5 Things You Need to Do to Get a Job

Make it clear to potential employers how your qualifications align with the company's needs.

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Two construction workers sat down to lunch. Worker #1 took out his turkey sandwich and eagerly started eating. Worker #2 tentatively opened his first sandwich. Examining it, he exclaimed, “Yuck, peanut butter,” and tossed it aside. Reaching in for his second sandwich, he opened it, and carefully peeled open the bread to examine the contents. “Yuck, peanut butter again!” he cried, with a dismayed look. Worker #1 asked, “Why don’t you tell your wife you don’t like peanut butter?” “Wife?” worker #2 asked, “I packed this lunch myself!”

Many job seekers behave a lot like Worker #2. They create their own discomfort by resisting change and insisting on continuing to job search in the exact same ways they always have, even when they know they don’t like the results. You don’t like peanut butter—or the lack of job offers? Make some changes, because it’s all in your hands!

[See The 50 Best Careers for 2011.]

Decide where you want to go next. You have nothing to gain by looking for a job you don’t even want. Identify your goals. You can’t get anywhere until you decide your destination! What characteristics and traits make you special? What are you (or do you hope to be) known for in your field?

Review trends and industries with career potential and determine if there are matches between your skills and interests and those fields. Instead of cursing a business with a shrinking job market, re-adjust, re-tool, and re-train to take advantage of new possibilities.

Once you know your direction, optimize your resume. If you don’t target your job search materials, you are wasting opportunities to impress potential employers. Read the job description and spend time matching your skills and experiences to the employer’s needs. Make it clear why and how your qualifications are in line with the organization’s needs.

[See What the American Jobs Act Means for You.]

Position yourself as an expert. Use all of the tools at your disposal to illustrate your skills and expertise. If you haven’t looked for a job in a while and/or aren’t tuned in to managing your “digital footprint,” it’s time for a quick lesson in social media. Presenting yourself well both online and in person will help open previously closed doors. Optimize Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, blogs, and other social networking tools to make connections and share information.

Don’t just create profiles and forget about them. Actively manage your online reputation to help convince anyone who Googles your name that you really know your stuff. If you are applying for jobs as an accountant, use your Twitter feed to showcase what you read about relating to your field. You want a job in marketing? You not only need to show you know your industry, you need to demonstrate social proof—by using the social media tools at your disposal, you prove your skills.

The key to a successful job hunt is to network generously. There is nothing more important or more useful. Your success depends on your ability to broaden your professional circles and to reach out to a diverse socio-economic group of people. Professionals who habitually facilitate introductions earn goodwill and reputations as valuable resources and colleagues. Become that professional; it will help you overcome obstacles to career success.

[See Job Outlook Improving for the Class of 2012.]

Communicate your value. Your ability to promote, communicate, and connect your value to colleagues and superiors is crucial. Hone this “soft” skill—practice your writing, emailing, speaking, interviewing, and presenting skills. Join Toastmasters. Make a point to learn how to communicate well. When you can articulate why your role is vital, you will help secure your future.

When you take steps to help yourself and resist scapegoating the economy or bad luck, you have a much better chance of enjoying your lunch—and the job you’ll have a better chance of landing. Move forward with your plans knowing that you DO control your career. Is it as easy as reading these steps? No, but if you make a true effort to positively go in the direction your choose, you will be on your way to managing your job hunt and/or your career with finesse and aplomb!

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success . Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.