Job Expert Q&A: Top 10 Job Hunting Tips

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Searching for a job in 2010? Be glad, says editor Scott Steinberg. “Courtesy of the Web, social networks and online services, all the tools you need to find full- and part-time work, or start a promising new career, are right there at your fingertips,” he says. As a supplement to our online job hunting guide and rundown of vital career building strategies, we asked him to compile a list of ten job hunting tips that every serious professional should know. Following are his essential strategies for boosting your career or landing the job of your dreams:

1. Customize Your Resume

“One size fits nobody – you should always custom-tailor your resume to each different employer and position,” Steinberg insists. He also suggests looking for keywords (common terms recruiters might enter into computerized searches, such as “sales associate” or “senior engineer”) in job descriptions. Once identified, he says, work both these phrases and common alternatives into the document, and early on within it at that. Still, however you adjust it, your CV should also read naturally and be brief and to the point (think two pages max), while an individualized cover letter is imperative as well.

2. Focus Your Job Search

While large job search engines like Monster and CareerBuilder.com can be effective, you’re often better off using more targeted services focused on specific industries, salary ranges or regions, Steinberg says. Also worth noting, he claims: “It pays to concentrate on the 5-15 companies you’d most prefer to work for rather than employing a shotgun approach.” He recommends signing up for email newsletters, participating in online company forums or attempting to contact current employees for informational interviews, among other strategies. The thinking being that you won’t just do a better job by emphasizing quality over quantity – you’ll also maximize chances of being noticed.

continuing-ed3. Invest in Continuing Education

Best practices and technology standards change rapidly, according to Steinberg, making it imperative that you always stay abreast of the latest developments, whether currently employed on no. “Keeping your skills up-to-date and polished makes you more valuable to your employer, and shows an aptitude and willingness to change,” he says. This sort of flexibility is going to be even more important going forward, Steinberg claims, as a flooded marketplace comes under further pressure from an onslaught of new, newly unemployed and/or international workers also vying for a limited pool of positions.

4. Leverage Social Networks

Using social networks such as LinkedIn, Plaxo and Facebook, it pays to create a professional looking profile and source recommendations from friends and colleagues. Afterwards, says Steinberg, it’s important to actively set about connecting with peers, potential mentors and prospective employers and let them know you’re searching for work, especially since they’re literally all just a click away. “With upwards of eight in ten job opportunities going unadvertised these days, you really are who you know,” he asserts.

5. Control Your Online Image

As mentioned, leveraging social networks (and personal blogs and web pages) to build an attractive portfolio and connect with other professionals is imperative for job seekers in 2010. But just as vital, Steinberg says, is keeping your online image clean, which means avoiding posting controversial or inflammatory statements and pictures from office parties or your wilder days in college. “Human resources managers aren’t stupid – they know how to use search engines,” he explains. “As such, the image you project across the board, and I mean throughout the entire Internet, should be strictly business.”

6. Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

It’s imperative that you be able to sum yourself (including achievements and career goals) up in 30 seconds in order to get employers’ attention, Steinberg says. At the pace the professional world moves in 2010, “people tend to sum others up at a glance,” he admits, making it crucial you pique their interest quickly, or risk being immediately discounted. “State your case simply and clearly up-front,” he advises, which will ultimately improve your chances of getting in the door for a longer, more in-depth discussion during formal interviews.

7. Never Clock Out

Serious about getting hired? Instead of watching TV or going to the movies in your spare time, consider occupying yourself by taking on a project that offers the opportunity for you to showcase your career skills, learn new talents or give back to the professional community. Steinberg says that blogs; webcam videos; podcasts; bylined articles; self-published books/CDs/DVDs; forum posts; newsletters; and time spent volunteering for professional organizations and non-profits can all do just as much, if not more, for your career than actual on-the-job performance. Not only do these ventures help to prove you’re someone who’s willing to go above and Job Huntingbeyond the call of duty when it comes to career development and growth. “It also shows passion and dedication, speaks to one’s work ethic and helps establish your credentials as a subject matter expert,” claims Steinberg.

8. Raise Your Virtual Profile

Now that you’re busy making things happen professionally, Steinberg suggests, be sure to let people know, with visibility just as important as actual output. (“There’s a lot of white noise out there,” he says, “meaning that those prospective employers tend to call on most are the few individuals who consistently manage to stay top of mind.”) Thankfully, he says, from online forum posts and social network updates to notes on Twitter, pro bono press releases, and free stories written for leading industry publications in exchange for a published link or personal bio, there are plenty of ways to get the word out.

9. Make Continued Outreach

“Don’t be ashamed to let people know that you’re on the job hunt,” says Steinberg, who also recommends making outreach via your network of contacts on a consistent basis. It’s important to be persistent as well, he counsels, but also be respectful of other parties’ time, and beware of crossing the fine line into annoyance. Remember, however: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Thankfully, just by regularly blogging, posting links to discussions or projects you’ve been working on, participating in social networks and otherwise staying active in the online community, you’ll stay on associates’ computer screens, and therefore radar, as a result.

10. Don’t Hesitate to Stand Out

“The best career advice anyone can ever give you is simple: If you discover a particular area that fascinates you or problem that needs solving, don’t hesitate to speak up,” Steinberg chuckles. Just by sharing your views, actually making the time to address important industry needs or taking up a particular cause, he says, you’ll be doing more than the vast majority of professionals, who believe it’s safer to keep quiet, lay low and minimize risk. While some may feel that it’s not worth the bother to stand up and do what needs to be done, that’s exactly the reason you should, he insists. “Even if you fail, you’ll learn lessons from the effort that are directly applicable to career growth, and show you’ve got the moxie, leadership skills and initiative to tackle issues head on. That said, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it…”

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