A little proactivity can make all the difference.

When the need for a job search hits, time is of the essence. Suddenly, you find yourself in a rush of research, writing and connecting, and every day you spend doing these tasks is a day spent either unhappy at your current job or unemployed. If only you were able to prepare for this in advance!

The good news is, you can. While you may not be able to anticipate when a job search will come around, there are a number of things you can do every day to make sure that when the time does come, you're ready with the tools you need. While you're working happily, consider tackling these seven tasks that will set you up for a shorter, more efficient job search.

1. Update your CV

You may see your CV exclusively as a job-search tool, but that doesn't mean it should collect dust until the moment it's needed. Every now and then, take a look at your CV and update it to reflect your most recent projects and accomplishments. That way, you don't have to spend much time rewriting and researching when you eventually start your hunt.

If you really don't feel up to regularly updating your CV, at least create a brag book to help you keep track of your career accomplishments.

2. Get familiar with the ATS

Did you know that nearly 98 per cent of large organisations rely on computer software to speed up the hiring process? Applicant tracking systems (ATS) parse submitted CVs and eliminate those applicants who appear least qualified. It sounds harsh, but thankfully, there are strategies for passing through these digital gatekeepers.

Take some time to read up on the ATS using resources like this one from our own careers expert, Amanda Augustine. Learning about proper file formats and the importance of keywords will prepare you to craft a CV ready to beat the hiring bots. After you've done your prep work, you can use these tips to find out if your CV really is ATS-compatible.

3. Get a CV review

When drafting your application materials, objective feedback is invaluable. Of course, you can turn to your friends and family for help, but why not take it a step further and seek out professional advice? With a free critique from TopCV, you'll learn about the strengths and weaknesses of your document and receive guidance about potential improvements.

Learn more about the benefits of a professional CV review or submit yours for evaluation. By doing so, you won't have to go through multiple drafts during your job search, helping you spend less time writing and more time applying.

4. Build up your skill set

Your skill set is the foundation of your candidacy, so it's essential that you are proficient in as many relevant areas as possible. When a company puts out an advert, you want to tick all of their boxes to show you are exactly the professional they are looking for. To ensure you can do this, build up your skill set by taking courses online through Coursera or The Open University. When it comes time to begin your job search, you'll be thankful you have more to add to your CV.

5. Clean up your online presence

Research by TopCV partner CV-Library revealed that one-third of recruiters admit to regularly 'stalking' candidates online to gauge their employability. That means that your online presence needs to be as polished as your CV.

While you have the luxury of time, look through your social media profiles, particularly those on less formal platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and check for the way they present you. If a stranger were to see them, what impression would they get about your character, judgment and priorities? Googling yourself and evaluating the results is a good place to start.

6. Renovate your LinkedIn profile

An HR manager may check as many of your online profiles as they can find, but your LinkedIn will likely be their primary focus. As your hub for professional activity, it's essential that your profile is up to date and comprehensive. This means carefully shaping each element, from choosing the perfect photo to writing up a unique summary that outlines your passions and areas of expertise.

Taking care of this renovation project now means you won't have to worry yourself over it come job-search time. As you begin, take a look at this guide to creating a complete and effective profile.

7. Network

References, informational interviews and more: A vast, reliable network can be a job seeker's greatest tool. However, relationships take time to develop – so you can't wait until your job search begins to start building them. Attend industry events, engage with professionals on LinkedIn and keep in touch with old colleagues to construct your fortress of connections. Then, they'll be there to help you through your search ‒ and maybe get you your next role.

The moral of the story: be prepared

A shorter job search is all about being prepared. When you put in the work in advance ‒ from researching CV best practices to building your skill set ‒ you will be primed and ready when the time for searching finally comes. And with less time dedicated to polishing profiles and more time for submitting applications, your odds of grabbing an HR manager's attention will skyrocket. Suddenly, your new job isn't so far off after all!

Start your job-search prep with feedback on your CV. Submit for a free CV critique today.

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