Looking for a new job can be overwhelming, with so many moving parts and mentally draining elements like writing great cover letters, interviewing, and following up. It’s tough to stay on track! But the truth is, if you’re serious about finding a new job there are a few essential steps you just can’t miss.

Here is a comprehensive checklist to help you stay organized and nail the job search process. There are five “sections” and several checkpoints within each. Ready? You got this!

  1. Plan & prepare
  • Thoroughly consider what you’re looking for in a new job or company, including values, culture, location, opportunities for growth and anything else that’s important to you.
  • Evaluate what types of jobs are you qualified for. Are there additional skills you need before applying for a job you desire?
  • Consider your expectations for salary and benefits. While you want to keep an open mind, knowing these factors will help you evaluate opportunities.
  • Think about how will you distinguish yourself from other job seekers.
  • Have you researched the field and companies you are interested in?
  • Reach out to your network: are there any personal contacts or advocates you have that could provide an intro at these companies? You will be able to identify these contacts in the Rake app when you save jobs.
  • Begin searching for jobs that interest you and save them from anywhere using Rake. Be sure to save a copy of the job description in the app as well.
  1. Update and prepare your resume
  • Is your resume up to date with your latest job(s), as well as any skills, certifications, knowledge and interests you have since developed?
  • Consider creating a personal website or online portfolio to help you stand out.
  • Review strong examples of resumes and compare to see how yours can improve.
  • Ask a friend or mentor to review your resume and provide feedback.
  • Proofread for grammatical errors and spelling and check for dead links if you included any.
  • Be sure to target your resume to the job and/or company for which you are applying.
  1. Prepare a targeted cover letter
  • For each job, you’ll need to write a one-page dynamic cover letter, ideally addressed to a specific individual. Here are a few great examples for various industries.
  • Be sure to use specific examples and reference relevant accomplishments to convey what value you can bring to the potential employer and how you can meet their needs.
  • Demonstrate company knowledge by pointing to specific things you appreciate about the company and their work.
  • Proofread for grammatical errors and spelling, and ask a friend or mentor to review for feedback.
  • Include your contact information and request action (an interview) from the hiring manager.
  • Send your cover letter with your resume and any other necessary requirements for the application. Be sure to update your to-do list for individual jobs in Rake.
  1. Interview
  • Prepare for the interview by researching the company, including what they are doing well and what they could improve
  • Prepare for specific questions you will be asked, including common interview questions but also relevant to your industry and the role you’re applying for.
  • Prepare to ask good questions.
  • Be sure to review your notes from section 1: what you are looking for in an employer.
  • Practice with a friend or mentor, or even in a mirror.
  • If it’s a phone interview, be sure to have a calm, quiet place and set up 10 minutes prior. Check your connection and have your cover letter, resume and any notes ready.
  • If it’s an in-person interview, be sure to dress appropriately, look up directions so you plan to arrive early and gather what you’ll need to bring (copies of your cover letter, resume, your portfolio or any other relevant items).
  • During the interview, address the hiring manager by name, smile, make eye contact, have a firm handshake and show enthusiasm for the company and job.
  • Research salaries so you have a clear understanding for the field and be prepared to discuss your expectations. If necessary, prepare to negotiate.
  • Upon ending the interview, be sure to have a clear understanding of next steps: when you expect to hear about the job and what the timeline looks like.
  • Track your application in Rake and set follow up reminders for one week later (dependent on the timeline).
  1. Follow up
  • Send thank you letters to any one you met with or anyone who helped facilitate the interview.
  • Call or email the hiring manager a week later (dependent on the established timeline) if you haven’t heard anything to inquire about progress.
  • If you receive an offer, review thoroughly, negotiate if necessary, and send a written acceptance or declining letter (with an explanation if relevant).
  • Keep your network informed about your job search and follow up with anyone you have discussed potential leads with.
  • Keep track of all applications in Rake and if you don’t get the job, remove and keep saving new opportunities.

Finally, remember to set some time aside for yourself and enjoy the process. It’s easy to get stressed, so be sure to keep your check list updated in Rake so you don’t miss anything. You’re doing great, and the perfect job is just around the corner.