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Smart Job Searching: Focus, Plan, Persevere

How many more jobs and careers do you expect to hold until you retire? If you are like most people in the fast-forward, technology driven, highly competitive global economy, the correct answer is "Quite a few!" Job search savvy is critical in this age of rapidly shifting jobs. Here are a few tips to help you effectively manage the inevitable.

Ready, Aim, Focus! When I see people floundering in a job search, it's because they aren't focused. Failing to commit to a readily understood job title, or two, or three is a big mistake. If you actually do have three distinct, viable career options, then you'll need to have three targeted resumes. Each one should focus on the marketable skills, experience, and credentials that support the requirements of the desired position. Why is focus so important? In the clogged communications of corporate America, you must have a tightly focused approach to cut through the clutter. No one has the time to read an objective statement like this: "To acquire a position that utilizes my experience and education, that offers opportunity for advancement, yada, yada, yada." How about "A mid-level marketing position" or "A telecommunications sales position" or whatever your objective du jour might be. Recruiters and hiring managers are begging, "Just be specific!" Don't worry, you won't 'limit yourself' to anything other than the type of position you really want. And you're only committing to this title for the moment, not for the rest of your career.

Draft a Plan: Once you've figured out what you want to do, you have to figure out your plan of attack. How long is your job search going to take? A conservative estimate is one month of full-time searching for each $10,000 in salary you're seeking. How much activity constitutes a full-time job search? For most people, it's contacting 30-40 companies per week, as well as following up with everyone you've spoken to the week before. Contacting large numbers of people is the best way I know to generate sufficient momentum in your job search. The idea is to have 5-8 irons in the fire, actively interviewing with several companies so that you'll be more likely to have two or three offers on the table at any given time.

A few do's and don'ts about finding leads: Newspaper Classified Ads: Everyone knows (or should know) that the classified ads, as a whole, represent the bottom 10% of the employment barrel, and what's worse, the competition for these low-end jobs is high. Then there is the psychological effect of believing everything you read: the job descriptions and salaries quoted can lead to a really negatively skewed impression of what's available to you. If you let it become your reality, you're doomed to a lifetime of underemployment. The truth is, no one can say with any degree of certainty.

Internet-based Job Searches:

Rest assured that the factors of competition and clogged communications are even greater in cyberspace than they are in the world of snail mail. The average Fortune 1000 firm gets thousands of electronically submitted resumes a day. Do they read each one? Ha! Do they put them in a database? Maybe. Do electronically submitted resumes and letters eventually reach the consciousness and consideration of a human being? Highly unlikely. Yet many job seekers spend an inordinate amount of their precious job search time and energy in an Internet-based job search. Then they get depressed because they get little to no response.

The Shotgun Approach: Another type of job search that simply isn't worth the money and effort is sending out thousands of resumes by mail or even by e-mail. Think of how watered down your resume and cover letter will have to be for this type of search. .This is at best, a passive approach - distributing resumes and letters into the universe is simply not enough. Unless you are talking to people before, during, and after getting your credentials across in writing, you're wasting your time.

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