Finding a job is easier said than done. While you may know to submit a professional résumé, write a thoughtful cover letter and practice before an interview, sometimes you still don't get the job.
While every job-search experience is different, it's helpful to hear from others who are in or have been in the same boat as you. Here, experts and past job seekers share some of their best advice for landing your dream role:
Practice makes perfect
"Be very careful how you answer questions in a job interview. You always want to be truthful, but it's best to practice your answers, as most websites suggest. I failed to do this prior to my first interview, and when I was asked what job I'd done that I was most proud of, I actually answered, 'Being a mother.' While this is true, it was definitely not the best answer I could have given and certainly not the one the interviewer was looking for. Do your homework on the companies you plan to interview with, and anticipate the kinds of questions they might ask. Come up with answers that will be both honest and impressive." -- Margaret Miller, writer and editor at The Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation
Don't let bad news get you down
"Don't listen to the doom and gloom that you hear in the news. People are getting jobs every day, and companies are growing, even in a down economy. I say this as a business owner, whose biggest challenge over the past year has been finding quality help. I have also seen it with other local business owners who are looking to hire. I believe that people get an idea that there are no jobs because of all the negativity they hear about the job numbers in the media, so they buy into that and give up, while others go for it and find great jobs, regardless of the economic indicators." -- Anthony Kirlew, founder and CEO of AKA Internet Marketing
Find what makes you passionate
"If you don't focus your job search on something you are passionate about, you won't stand out enough. Your networking, your résumé and your interviews all have to show a spark to get attention, especially in a tight economy. The good news is it's a great time to tap into what you love and then match that to the job market. It's possible and essential." -- Val Nelson, career and business coach
Show how you add value
"Figure out what value you can provide. Your credentials and your past are nice but secondary. I am glad you think you are great, but it's of little consequence to me. Convince me that my future is better with you than without you. Value, value, value -- that's where it is at. Once you know the value you provide, make it clear in your résumé, cover letter and interview." -- Ann Latham, president of consulting and business-services company Uncommon Clarity
Network, network, network
"Network with all kinds of people for useful market information, not just information about specific job openings or companies that are known to be hiring. Learn about the larger world and environment." --Tammy Gooler Loeb, career and executive coach at Tammy Gooler Loeb Coaching & Consulting
"Positivity and persistence are key. Stay optimistic throughout the process and keep going until you achieve your goal." -- Lynda Zugec, managing director of The Workforce Consultants
Stand out from the crowd
"Every candidate is punctual, responsible and gets on well with people. To avoid blending in with the crowd, highlight unique elements of your personal brand. For example, a candidate listed an around-the-world trip she took in college as an educational experience. When we read that, we had to hear the story, so she got an interview and eventually a job. Don't skip or gloss over the cover letter. This is your opportunity to make a personal impression and connection. A résumé is just a list of facts about you, but the cover letter gives a hiring agent insight into your personality. We hire people, not résumés.
"Salespeople learn to translate features into benefits. When you are trying to sell yourself, you should do the same. A feature is a fact about you -- experience, skills, education, etc. A benefit is why we should care. This requires some thought and customization of your résumé to each position you seek, but it is worth the effort. Casting a wide net by sending hundreds of generic résumés is largely wasted time. Instead, target a few positions for which you are well-suited at companies you admire. Customize and plan your approach. Connect to people who already work where you want to work through social media like LinkedIn, attend networking events for the industry and leverage your personal connections. Even a small connection can often get you past the first paper cut or get your résumé the second glance it deserves." -- Matt Meuleners, executive partner at professional training and coaching company FOCUS Training
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