Because everyone should dig their job

How to Start a Job Search

By Alison Doyle

One of the hardest parts of beginning a job search is knowing where to start. The internet has more job sites than you can count, and starting and managing a job search can be complicated. You can’t just go to Google and search for “jobs” because you’ll get more results (over a billion at this point in time) that you’ll know what to do with. Some may be relevant to your job search, most won’t be.

There are job banks, job search engines that search the internet for listings and aggregate jobs from multiple sites, niche job sites that focus on a specific career field or geographic area, networking sites where you can connect with hiring managers and where recruiters can find you, and ways, like writing a blog, to create an online presence that helps build your career.

You may need to use some of these resources, others won’t be necessary. What’s important is to keep your job search as uncomplicated as possible. The simpler it is, the more effective it will be.

So, before you begin your job search you need a plan. You need to have, at least, some ideas about what you want to do. You will also need a resume and to be prepared to write a cover letter for each of the jobs you apply for.


Job Search Plan:
  • Decide what type of job you want (industry, career field, full-time, part-time).
  • Decide what type of job you want (industry, career field, full-time, part-time).

  • Decide where you want to work (geographic area).

  • Write a resume or be prepared to complete job applications.

  • Find job listings.


  • Write cover letters.


  • Apply online.

  • Follow-up.

  • Use your contacts.

There are also some basic tools you will need to conduct a job search. Access to a computer and an email account you can use for job searching are a must. It helps to have a dedicated email you can use so your job search correspondence doesn’t get jumbled with your personal correspondence.


Email Accounts

Free web-based email services are available (Gmail, Yahoo) and if you use one, you will be able to check your email from wherever you are. You will also be able to set up folders where you can keep copies of the resumes you have sent and the correspondence that needs follow-up.

Store Your Documents

Set up a job search folder on your computer (click on Start, My Computer, Your Computer, Make New Folder). Keep copies of the resumes and letters you have sent, so the information will be readily available when you start receiving calls to schedule interviews. Also keep a copy of the emails you send.

You can also store your job search documents online. Upload your resume and cover letters to Google Documents and you will be able to access them from any web browser. That way, you’ll have everything you need to apply for your jobs available on any computer.

Job Search Tools

Consider using a job search management tool like JibberJobber ( to manage your activities online and keep track of where you have applied, who you have contacted, and what you need to do next.

An Excel spreadsheet works, too. Set up columns for:

  • Company Name

  • Date Resume Sent
  • Contact Person

  • Follow Up Date

  • Notes

Another option is the contact manager that comes with some email programs, like Microsoft Outlook. Regardless of what product you use, you need to be able to keep track of your job applications and the people who are helping you with them.

Get all the tools you need in place before you start. It’s much easier to apply for jobs when you’re organized, than when you have to run to the store to get paper for your printer or to the Post Office to get stamps, so you can get a resume in the mail.

Job Search Tools:
  • Computer

  • Printer
  • Phone (landline or cell phone) with voicemail

  • Email Address

  • Organizer / Planner

  • Contact Manager

  • Paper

  • Mailing Envelope

  • Stamps


Get Organized

Set aside some time to work on your job search. Job searching really is a whole lot like work and it’s going to take a dedicated effort to find a new position. One thing to keep in mind is that most people don’t look for jobs on the weekend. So, if you can spend a few weekend hours on your job search, you’ll have an edge over other applicants and your application may be among the first the hiring manager sees on Monday morning.

Get Help

If you’re not sure about what you want to do or are having difficulty with your job search, remember that there is help available. If you’re a college student or graduate, your career services office may be able to assist.

There are career counselors and coaches that can provide assistance. Visit the National Career Development Association ( for a list of certified counselors in your area. Many state department of labor offices provide workshops and assistance for job seekers, as well.

Be Active

You need to actively work at your job search. One job seeker lost an opportunity for what could have been a dream job because he didn’t check his email in a timely manner. By the time he got around to checking it, someone else had been hired.

One of my pet peeves is when job seekers complain that nothing is happening with their job search. Those are often the people who wait a week or so to apply, don’t respond to email from recruiters and contacts, and don’t follow up in a timely manner. If you want the job you need to be first; among the first to apply, the first to respond, the first to send a thank you letter after an interview… you get the idea.


Job Search Checklist:
  • Apply Immediately – Don’t wait to apply for jobs that match your specification.


  • Check Email – check at least twice a day – early in the morning and mid-afternoon, so you can respond the same day you received the message.

  • Respond to Email – answer recruiter and contact email immediately.

  • Telephone – Check for messages throughout the day (if you’re working, check your voicemail during breaks and/or your lunch hour).

  • Mail – Check your mail, too, you may get a letter or postcard asking you to call to schedule an interview.

  • Networking Sites – Outreach to contacts and respond to messages from anyone who is helping you with your job search in a timely manner.