If you’re on the hunt for a new position, you know how important your job search toolkit is to your success. The key components of your toolkit include updated documents (resume, cover letters, etc.), a polished online profile, and an extensive professional network. These pieces work together to give you the best shot at landing your next role.
However, you shouldn’t wait until you’re actively seeking a job to update your toolkit. As you move through your career, your responsibilities and goals will evolve over time. Your toolkit should reflect those changes as they happen. Maintaining an up-to-date toolkit ensures that when the time comes, you’ll have everything you need to land the job of your dreams.
To set yourself up for success, schedule quarterly check-ins to review the components of your job search toolkit. Start by focusing on the following five components:
1. Your Resume
You already know recruiters take about six seconds to scan a resume before tossing it in the “yes” or “no” pile. Your resume is a critical document, and it must stand out immediately.
Despite all the thinkpieces that regularly come out, the truth is not much has changed about resumes. Other than trading objective statements for profile summaries, resumes have maintained the same general format for years. Your bullet points should start with action verbs, and you should include quantified results wherever possible. There’s no need to recreate the wheel; you just have to make the wheel your own.
2. Your LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn has become the No. 1 place to network with other professionals. It’s also a trusted resource for recruiters.
Your profile is just as important as your resume, but if you think you can copy the content from your resume, think again. While your resume should focus on responsibilities and results, your LinkedIn profile should clearly communicate your value proposition.
Not sure where to start with optimizing your LinkedIn profile? Check out this guide from Zety; it’s one of the most comprehensive resources on this subject available.
3. Your Network
There is no way around it. Your networking skills have to be sharp. In today’s fast-paced world, an estimated 80 percent of all jobs are filled through networking. Often, these jobs aren’t even posted online! The only way to get them is to know someone.
While sometimes viewed as a means to an end, networking is actually something you should be doing all the time. There are three tiers of networking you should become well-versed in: accidental networking, active networking for a specific job, and general networking for information and building your contacts.
4. Your Cover Letters
Whatever form your cover letter takes — whether a formal document or an introductory email to a potential employer — it’s critical to get it right.
Abandon the standard “To whom it may concern” and really aim to grab the reader’s attention. Your cover letter should tell a story. It should explain why you’re excited about the position and the company. Additionally, it should illustrate your value proposition. If you can infuse some humor in there, you’ve hit the jackpot.
For instance, if you’re submitting to an ad agency, maybe you open with what you love about a certain commercial or a story of the first time you realized how powerful ads were. Think of it this way: If you were the reader, would your letter stand out to you?
5. Your Thank-You Notes
While they may seem to be a simple formality, thank-you notes can actually be very impactful. This is your opportunity to remind an interviewer of the connection you made during your time together, so don’t waste it! Make sure your thank-you notes aren’t keeping you from getting the job you want!
A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.
Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.