As you embark on a new job search, there are plenty of things you can do truly prepare for an effective job search.

Get in Touch with Your Network

If you haven’t been keeping in touch with your network, this is a great time to reestablish the connection. 

If you are fresh in people’s minds, they are more likely to think of you if an opportunity arises in their company that matches your skills and career goals. You can mention that you are keeping an eye out for a new opportunity, but it is most important to just stay in touch with your network and not appear out of the blue only when you are asking for something.

It’s especially important to keep up professional relationships with people you intend to continue using as references. If you put them on your resume but haven’t checked in with them in a year, it’s quite possible your professional skills have faded from their memory. It’s also just bad form to list someone as a reference and have them get a call about you when they haven’t heard from you directly in quite some time.

You should also use this opportunity to make sure your references’ contact information is still accurate. Cell phone numbers and emails change, and having a potential employer get a disconnected message when they call a reference whose number you provided doesn’t speak well of your attention to detail.

Assess and Update Your Strengths

With each passing month and year of your career you have gained new skills and strengths. Before you embark on your job search, you should assess your strengths. They will certainly be different than when you last launched a job search. Perhaps you’ve taken on social media responsibilities at your new job, been promoted and now supervise a team, or have had to prepare new types of reports that you had never had to do in the past.

Social media skills translate to strengthened marketing and digital strengths, supervisory responsibilities mean new management and leadership skills, and any new kind of report or presentation means new strengths in data analysis and possibly new software skills.

Think about what you’ve taken on in the last few years, write it down, and then write down what you’ve learned from each new responsibility. You’ll probably find that your skills and strengths have grown more than you realized, and that you have new skills that will be particularly beneficial in the modern workplace for 2022.

If you haven’t done so, you should also use a tool like the Strengths Assessment 2.0 to learn more about your strengths. Doing so can help you better define not only what you are good at, but also what makes you happy in a job. As you launch your job search, knowing this about yourself can be a great help.

Use and Update Your LinkedIn Profile

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you need to make one. If you do have one, you need to make sure it is updated to reflect your current experience and skill level. Just as you would do with your resume, you should also make your LinkedIn profile aligned toward your ideal position.

To prepare for your job search, you should be active on LinkedIn, do not just let your profile sit idle.

Use it to connect with your network, to add connections that you have made since you last used your profile, and use it to research the industry and positions that you have your eye on. Look at the companies that would be your ideal places of employment, and see what they are doing. This will keep you abreast of their news and well prepared for an interview, as well as keep any job openings they post right in front of you on your LinkedIn feed.

You should set your LinkedIn profile to reflect that you are currently looking for work if you can. Recruiters will be able to find you more easily, opening up more opportunities for you.

You also need to be active on LinkedIn if you want people to find you. Share articles that are relevant to your industry, post examples of your own work if you author articles or do graphic design, or share news items about the company you currently work for. Be professional and be relevant, and your profile will start showing up on more people’s feeds more frequently and giving your job search a boost.

Update Your Resume

It probably seems obvious to say that you should update your resume, but there might be aspects of it that you haven’t considered updating. After you’ve updated the dates and titles of your most recent job, take a look at:

● Strengths/Skills
● Accomplishments
● References

As I mentioned above, you should assess your strengths and skills as you prepare for your job search. Update your resume with what you’ve learned and improved upon, and your resume will be a better fit for the jobs you apply to. You also need to make sure that the strengths you’re listing are appropriate for 2022. 

As you update the strengths on your resume, make sure they are aligned with the job for which you are applying. If you’re just updating your resume generally for 2022, determine what your goals are and list out the strengths that reflect your ideal job.

Along with updating your strengths, you also need to update your accomplishments. Perhaps some of your biggest accomplishments came in earlier jobs, but you need to include at least a couple from your current position to show your continued growth and continued contribution to the companies you’ve worked for.

I touched on the topic of updating your references earlier in the article, but want to also add that updating your resume should include more than just confirming your references’ contact info is correct. You may need to change who you are using for references. If you’re still using the references that you used to help get the job you currently have, it’s time to freshen them up. 

You’ve gained experience, sharpened your skill set and undoubtedly have new projects and achievements to show off. Make sure you have at least one or two more-current references on your resume who can speak to the professional that you are now and what you can offer a company in 2022.

Modernize Your Resume

Modernizing your resume is different from updating your resume. Modernizing it means your resume is ready for the digital world in which we live. You need to make sure it’s AI-friendly as well as formatted to appeal to shorter attention spans and fits in with the graphic-heavy world in which we live.

Many employers now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to weed out resumes. You need to make sure your resume doesn’t get blocked by ATS before it hits a human’s desk. In 2022, this is a real concern for job searchers. Be prepared ahead of time, and know how to optimize your resume for ATS. Optimizing for ATS doesn’t mean speak robot language, but rather that you need to be aware of the patterns and keywords that ATS are searching for when they scan resumes.

Other tips for ATS include:

● Be specific with your dates—AI systems evaluate staying power
● Pare down your skill set to what you are best at or what is most relevant to the industry
● Keep your resume to the experience and skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying to

Even as you’re crafting a resume for the digital age and ATS functions of 2022, you still need to create a resume that will stand out to an actual human! So keep it readable—use proper grammar and don’t overload it with buzzwords just to push it through ATS. It might get through ATS, but a human is just going to throw it away.

As for modernizing your resume’s format for 2022, I recommend that you think about how websites are set up to optimize how people read them and gain information. If you look at modern resumes, you’ll see that there are several ways to offset and emphasize information while maintaining a neat, sleek, and modern look.

Some ideas for modernizing your resume format include:

● Add a graphic—use shapes like arrows with text embedded inside them to denote forward motion or upward growth
● Use bordered or color-filled text boxes within a section to emphasize specific information, such as particularly successful projects or impressive clients
● Play around with fonts. This doesn’t mean use Comic Sans or a complicated script, but you can use different fonts to convey different ideas. If you’re applying for a marketing job, you might use a font that’s a bit more casual or creative than someone who is applying for an investment banking position

If you’ve been waiting to make a career change, now is the time do it. As 2022 forges ahead, get in touch with your network, assess your strengths, use LinkedIn, and update and modernize your resume, and you’ll be well-prepared for your job search.

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