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10 Ways To Be Competitive In Your Job Search
by Robin Eads

With recent unemployment and layoff numbers, it seems there aren't enough jobs to go around for all of those looking for work. There are things that you can do to improve your odds when competing for a job opportunity; no matter what that job may be. Take these steps to ensure you remain a "top candidate" for consideration during these tough and competitive times.

1. Revamp your resume.
If you've sent out countless resumes to open positions and received lackluster response, your resume may be the reason. It's important to make sure you are using current industry "buzz words" to get their attention. Additionally, your resume may be too long, or even too short! Check out these tips on how to get your resume into optimal shape.

2.Network, Network, Network!
More than ever, people are flocking to online social networking sites to broaden their network of potential opportunities. Professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and A Place 4 People allow you to present your professional profile (aka social resume), view open jobs and network with millions of people all across the country all on one site. Additionally, these sites contain thousands of special interest groups that you can join to increase your chances of connecting with the right person for your next opportunity.

3. Find a good recruiter, or 3!
Recruiters can be a great source for job opportunities that may not be available through other sources. If you've never worked with a recruiter before, ask for a recommendation from people that you trust. Social networking sites can also be a great source for finding a recommended recruiter. Trust your gut when it comes to recruiters; if you feel they aren't working in your best interest, then move on! It is perfectly acceptable to work with multiple recruiters, so long as you keep track of the opportunities they present you for. Employers often work with many recruiters; make sure you know what employer/company your recruiters are presenting your resume to so that you avoid duplicate submissions.

4. Follow up
Once you've sent your resume to a potential employer, follow up within 24 hours if you can. Follow up by phone is optimal, with email being a second choice. Make sure the resume has been received and ask for an idea of when they expect to be scheduling interviews and/or moving forward with hiring. This gives you a timeline to follow up again if you don't hear anything.

5. Duplicate submissions will not increase your odds
Applying for the same position over and over again will not increase your odds of getting the job. In fact, it's likely to have the opposite effect. This is the equivalent of "resume spam". Apply only once, then follow up. If you see the same position listed again at a later time with a different job number, follow up with the employer to make sure they still have your resume on file. If it's been 6 months or less, they likely don't need to see your resume again. Let them know you'd like to still be considered.

6. Post interview, follow up!
If you've interviewed for an opportunity with an employer or recruiter, make sure to send a personalized thank you (email is best). Make sure the email is concise; less is more! You don't need to summarize your abilities or rehash why you are a fit for the job; just thank them for their time and consideration and let them know you look forward to their feedback.

7. Treat your job search like a full time job
If you are unemployed, your best approach to finding employment is treating your job search like your full time job. With all the resources out there to locate employment, it's likely to take you 40 hours per week to cycle through all of them. Are you simply sending out resumes, or are you being more proactive? Job searching is akin to sales, only you are selling yourself instead of a product. Using the internet is a great way to find a job, but it isn't the only way! Get yourself out there. Apply for jobs in person if you can! Make sure you are equipped with plenty of resumes, as well as a flash drive or CD's with the latest copy of your resume.

8. Don't apply for positions you aren't qualified for
While you may be tempted to apply for that Rocket Scientist position in a "hail mary" attempt at employment, this does not work in your favor. Applying for positions for which you are under-qualified makes it appear that you aren't paying attention to the qualifications required; it's a time waster for everyone. If an employer has multiple positions open, don't apply for all of them. Apply only to those that meet your qualifications. This is not to say that you shouldn't apply for opportunities for which you overqualified. However, when applying for such opportunities it's best to include a cover letter specifying why you'd like to be considered even though you may be overqualified.

9. Continued Education
Even if you are currently employed, this is a great strategy for future opportunities. Make sure you are keeping up to date on current skills in your field. If you are unemployed, now is the best time to go back to school! Many grants and other types of assistance are available through the federal government for this purpose. So get that certification, complete your degree or take a course relevant to your field. The more educated you are, the more attractive you will be to potential employers.

10. Be prepared for the call!
When you do get that call for an interview, be prepared! Don't accept calls from potential employers when you are distracted or otherwise unprepared. Subways, crowded shopping malls and sporting events aren't the place to take that call if you want to be taken seriously. Let the call go to voice mail, then return the call when you can give them your full attention. As an add-on to this, make sure the voice mail greeting they reach is professional; blaring music, greetings recorded by children, et al are inappropriate. When you return the call, you should be in a quiet setting where you aren't likely to be distracted or interrupted. Be professional, speak clearly and make sure to thank them for their time!

Published: Nov 18,2008 15:48
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