Searching for a new job can be stressful, especially if you do not know where to begin. These tips aim to help you identify the steps that you will need to take in order to start your search.

First, you need to identify your target. This means figuring out what you want in a job. Completing a personality assessment is one thing that may help, often times these assessments will use your personality, likes and dislikes to recommend a career. This can give you ideas to work with, and start you off so you can research different types of jobs through the internet or other means and you may be able to find a type of job that you would like or that would start you on the correct track.

The second thing you will want to do before starting your search is build a résumé. This will be one of your most important tools, as your résumé is likely to be one of the first pieces of your work that your potential future employer sees, and making a strong first impression is important. While building your résumé one thing you will want to do is identify at least three individuals to serve as your references. Professional references, such as supervisors or coworkers, are best, however if you do not have any then personal references will work. Contact the people that you will want to use as references so that they know and you can gain their permission, and while doing so, make sure to get their contact information to put down. Once you have this, review our blog “Building a Résumé” (here) and begin drafting your own, and then get it critiqued by a peer. Once you are done, for networking purposes you may want to send out a copy of your résumé to the individuals you used as references.

Before you begin your search, you will want to do a few more small things. First, make sure you are using a professional email address (e.g. “john.smith@gmail.com” “jsmith@gmail.com” etc), voicemail and, if applicable, ring back tone. In order to develop interviewing skills, practice interviews often! You may even go in to interviews for jobs you don’t really want just to practice interviewing. Finally, you will want to create a brief spiel about yourself (roughly 30 seconds) for any encounters you may have with potential employers.

Finally, you are ready to start your search. The first thing to do is analyze your transportation. Do you have a car? If so, what would be the cost of commuting? If you don’t, you may want to narrow your search to something that you can take the bus to (figure out bus routes!) or even be able to walk to. Remember to account for poor weather conditions. Network by telling everyone that you meet that you are job searching and asking if they know about any openings. Talk with former coworkers, and attend networking events such as job fairs. One tool that you will want to utilize is the internet. Use Craigslist or similar sites to search for job openings. Look at your state’s website to find government jobs to apply to. Fill out applications online if the option is available, and find out if any job fairs are scheduled near you. Utilize sites such as Google maps when planning your route when dropping off résumés and applications. Remember though that many job openings are not advertised online or in the paper, so do not rely too heavily on online work.

Once you have any job leads you should follow up immediately, do not wait a day or two. Follow up with employers via phone or stopping in. If you do stop in and a manager is not there, ask when they will be so you know when to stop in again. When you do drop in, be sure to ask for a phone number or a card so that you may follow up. Keep a copy of your résumé accessible in case of an employer calling to ask you questions or schedule an interview. Once you have completed an interview, follow up a phone call a few days after, or send a thank you note. Don’t be afraid to follow up multiple times.

Remember, until you have a job, this is your job! Apply all of the time and energy to searching for employment as you would a job.