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What are the first steps to take when looking for a job?

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There is a lot of competition in the job market, and lots to consider. Relax! Proper planning, based on your own personal needs, will go a long way towards making your job search a success. This takes time and effort. So, before you “jump in with both feet,” have a look at these six first steps. 
Six steps to prepare for a job search 
Step 1. Identify your skills.
The very first step in a successful job search begins with you! Have an honest, analytical look at yourself. Don’t be negative at this stage. Instead, brag about yourself! You are the product being marketed to employers. What do you have to offer?
Write down the answers to these questions:
  1. What is your educational background? What courses have you taken? What courses did you like most?
  2. What seminars, courses, or other training have you done outside of the classroom?
  3. What volunteer or charitable work have you done?
  4. What sports activities or hobbies have you taken part in, inside or outside of school?
  5. What is your previous employment history? What jobs did you like most?
  6. What awards or recognition have you received in the past?
  7. What important life experiences (such as travel or study) have you had?
  8. What skills or personal qualities do you feel you have, based on your education, employment, and life experiences?
By answering these questions, you will begin to identify your important skills and traits. This will go a long way in helping you to prepare an effective resumé and, ultimately, to land a great job!
Step 2. Think about work that interests you.
Think about what you want to do. Just as it makes no sense to apply for a job you are not qualified for, it makes no sense to apply for a job that does not interest you. The secret is to look for something you love.
What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies? What tasks or activities have you enjoyed doing in the past? Use this planning time before you begin your job search to know yourself, assess your skills and interests, and determine the type of job you would like to pursue.
If you are unsure where your interests lie, consider taking a self assessment test, or speaking with an employment counsellor. This will help you to steer your job search in the right direction. The more you learn about yourself, the easier it will be to find that “perfect” job!
Step 3. Get organized.
A typical job search will generate a large amount of information. There is a lot of paper and details to manage, such as information from online research, various versions of your resumé for different jobs, a daily task list, and corresponding by e-mails. Set up a clean workspace where you can devote your time and energy to looking for work. Establish a system to organize your job search and remember to use it.
Use a calendar to keep track of daily appointments and to list your daily tasks. Create file folders on topics such as Contacts, Cover Letters, Resumés, and Research. Save copies of all correspondence either on paper or through folders on your computer. This will help ensure that you follow up with everyone. Getting organized will allow you to get a lot more work done. Better still, it will help you to maintain a positive attitude that you are one step away from your next job!
Step 4. Prepare an effective resumé.
The main purpose of a resumé is to get you an interview. Usually, a recruiter will only look at a resumé for 10 to 30 seconds. That means yours has to stand out from the pile. An effective resumé is clear, concise, logically organized, and attractively formatted. It is the most important document in the job search.
Ensure your resume is updated and complete before you begin looking for work. It has to be available at a moment’s notice should an employer request it. And, by preparing a resume early on, you are forced to examine the “selling points” you have to offer. That helps you plan how you want to present them.
Show your resumé to a few people who know you. They can tell you if it is a good reflection of you as a person. They may also be able to point out things you missed.
Step 5. Plan your strategy.
A job search can be a full-time job. It will seem less daunting if you make a plan to do a little bit each day. Prepare a list of tasks and divide them among the days in the week.
Here are some of the best job search strategies:
  • viewing online job boards
  • posting your resumé online to a resumé bank
  • directly contacting employers
  • answering classified ads in newspapers
  • using network contacts
  • tapping into the hidden job market
  • visiting an employment centre or school career centre
  • using a placement agency
  • joining an industry association
  • attending a career fair
  • doing an internship
  • volunteering your time
  • starting your own company 
There are many more! Use a combination of many different strategies to increase your chances of finding employment.
Step 6. Start early.
Applying for a job takes time. Start your job search early so that you leave yourself lots of time to consider your options. Taking the first job that you stumble upon may not be the right answer. As well, your finances will take a big hit without steady employment. So, leave enough time to plan and to consider all of your options.

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