It's tough out there in the job market, and it's critical to be prepared with the right tools. Of course, you need an up-to-date resume and some interview attire, but that's not all. Here are ten things that every job seeker must have:
1) a grown-up, non-free email account. Nothing at hotmail or msn, and nothing with “sailinggirl” or “babytoasty” in it.
2) a voicemail system that you listen to regularly, with a message that’s not too silly.
3) a job search business card - even if you are already employed and you have a company business card. Go to www.vistaprint.com and get the free business cards there (you have to pay for shipping) with your name, email address, phone number, and three bullet points on them. The bullet points should highlight the three most compelling points about you - for instance Marketing Research Professional; Agency and In-House Experience; and Fanatical About ROI.
4) membership in the online network WorldWIT (it’s free: sign up at www.worldwit.org) - just join whichever chapter is closest to you.
5) membership in LinkedIn (it’s also free: www.linkedin.com) and connections to as many former colleagues, friends and business contacts as you can manage.
6) a brisk, pithy resume of ONE PAGE in three formats: plain text (for inclusion in email messages), MS Word, and hardcopy.
7) a crisp, on-the-spot elevator speech about your background and your ideal next job. Practice in front of the mirror. When you're asked, for instance at a networking event, to talk about yourself, you don't want to stumble.
8) one killer outfit for the Very Special Interview, and one slightly less killer (meaning expensive) outfit for every other interview.
9) a headhunter in your pocket - just to advise you, whether you’re headhunter material or not.
10) a computer with internet connection. If you don’t have one, get familiar with your local Kinko’s!
With the Job-Seeker's Toolkit assembled, you're ready to hit the ground running. One other item that might come in handy is a sense of humor: you're sure to see some very strange and amusing things once you hit the circuit. Keep your chin up! There's learning in all of it.
Liz Ryan is a former Fortune 500 HR leader, a workplace expert and the founder of the global online network WorldWIT (http://www.worldwit.org ). She writes the workplace column for Business Week online, her own Business Mom and Job Jungle blogs at http://www.worldwit.org/blogs.aspx , and speaks internationally on women in the workplace, work and life, and the post-millennial corporate lifestyle. Liz lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband and five children.