Sometimes it's tempting to just throw yourself into a job search. Maybe you're not happy with your current job, or perhaps you happen upon an ad that strikes your fancy.

Before chasing a new position, however, it's important to be ready. Even if you're only casually searching, it still makes sense to get yourself prepared. Putting in a little work beforehand can help you avoid making mistakes. It can also increase your chances of being the person who makes it through the hiring gantlet.

Skip that extra effort, or decide to take care of things as you go along, and you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.

A person with a pen looks at a resume.

Getting your materials in order can make applying for jobs easier. Image source: Getty Images.

1. Clean up your social media

Anyone considering hiring you is probably going to do at least a casual check of your social media. They may start on LinkedIn to get a better picture of your professional life, but in many cases, they won't stop there.

Because of that, you need to sanitize your feeds. That means getting rid of the obvious -- no pictures of you chugging whiskey -- but also the more subtle. Recognize that sharing your political views may jeopardize your chances of being hired.

That may not be fair, but it's reality. Hiring managers may shy away from candidates they disagree with or those they believe may cause problems for the company.

2. Get your materials in order

Before you can apply for a job, you will need a resume and a cover letter. Not every position will ask for a cover letter, but have one ready for those that do.

In both cases, consider the versions of these documents you prepare as a starting point. You will want to tweak your resume for the specific job you're applying for, and your cover letter needs to specifically address the job.

Despite that, you will want someone to copy edit your base versions of these documents. Ideally, you will also have your resume checked by someone who has hiring experience in the field in which you are looking. Resume standards change, so you will want to make sure that what you send out is in the current style.

3. Mobilize your references

References may be one of the last steps before you get an offer, but they are a very important one. If you're even thinking about looking for a job, let your references know you plan to use them and make sure they're willing to be contacted.

Sometimes job offers are held up simply because someone won't answer a phone call from an unfamiliar number. If your references know the call is coming, then they are more likely to answer or return a call in a timely fashion.

It's also important to give each reference the choice to opt out. You don't want to put forward people who won't fully support you or who might not be available to return the call when it comes.

Preparation is key

A job search can be a marathon, and you wouldn't run a marathon without putting in the prep work. The steps above are simple, but they can greatly increase your chances of being hired. A small amount of work lets you hit the ground running.