How to increase your chances of landing the job you want

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Trying to find a job in a climate where higher unemployment levels persist and consistent corporate cutbacks are being made can be a challenge. There is heavy competition in the job market, and applicants typically have to do a lot of hard work when hitting the pavement or spreading their wings in cyberspace to try to land that coveted position.

Increasing your chances of getting a job takes time, effort and hard work. It is important to take all of the routine actions necessary when job hunting. However, it also means applicants may need to step it up a bit more; it doesn't hurt to do a little thinking outside the proverbial box.

Networking

Networking has become increasingly important for the job search. It is a good idea to attend industry seminars, conferences, join online communities and see if you can discover other ways to connect with people. Volunteering in the community is another way to get your face out there and build your professional reputation. Since positions are sometimes scarce, it may become a matter of who you know rather than what you know.

Create a professional-looking resume

It goes without saying that a good resume is necessary to land a job. However, it is important to have a clean, professional-looking resume that is attractive to employers. Having a standardized resume is not the way to go, because each job may require specifications an applicant needs to highlight. This means a resume will probably need to be tweaked and customized for each job applied to. Also, if you've had your resume for a while, look to revamp its style to be sure it doesn't appear dated.

Attend job fairs

Another way to increase both the network component and widen job opportunities is to attend job fairs. Often, individual employers, labor departments or community efforts sponsor job fairs. It is a good idea to keep an eye out for any such events, and then be sure to attend looking your best.

Highlight accomplishments

When searching for a job, do not be shy about accomplishments. Some of the experiences or things you have done may be just the competitive edge you need that makes your resume stand out above the others. Include any accomplishments you may have under your belt, even if they may not be conventional; the skills or knowledge you have attained may be useful for landing a job. Do not forget to include any other attributes you possess, such as applicable volunteer experience or capabilities that demonstrate your "soft skills."

Be flexible

One mistake some job hunters make is to lock themselves into a particular type of job because it is within their comfort zone and is familiar. However, instead of falling into this mindset, think of other industries you can take your skills to. For instance, consider your accomplishments and see if you can't discover other types of jobs you are qualified to apply to.

It may be the industry or type of job you're searching for is saturated with applicants, but other jobs actually need to be filled. A good example would be for IT professionals – it isn't just tech companies that are offering the opportunities; there are many great IT jobs in the health care industry waiting to be filled. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, both the health care and tech industries are projected to grow at faster than average rates when compared with all industries.

Be personable

During the job search, it is important to be personable. This means not using a generic cover letter, cookie cutter resume and not remembering to send a thank you note if you have had personal interaction. Essentially, you do not want to be just another application. Try to make yourself stand out. Also, while you should never pester potential employers with repeated calls, when you do speak with them during follow-up calls, be personable, respectful and likable.

Show interest

Today's employers not only like, but expect, applicants to know about the organization prior to being interviewed. Years ago, this was an added nicety, but with the internet having everything at one's fingertips, job applicants are expected to have a basic understanding of what the organization does and a consensus of how it operates.

When having correspondence or interaction with a representative, be sure to ask questions and show interest. Employers want to feel as if their applicants are interested in the organization itself, not just desperate for a job. Just don't ask what the organization does – do that research ahead of time.

Getting a job in a market that is highly competitive is not the easiest task. However, putting strong effort and treating the job search as a full-time job will help you land the job you want.

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