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Tips for Effective Job Searching

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I got an email the other day from someone who said that he had posted his resume on several different job sites and hadn't heard from any employers yet. He asked what he should do to make his resume stand out.

Consider the Competition

My first thought was that his lack of contact probably didn't have much to do with what his resume looked like. Rather, it had more to do with the number of resumes posted online and the job searching competition, which is fierce, for every job opening. Monster, for example, has a database of over 40 million resumes. CareerBuilder has more than 10 million resumes on file. In addition, employers have to pay to search for resumes. It can be expensive and that's an awful lot of resumes to try and narrow down.

It's often easier for an employer to post a job and wait for the applications to come rolling in. Employers that I've spoken to say that they typically get hundreds of applications for every position they list, so, even then, job seekers are up against a lot of competition.

Be Proactive

Susan Heathfield, About.com's Guide to Human Resources says, "Candidates need to take a proactive approach to job searching. Putting your resume online and expecting employers to pay fees to search all of the different job searching sites available won't land you a job. Employers are faced with too many options these days and all of the online sites are trying to make money. Whether it's an online site such as Monster or CareerBuilder or a web site associated with the employer's local newspaper classified ads, online posting and searching is expensive for the employer. You'll increase your chances of finding your dream job by making finding you as easy as possible for the employer."

Expand Your Job Search

What's a job seeker to do then? Don't let the competition scare you aware, but, don't limit yourself to posting your resume or only applying to jobs you find on the major job sites. You need to expand your efforts and utilize every available resource.

Use the Niche Sites

Search the niche job sites in your field(s) of interest. There are sites for just about every industry and profession you can imagine. Search the local job sites. There are many sites that cover only a specific geographic area. Chamber of Commerce sites often are a good source of local job listings and they often don't get much traffic so there may not be as much competition. Several people I know have found jobs through our local Chamber of Commerce site and they typically received calls to interview very soon after applying. Check the newspaper Help Wanted ads too. Some employers still only use the classifieds to advertise job openings.

Research Employers

Research employers to find companies that you might want to work for. Then visit the employment section of their web site. Many employers post job openings and accept applications online. Check back frequently so you can get your resume in just as soon as new openings are posted.

Set Up Job Search Agents

Speaking of checking, be proactive and set up job search agents on all the sites you visit. That way you will receive the latest openings as soon as they are listed. Don't stop there. Go online and search the job sites daily. The search agents may not send you every listing and you want to be among the first to get your resume into the hopper - for every potential job.

Use Career Services

If you're a college graduate, ask the Career Services office at your alma mater if they participate with a job site. If they do, you will find job listings specifically targeted to grads from your school. Also ask if they have alumni you can network with. Many schools have a network of alumni who are willing to help. And keep networking! Tell everyone you know you are looking for work. You never know who might be able to provide a lead that will get you an interview. Remember that you are more likely to get an interview if you are referred by someone who has an "in" at an prospective employer.

Review Your Resume

By the way, to answer the original question, yes, your resume does have to be perfect. There shouldn't be any typos and your experience, qualifications and skills should be carefully documented in your resume and your cover letters. Don't stop there though... make sure you cover all the bases so you can at least keep up with the competition and, hopefully, leave them in the dust!

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