How to Prepare for a Job Search

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Sometimes, it happens by choice. Sometimes, you don't have an option. In either case, it's important to be prepared to change jobs - because you never know when it might happen to you. If possible it's good to stay on excellent terms with your previous employers by always giving plenty of notice, offering to help find and train a replacement, and offering to be available for questions in the future.

Take Care of the Basics First

Whether you're about to hand in your resignation or you've just received a pink slip, it's important to prepare to leave and to prepare to conduct a job search. Take care of the basics first and check on eligibility for continuation of health and life insurance benefits, accrued vacation pay, unused sick pay, and other payments terminated employees may be entitled to.

Keep in mind, that there may be a lag between when your current health insurance coverage ends and a new policy starts. If you've been terminated, ask your employer about eligibility for continuing cover through COBRA and file for unemployment immediately. You may be able to file over the phone or online. Also, check into the government's Marketplace Insurance (Obamacare) plans.

When your work situation is unstable and you're not sure if you'll still have a job tomorrow, get ready to start a job search now. Remember, you don't have an obligation to accept a new position if you get an offer. Plus, it never hurts to see what's available and, you never know, you just might get an offer you can't refuse!

How to Prepare for a Job Search

  • Resumes and Cover Letters: It's important to have a well-written resume and compelling cover letters. Simply, resumes help get us interviews. A cover letter is often your earliest written contact with a potential employer, creating a critical first impression. Use our Resume and Cover Letter Guide to ensure that your job search correspondence is top-notch.
  • References: Plan ahead and compile a list of references and some letters of recommendations, so you're prepared when a prospective employer requests them. Get contact information for your co-workers, vendors, customers, etc. so you'll have it for future networking purposes.
  • Contact Information: Use non-work contact information for all your job search communications. That way, if your access is cut-off at work, you'll still be reachable by having a home phone or a cell phone with voice mail so potential employers can reach you or by a non-work email.
  • Reason for Leaving: If you've quit, or are planning on quitting, be prepared with an answer for interviewers who are going to want to know why you resigned.
  • Worried About Getting Caught? Apply confidentially for jobs online. There are ways to keep your job search confidential and protect your identity from certain employers and recruiters.
  • Don't Leave Anything Behind: Clean-up your computer. Delete personal files and email, and bring home your personal belongings

Finally, if you are resigning, always leave on the best terms you possibly can and don't burn any bridges. Let the company know in advance that you're leaving, let them know why (as diplomatically as possible) and thank them for having had the opportunity to work there.