Top 10 list: Tips for successful job searches

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The job market has become tougher over the last couple of years, forcing applicants to work harder to seek out those golden opportunities.

A successful job search often depends on who you know, which means candidates need to make sure their efforts are as far-reaching as possible. Below are 10 essential tactics to gaining an edge during a job search.

Step outside your comfort zone: Avoid limiting your search to your current industry or field. Identify your transferable skills and experiences, and communicate them to prospective employers.

Minimize work history gaps: If you are unable to find a position right away, consider temporary assignments, internships and part-time opportunities, all of which can potentially lead to a full-time role.

Be flexible: Remain open to all possibilities, even if the job title, salary, and benefits are not exactly what you hoped for. Once you get your foot in the door, you will have a chance to prove yourself.

Find jobs before they're advertised: Read your local business journals and newspapers to identify companies that are hiring or expanding, and send them your résumé.

Cast a wide 'net': General employment boards can be useful, but don't forget industry and trade association Web sites, which may have more targeted career opportunities.

Network – online and off: Tell everyone you know that you are looking for a job, whether in person or using professional networking websites.

Manage your digital footprint: Think your friends are the only people who viewed those less-than-professional holiday photos you posted online? Think again. With a few mouse clicks, potential employers can dig up information about you on blogs, personal Web sites, and personal networking site profiles. Make sure you do a thorough self-search and take any necessary corrective action.

Customize: Tailor your résumé and cover letter for each opportunity. Employers want to see why you're the right person for their job.

Enhance your marketability: Find out what skills are most in demand and take steps to give yourself an edge in these areas. Focus on sharpening both functional and interpersonal skills.

Meet with a recruiter: Staffing executives can be your eyes and ears in the job market. Recruiters also provide useful feedback on your résumé and interview skills, and help you locate full-time and temporary jobs.

About the author:

Max Messmer is chairman and CEO of Robert Half International and author of Job Hunting for Dummies.

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