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10 Strategies for Today's Job Seekers

10 Strategies for Today's Job Seekers

With an endless sea of candidates looking for the next great job, networking is more important than ever to finding the best employment opportunities available. Job-advice guru Marissa Marsala, who writes the blog "Career Advice: Getting/Keeping a Job," shares ideas that can dramatically improve your chances of landing great employment:

Get Linked In: These days, recruiters are saying over and over, "If you're not on LinkedIn, you don't exist." LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site that allows you to find connections that can help with your job hunt, or to discuss other similar interests. Be sure to complete your profile as most recruiters go to LinkedIn first. Make your profile compelling and free of typos.

Join Groups. Some sites such as LinkedIn have forums or groups that are highly targeted, and which may contain laser-focused jobs that are posted by employers, search firms or others. A little known fact is that in addition to industry specific groups, many of the HR groups are not just for HR professionals. In fact, some of them, such as "Linked: HR" in LinkedIn contain subgroups that offer up to 25 pages of jobs across various industries. The fact that some of the jobs on groups have limited exposure can dramatically increase your odds of getting interviewed.

Put your Face on Facebook. In your Facebook status update bar, indicate to family, friends and others that you have instituted a job search, and specify the type(s) of job/job title(s) that you are seeking, the industries you are targeting, and your geographic preferences.

On your mark, get set, ... "Tweet!" Particularly if a job opening is high tech or Internet-related in nature, more and more, employers and search firms are leveraging Twitter "Tweets" to target and engage web-savvy candidates.

Develop a target company and industry list. Show this list to members of your network to determine if they might know employees in those companies or industries, with whom you could spend 20 minutes to gain the benefit of their insights. NEVER ask for a job directly when you use this approach. Rather, use these connections as a springboard to fuel discussions, establish your credibility and ideally, you will be referred to others.

Create and Practice your Elevator Pitches. Be sure that you have developed and fine-tuned a 30-to-40-second branding statement that will allow you to readily explain who you are and how your skills add value and help different businesses. It should be conversational in tone, so that it sounds natural as you communicate it. Most pitches are one to three sentences. If crafted correctly, they will be compelling enough to have others probe further.

Don't be shy - self-promote. Leverage opportunities to let others know that you are actively exploring opportunities. Do so cautiously, so as not to come across sounding desperate or non-selective. Indicate to others that you are "in-between jobs" if you have been laid off or are about to be, and let others know in a matter-of-fact, confident manner that you are beginning to explore your options, and are in the midst of a job search. Also, make it clear that you are taking a thoughtful and systematic approach and finding the right job is very important to you.

Leave no stone unturned: Anyone can be a potential lead. You never know who knows others, and who can make connections and introductions. Don't discount friends and family. In fact, discussing your goals at family functions and social and business events helps others to be ambassadors for you in terms of furthering your networking reach. Most job seekers will find that the vast majority of people want to help, and many of them have been in your shoes, which makes them more likely to assist.

Use resume real estate effectively. It is estimated that those who manually review resumes only spend a staggering 13 to 17 seconds before deciding if you are or are not qualified. You, therefore, need to make the most compelling case in the upper third of page one of your resume. I refer to this as top loading a resume or making your resume "top heavy." I strongly recommend considering the following sections: a branding statement that is a headline that describes in two to eight words who you are professionally. Having such a headline over your summary of experience is a far better use of space than labeling that section, "Summary of Experience." (Note: Use a Summary of Experience in lieu of a "Career Objective." Why? A career objective is "me" focused, while a summary of experience is "them" focused. Employers want to know what you can do for THEM.)

Make Keywords Key. In addition to assisting even novice resume reviewers to conclude that you are someone worth pursuing, more and more companies are beginning to use resume parsing or other software to identify candidates who are best suited to the job. Some postings even contain the list of keywords in the body of the posting! Provided that you can back it up, and have such experience, be certain that they keywords that are essential in the jobs you are pursuing are contained in your resume.

The greatest challenge today is overcoming a saturated job-seeker market. To do this, you must optimize your resume and effectively leverage the Internet to influence those in hiring capacities to sit up and take notice.

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