment. However, the one person who should want someone to find a job even more than me is the person themselves.

You might think that this would be the case with every single job seeker, but you’d be wrong. When you work with people day after day who are looking for work, you can quickly identify in a matter a seconds the most obvious people who don’t want it bad enough. But there are people who want to work badly and don’t know how to go about looking seriously and successfully for employment in 2014. And that got me thinking that maybe a list would be handy as a review of good job searching habits. This isn’t a complete list, but it includes some important, “Must Do’s”.

1. Commit To A Routine: Just as a job has set hours, you should devote blocks of time to your job search, because for now at least, looking for a job IS your job! Get up, shower, get dressed and get at it each day in an area you set aside as your job search base.

2. Know What You Want: With a clear idea of what job or field you would be happiest working in, you can avoid the trap of wasting time scanning ads and reading postings for jobs you can’t compete for or don’t really want. Stay focused on locating jobs you are qualified for.

3. Avoid Distractions: Putting in a load of laundry, watching television, ringing up friends, tidying up the kitchen, preparing meals, sunbathing, playing a video game; while you are at home there are distractions looming everywhere. Again, stay focused and put in the time necessary to succeed. If were at work, you couldn’t do any of these things, and your home is now your work location!

4. Identify Your Strengths: List on paper the skills you have and the things you can do that you’re good at. Don’t be modest be honest! These are the things you do well, that previous employers appreciated in you, recognized you for and co-workers appreciated.

5. Identify Your Values: What’s important to you? Again, list on paper the things which you value in a workplace. Some to consider are integrity, high quality customer service, friendly atmosphere, bottom-line profits, people-centered, etc. What’s important to you?

6. Target Your Resume: Employers will be most attracted to reading resumes that specifically address their needs. The more it addresses what they are looking for, the higher the likelihood you’ll get asked to an interview. The more general it is, the less likely you’ll get that invitation.

7. Update Your Clothing: Now may be the time to make sure you have suitable clothing for any upcoming interview. Don’t wait until you get the call asking you to come in tomorrow to realize you have nothing to wear. And if it takes 2 or 3 interviews, don’t wear the same things.

8. Get References: Same as above, don’t wait until you are at an interview and asked for 4 references to start thinking about who you could provide. Talk with past co-workers, supervisors, owners, managers, friends, former clients and customers. Get their full names and contact information now.

9. Use Cover Letters: A cover letter is read by 50% of employers. Because you can’t be sure whether it will be expected or not, write one. Introduce yourself and talk about the value you bring, why you’re a great fit, set up your resume and clearly ask for an interview.

10. Make An Appropriate Email: Avoid using email addresses that contain your birth year or age. If the computer rejects your chosen name and offers others with numbers, strongly consider revising your choice to use some combination of your full name only. Keep it professional.

11. Use Social Media: Sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and, Twitter give you job postings, allow you to network online, and learn of openings. They also put you in contact with people who work at the companies you most want to work for. Use them and increase your odds.

12. Clean Up Your Online Presence: Employers do check social media websites trying to see the real you. You may be entirely qualified according to your resume but never get a call. Why? Maybe they searched your name, read or saw something that put them off, and you’ll never know how close you were to getting that interview, or more importantly why you didn’t.

13. Follow Up: Applying for a job is only the beginning. Make contact to ensure your resume has been received and express your enthusiasm for the job, going so far as to assertively ask for an interview. You want it bad right? Demonstrate you want the job!

14. Be Prepared For Rejection: For every person who gets a job, there will be many more who get rejected. It makes sense then to expect rejection during your job search. It’s normal and common so learn from it when it happens. Find out if you can why you came up short and what you can do to increase the odds next time.

15. Spelling And Grammar: Poor spelling and mistakes in grammar give the employer the impression you don’t care to proofread or don’t have the necessary education to know the difference.

4 thoughts on “A Job Search Checklist

  1. These are all very good points, but I think you need to keep a balance on following up. By all means do so, but don’t make yourself look desperate. One call to see if they have received your resume and express your interest in the job should be enough. Also, read the application instructions carefully. If it says “no phone calls” or “only those who are shortlisted will be contacted”, be careful. I have read that a lot employers are blacklisting those who don’t follow instructions and call anyway.


    1. Good points Deb and thanks for adding your voice. Hard to balance your enthusiasm for following up and wanting to be differentiated from your competition and what you describe.


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