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4 Things You Must Do Before Commencing Your Job Search

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Joanne Poh

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There comes a point in almost every Singaporean’s career when, after yet another all-nighter at the office/getting screwed over by your boss/realising you’re being underpaid, you decide this is the last straw and take to JobsDB.com with a vengeance.

But don’t just start spamming every vaguely relevant-sounding job listing with your resume, no matter how desperate to change jobs you are.

Just as you wouldn’t go on a blind date without brushing your teeth, you don’t begin your job search without doing certain things in preparation. Here are are four things you should do before you launch your attack.

 

Contact your character references

While it isn’t a good idea to include the contact details of your references on your resume unless you are specifically asked to do so in the job posting, there is a high chance you will be asked to provide them at the interview.

And when that happens, you don’t want your main contact, whom you haven’t seen in five years, to ask “who’s that?” when a prospective employer calls him up to ask about you.

To avoid that very awkward situation, give your character references a heads up to tell them you’ll be passing their contact details to prospective employers. Getting in touch also helps you check whether their office phone number or position at work have changed.

Make sure you approach your character references with some tact if you want them to say nice things about you. Always apologise for not staying in touch if it’s been some time since you last spoke, and request politely to use them as a character reference rather than act entitled about it.

 

Update your resume

It goes without saying that you should update your resume before you send it out in job applications, but many people just write a few lines about their current job and think that’s enough.

Your current (or last, if you’re unemployed) job is likely to be the section prospective employers pay the most attention to, so this is not something you want to update carelessly. While you might only write a line or two on that very first job you held as a part-time admin assistant back at uni, your latest job deserves a lot more detail.

Even if you already sent out your resume a few months ago, be sure to check that you haven’t left out any achievements or notable projects you’ve worked on since.

 

Research the company and role

Show up at an interview with only a vague idea of what the company does and what the role you’re interviewing for entails, and you definitely will not get the job even with an above average resume.

So make sure you do adequate research before you show up. Unless the company is some SME run by an ah pek who doesn’t understand why you need to have a website, you should be able to get a good idea of what the company does just by browsing their site.

Knowing what the specific role entails is trickier, especially if you’re a fresh grad or making a career switch, as you may not have worked in a similar capacity before. Job descriptions are usually targeted at professionals in the industry but may not be as clear to outsiders. The best way is to show the job ad to someone you know who works in the industry and have them decode the jargon for you.

 

Make sure your interview clothing fits and you have the right folder for your documents

There is nothing worse than being suddenly invited to an interview that takes place in 24 hours, only to realise that the last time you wore a suit you were 15 kg lighter, and even then it was a tight squeeze.

Ideally, you should make sure you have an appropriate interview outfit before you start your job hunt. A company that’s really keen to hire you might contact you soon after receiving your resume, and you don’t want to find yourself running in a panic to G2000 because you don’t have an appropriate interview outfit.

It’s also a good idea to bring along a few copies of your resume to the interview—I once went to an interview where the hiring manager hadn’t seen the entire second page of my resume because of some problem with the office printer. Print out the names and contact details of your character references on a separate sheet in case you’re asked to supply them.

You’ll want to make sure you put these documents in a decent-looking, plain folder—basic black is the safest bet in a corporate environment. You definitely don’t want to show up with a flimsy transparent plastic folder with your secondary school’s crest emblazoned across the front.

What are your must-dos before you begin job hunting? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.