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Successfully Honing Your Job Search Skills

Okay, you’ve been out of work for months, your resources are running out, and you need to find something soon or that long held dream of living on the street may become a reality. Obviously, the approach you’ve been using hasn’t worked. So what can you do to change your luck and convince an employer that they cannot live without you?

Searching for a job is a talent all in itself. You have to know what you are looking for and present yourself appropriately. Don’t fall into the same bad habits that keep other people unemployed for long periods.

When this author was unemployed, I fell into the trap of trying to send out a certain number of applications per day, figuring if I had enough irons in the fire, one of them was bound to turn into something good. Wrong. What you are actually doing is wasting valuable time. Narrow your job search to what you are interested in or best qualified for and then tailor your resume to suit the position described. I searched for months without so much as a nibble, but when I narrowed my search down to writing jobs, I had a job offer inside of two weeks. Know what you are looking for and go after it.

Don’t be lazy. The internet makes it very easy to just lay around all day filling out online applications. Get off the couch, shower, put on some nice clothes, and get out there and meet people. It’s called networking. You never know where your next job is coming from, and sometimes you have to go out of your way to be in the right place at the right time.

Speaking of networking, do it right. Stopping in and shooting the breeze with your friend who sells cars at the local Chevy dealer doesn’t qualify. Put yourself in situations where you can actually meet the decision makers. The more people you know, the better your chance at getting a job. I had the owner of a local car dealer/collision care center friend me on Facebook. I didn’t know the guy, but I did take the time to stop by and introduce myself in person. I’m thinking this might be a very good contact if the job I have should for some reason dry up.

Don’t skimp on the cover letter. Again, from personal experience, it is far easier to fill out an application and hit submit without worrying about a cover letter, when all you’re actually doing is shooting yourself in the foot. A well written cover letter can make you stand out in the crowd and can only help your resume to actually get read.

Rehearse your interviews. While you cannot anticipate every question that will be pitched at you, you do know the obvious ones, so take the time, maybe in front of a mirror, to practice your responses. Nothing ruins your chances more than a lot of hemming and hawing, um’s and uh’s. Speak with assurance and poise.

Know the company you are interviewing with. The existence of the internet means that there is no excuse whatsoever for not knowing something about the company you are interviewing for. Going in without this particular nugget of information is setting you up for a failure of Biblical proportions.

Be honest, but discriminating. It is possible, and sometimes preferable, to have an unexpressed thought. Resist the urge to badmouth your previous employer or situation. Keep everything positive. This will create a better impression as opposed to labeling you as a troublemaker or boat rocker.

Monitor your internet presence. If you’re applying for an executive position and there are pictures online of you with a dead child or a live goat, you have to assume that they are going to catch up with you. Make sure your internet and social networking presence is something you are proud of.

Know how to follow up. There is nothing wrong with showing interest, but don’t make a pest of yourself. If the employer sees you as the second coming of Bill Murray in What About Bob? You can effectively kiss the opportunity bye bye. Send a thank you note (one that is actually written, I know, what a concept, right?) and follow up with a phone call in three or four days.

It is possible to get a job even in this lousy economy. Just make sure you cross your t’s and dot your I’s, and put your best foot forward without tripping over it.

Now go therefore and succeed….

Billy D. Ritchie – Director Of Content – Leadsbyfone, LLC – My Blog