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Prep 101: Because You Should Never Get Caught With Your Pants Down

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Whether you’re a job searching pro or have just figured out that a “Search Agent” has no relation to James Bond, you can minimize the unavoidable chaos that comes with applying and interviewing by making sure you’ve got these basics covered:

An Updated Resume – Unless you’re counting on Uncle Jimmy’s last round of golf with the CEO to land you the job, consider polishing off your old resume or creating a new one. Make sure to cite your most recent contact information, company and position, as well as significant accomplishments pertaining to each role you’ve held. This sounds like a no-brainer, but sadly, companies are no strangers to stale resume information. If you still decide that sending in an old resume will do the trick, just make sure that you’re not touting “attention to detail” as one of your attributes.

A Ready List of References – Want to receive your offer ASAP? Having your list of references at your fingertips can help expedite your offer. Your list is golden if you can provide a former supervisor at each job you’ve previously held. Be ready with both an email address and phone number for your references and give them fair warning that they may be contacted. After all, when companies query your former VP about your performance, “Who?!?” is probably not the response you were hoping to get.

An Organized File of Companies – We’re not sure what’s worse: calling Bob who applied to Dream Job A and getting nothing but confused silence in return, OR Bob “winging it” and speaking about Dream Job A as if it were Dream Job B with our despised competitor. Do everyone a favor and keep a file of where you’ve applied, any research you’ve done on the company, how you applied and when. If you receive a call and do not have this data in front of you, don’t sweat it. Just be candid and let the company representative know that you’d rather schedule some time at a later date to discuss your dream job (the right one) in further detail.

The Right Threads – Gone are the days when “interview attire” is limited to formal suits, ties and stockings. Because the type of company and position you’re interviewing for will largely dictate what you wear, the best general guidance we can provide is to keep things always neat, polished and well-fitting. This means leave the un-pressed, un-mended, stained, too-long, too-short, too-tight, too-loose, too see-through, and stuck-in-the-80’s-but-not-quite-fashionably-retro items in your closet. It’s not even just about getting the job – think of it as a public service.

Your Dollar Requirements – In the simplest terms, know how much you’re making right now. Once again, a seemingly basic no-brainer, but since your salary and incentive compensation needles can move anytime during the year, keeping yourself fully aware of your total compensation package is good practice. Overlooking that $5K spot bonus from 10 months ago may seem insignificant when you first apply to a job, but can be an unexpected deal-breaker when negotiating your offer. To be thorough, value exactly what you think is reasonable to consider – base salary, bonuses, vacation, 401K, healthcare, cost-of-living, your ability to take your dog into work, even the dozen free sodas you gulp from the vending machines daily – and be aware of where your lines of flexibility will be as there will always be a limit to what you are able to negotiate.