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10 must-do tips for job seekers

Alina Dizik, special to Careerbuilder

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As a job seeker, finding the right position can often be a frustrating experience. But there are ways to make your search a little bit easier.

Here are 10 tips from career experts to simplify your job search:

1. Learn how to get past the generic HR inbox

Typically e-mailing your résumé human resources or filling out an online application means it will get short shrift once opened on the other end. Most of the time it's being pre-screened by a software program for keywords that correspond with the job requirements. "People need to understand what an applicant tracking system is, what it looks for and how to maximize the odds that your résumé will pass through the [system], and move on to human eyeballs," explains Jenny Foss, a career expert who blogs at jobjenny.com.

2. Don't stress over the résumé

If you have a limited amount of time don't spend it all at your computer crafting a cover letter or preparing your résumé. "Cover letters and résumés come a distant third or fourth [as the most important part of] your job search -- never rely solely on them," says Rich Gee, an executive coach. Instead, Gee suggests using the time to make connections at your dream company even if there are no openings. "[Target] a company because you would kill to work there -- not because it has open positions," he says.

3. Create a job search game plan

Just because you're looking for a job doesn't mean you need to apply to every position that comes your way. Instead, take the time to think through a specific plan for how you're going to land your next gig, Foss suggests. "Create an overall strategy, and then break it down into tactical efforts. Schedule your week, your days, your hours and know what you are going to do every day, before you get in front of the computer and surf aimlessly for eight hours," she says.

4. Conduct research before each interview

Even if you've had a dozen interviews in the past three months doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare for the next one. Always take the time to understand the company -- beyond just looking at the website. Also, meet with people who have held similar roles or work at the firm. Knowing about the firm and the position can help you be less stressed during the interview.

5. Accept tea or water

Ward off nervousness by using this interview trick: "At the beginning of the interview, if the interviewer asks if you want water, tea, etc., always say yes," explains Alesia Benedict, chief executive of GetInterviews.com. "It serves as a great prop if you need to stall a moment and gather your thoughts before responding to a question." Use it when the interviewer presents tricky questions that you'd like to take a few seconds to think about.

6. Pay attention to the details

Anything from misspelling the interviewer's name in a post-interview thank you note, to coming in a few minutes late for an interview can cost you a job. To avoid mishaps, be sure to give extra attention to all of your dealings with potential employers.

7. Tap into your alumni network

With many universities having well-maintained alumni networks, contact your alumni club for an up-to-date directory. Use the directory to find people who can help you land your next job. Many of them are eager to help fellow alums because of loyalty to the school.

8. Keep e-mails formal

Even if you're simply confirming the meeting time to your interview, it's important to put your best foot forward, Benedict says. Skip terms written in shorthand like "thanx" or "2morrow" which come off as unprofessional. "Your e-mail messages should be as clean and polished as a cover letter would be," she says.

9. Include a zip code on your résumé

If you're looking for a job in your area, it's a good idea to leave your zip code in your address (even if it doesn't seem necessary at the time). "Recruiters often give preference to candidates who are local and will do a search on zip codes in the résumé databases to find candidates," Benedict says.

10. Be truthful

It can be temping to appear like you have far more expertise, especially if you're just starting out, but exaggerating your experience will likely backfire. Employers are looking for trustworthy individuals and are unlikely to hire someone who they have a hunch isn't being totally truthful.

Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.




Last Updated: 18/04/2011 - 3:43 PM


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