Essential Checklist for Applying for a Job

You know you’re ready for a career change (check). And you’ve decided what direction you’d like to head in (check), so you’ll know what type of job to look for (check). What can you do next to get yourself fully prepared for a successful job search? We’ve compiled a complete list to get you on your way to your next opportunity.

As you prepare for your next job, work your way through the following list and check each item off:

  1. Update your resume. Cover all your most recent job positions, what you accomplished at them and how you helped the company. Also, don’t forget any skills you acquired through training, classes, certifications, etc.
  2. Refresh your cover letter. Your cover letter should have a basic framework you can customize for each job you apply to. Remember, a cover letter should never be generic. It should tell a short story to illustrate your passion for your line of work.
  3. Clean up your LinkedIn page. Be sure everything matches your updated resume. You may wish to spring for a professional head shot.
  4. Learn your resume inside and out. Your interviewer will want to discuss it, so be sure you can expand on and answer any questions they may have about your skills and experience.
  5. Scour popular job sites. These include, and You can search through job postings, post your resume, or both.
  6. Visit professional association websites. If you’re a member of a professional industry organization, it may provide a career service link on the website.
  7. Contact colleagues. You never know who may be aware of a job opening. So while you’re looking, don’t be afraid to reach out to college friends or past co-workers.
  8. Work with a recruiter. A staffing agency can help you find “hidden” job opportunities that aren’t currently advertised to the public. This can make it much faster and easier to find a new job.
  9. Reach out to your references. You don’t want your job references to be blindsided if contacted out of the blue. Reach out to them and let them know you’re currently interviewing, and what you’ve been up to career-wise.
  10. Get a new interview outfit. If you haven’t interviewed in a while, don’t just brush the dust off your old interview suit. Treat yourself to something new—it will help with your confidence when you know you look good.
  11. Know how to respond to, “So, tell me about yourself.” This will almost certainly be asked during the any interview. Be prepared with a killer answer.
  12. Practice reciting your strengths and weaknesses. Though less common, this question can make you stammer if you’re not prepared. Have your answer ready to go, in case you’re asked.
  13. Understand what makes you unique. What makes you better than the next candidate? Be ready to explain, and offer examples from your qualifications and experience. How does your skill set translate to the new job?
  14. Research the company. Always do your homework by reading up on the company and the open position before your interview.
  15. Know why you want the job. Why are you leaving your job for something new? Your interviewer will want to know.
  16. Polish your shoes. Clean shoes help you appear professional.
  17. Prepare an interview kit. This could include breath mints, a sewing kit, a stain stick, band aids, water or anything else you might need at the last minute.
  18. Don’t forget to breathe right before you go into your interview. It might sound silly, but it will help you calm down.
  19. Shake on it. A good, firm handshake (at the beginning and end of the interview) will help you establish your confidence.
  20. Follow up. A thank-you email or note to each person who interviewed you is a must. This also gives you a second chance to expand on anything you may not have gotten to in the interview.

Looking for a good recruiter?

In your job search, a recruiter is a valuable ally. If you’re looking for a job in Minnesota or Wisconsin, check out THE RIGHT STAFF, LLC. Contact our team today to learn more!

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