Why? Because there's a lot to do and once you start actively job searching, you'll want to be as prepared as possible to make the best impression you can on recruiters. Here are a few things to think about:
What type of job do you want?
"I'll take anything" doesn't impress too many people. Give some thought to what you want to do next and who you'd like to work for. Map out your geographic target area (can you relocate?). Decide on your industry (just retail or can you branch out?). Focus on your preferred job function (store operations or loss prevention?) and job level (district or regional manager?).
Yes, it's okay to have more than one job target, but it's important to get that "anything" down to "something."
Will your resume give you the best chance of success?
You can't start networking or targeting employers if your resume isn't optimized and ready to go. "Yeah, I'd be happy to send it once I find it" isn't a great response to a recruiter.
Should you hire a professional resume writer? Well, I'm biased because I am a professional resume writer, but in my opinion if you want the best chance of success, you should at least look into it. Find someone who specializes in your field and has recommendations from people in your industry and at your job level. Here are some questions to ask. If you do hire a professional, keep in mind that the process may take a bit of time.
Our job is to give you a resume that will increase your chances of getting interviews. Most people consider that a worthwhile investment in their career.
Is your LinkedIn profile current and compelling?
Sometimes a recruiter will see your resume first and then check out your profile. Other times, depending on how active you are on social media, they may see your LinkedIn profile first, contact you from there, and then ask for your resume. Therefore, both need to be current and ready to make an exceptional first impression.
There has long been rigorous debate about what to put in your LinkedIn profile. I believe it should be very similar to your resume, if you're job searching. As I said above, you never know what they will come across first, so why save the best stuff for your resume? If they're not impressed with your profile, they may not ask for it.
Here are some more thoughts on the matter.
Do you have recommendations on LinkedIn?
Getting recommendations for your LinkedIn profile (not endorsements) used to be considered an option - a "nice to have." Now, it's pretty much expected. If you have any type of work history behind you and you don't have any recommendations on LinkedIn, recruiters will wonder why.
Start now - connect with past supervisors, peers, and team members and ask for recommendations wherever you can. Some people say get only 3-5. Why? Get as many as you can - they can only help.
But remember, these often take time because you're working on other people's schedules.
Do you have references on stand-by for recruiters to contact?
References and recommendations are not the same thing, but both need your attention. Recruiters will check your LinkedIn profile and they will read your recommendations there, but they will also likely ask for a list of references - people they can call.
You can use the same people, if you like. If someone is giving you a written recommendation for your LinkedIn profile, they may be okay with talking to a recruiter on the phone about you - but always, always ask first.
And make your list ahead of time. Again, if a recruiter asks for it and it takes you a week or two to assemble it, you won't be making a great impression.
Do you have a plan?
The more you plan, the more likely your job search will be successful. So what are you going to do? Scan the internet for job postings? Contact everyone you used to work with to let them know you're in the market? Nothing wrong with that, but I've always felt an active, assertive approach where you go after exactly what you want is the best method of job searching.
Here's the job search strategy that I recommend.
In any big project, planning and preparation are critically important. Job searching is the same - it requires time and commitment in order to make it as successful as possible. Don't wait until the last minute.
Best of luck!