Job Search Checklist for Job-Hunting Success

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

This job-search checklist follows the six essential steps of job-hunting. To have a successful job search, all job-seekers must be sure to have every element on this list checked. To truly master the job search, you’ll want to master each element on the list.

Job-Search Checklist

Part 1: Job Search Planning & Preparation

I have:

a clear understanding of the job search process and have developed a job-search strategy. Read more.
a clear understanding of the jobs that interest me — and that I am qualified for.
outlined a clear career path/track for myself. Read more.
identified my strengths and weaknesses. Read more.
developed my unique selling proposition, which will help me distinguish myself from other job-seekers. Read more.
identified my key accomplishments from all school and work experiences. Read more.
identified my core transferable skills. Read more.
identified the main industries/companies that interest me.
researched the companies that most interest me. Read more.
a clear understanding of the importance of marketing skills when job-hunting. Read more.
gathered a key list (including contact information) of references. Read more.

Part 2: Resumes

I have:

reviewed the Resume Tutorial.
a clear understanding of the different types of resumes formats. Read more.
developed a list (3-4) of key accomplishments for each work experience.
used bullets and short phrases to describe my accomplishments.
avoided the usage of “responsibilities included” or “duties included,” “responsible for.”
provided as much contact information as possible on my resume.
composed a “summary of qualifications” or “key accomplishments” section. Read more.
reviewed samples of strong resumes. Read more.
avoided using personal pronouns (“I,” “my,” “me”) in my resume.
considered using transferable skills (especially if I am a career changer or recent college grad without much experience). Read more.
not listed any personal information (age, marital status, etc.) on my resume.
not lied or provided any false information on my resume.
not listed any references directly on my resume.
proofread my resume carefully and eliminated any errors, typos, and misspellings.

Part 3: Cover Letters

I have:

reviewed the Cover Letter Tutorial.
read about the basic strategy and importance of using a cover letter. Read more.
reviewed the basic structure of a dynamic cover letter. Read more.
examined examples of strong, dynamic cover letters. Read more.
used action verbs to describe my accomplishments. Read more
focused my cover letter with specific information. Read more.
addressed each cover letter to a named individual.
tailored each cover letter to the specific needs of each employer.
clearly stated how I can meet the employer’s needs.
demonstrated my knowledge of the company.
kept my cover letter to one page.
not rehashed my resume, but highlighted specific critical points.
not stated anything negative. Read more.
avoided the three most common cover letter mistakes. Read more.
edited and proofread each letter carefully.
requested action (an interview) from the employer.
reviewed the Cover Letter Checklist.

Part 4: Networking

I have:

reviewed the key elements of networking and why networking plays such an important role in job-hunting. Read more.
researched the role of networking and the hidden job market. Read more.
used (or considered using) informational interviews to gain insights, broaden my network of contacts. Read more.
implemented strategies for how to expand my network of contacts. Read more.
developed a social networking strategy for raising my visibility. Read more.
started using LinkedIn and other social networks to promote my professional brand.
minded my do’s and don’ts of networking. Read more.
assessed my networking skills and made adjustments, as necessary. Read more.

Part 5: Interviewing Skills

I have:

job interview checklist reviewed the Job Interviewing Tutorial.
read about and reviewed different types of job interviews. Read more.
prepared answers for the most common interview questions. Read more.
practiced answering different types of job interview questions. Read more.
taken advantage of mock interviews.
prepared several questions to ask the employer during the interview. Read more.
a clear understanding of the position I am interviewing for.
prepared for the possibility of an initial screening interview by phone. Read more.
read and reviewed the importance of dressing for success. Read more.
taken a practice run so I know how long it will take to reach the interview.
prepared myself to give a firm (and dry) handshake, to make eye contact with the interviewer(s), and to show enthusiasm for the job and company.
researched each company so that I can showcase that knowledge in the interview. Read more.
a clear understanding of the salary negotiation process. Read more.
researched salaries and have clear expectations about salaries.
prepared a “closing” for the interview that expresses my desire for the job and inquires about the next step in the interview process. Read more.

Part 6: Follow-Up

I have:

chased down every potential job lead. Read more.
kept my network of contacts informed of my job search progress.
followed-up each cover letter with a phone call or email to the employer requesting a job interview.
written thank you letters to every person I interviewed with at each company. Read more.
phoned the employer about a week after the first interview to check on the progress of the job search. Read more.
written acceptance or declining letters to all job offers. Read more.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms. Founder Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of He is also founder of and He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at) Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

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