1. Apply for the right jobs. Study job descriptions and highlight the parts describing you. If, when you're done, most of the description isn't highlighted, then that job probably isn't a good match. Don't waste your time applying for positions that are not right for you; instead, use your time and energy to personalize and target applications for jobs you have a chance to land.
2. Research companies seeking your skills. Use LinkedIn's Skills section to help choose suitable organizations. Talk to people about what skills their companies value. Target your job search and apply for positions where they'll value and appreciate your talents.
3. Create and cultivate a professional online presence. Jobvite's 2011 Social Job Seeker Survey reports 89 percent of companies will use social networks as part of their hiring plans this year. It's important to have a professional presence on all the major social media sites. Start with LinkedIn and then expand a professional online identity to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Consider creating and maintaining your own professional website like a social resume.
Don't just create your profile and expect it to do all the work. You must also update your status, interact with people you want to know, and demonstrate your expertise online.
4. Network in person. Join professional organizations (many will have student or new professional rates) and attend events where you can expect to meet prospective hiring managers and mentors. Don't forget your campus career center or alumni office's networking programs. The more people you can meet and impress in person, the more likely someone will refer you for an opportunity. A study by CareerXRoads shows referrals as the largest source (28 percent) of hires for companies.
5. Practice your pitch. Be able to tell people what you do, why it's important to them, and about your accomplishments. Narrow down these talking points to a 30-second introduction.
6. Transform your resume into a marketing document. It is not about your past, it's about the connection between what you can do and what the organization needs you to do. Consider the hiring manager's needs and create a resume that makes it clear you're a good fit for the job.
7. Act like a professional. You never know where you could meet a potential hiring manager. It could be someone in line at a grocery store, or a friend of a friend you meet at a social event. Online and in person, dress, speak, and act like someone you would hire. This doesn't mean you have to be stiff or boring, but don't speak in slang or communicate in "txt spk;" this will not impress the majority of professionals who could hire you. Practice direct eye contact, a strong handshake, and fluidly describing what you do. Be prepared to tell your story at the drop of a hat.
8. Be a good listener, ask questions to learn about networking contacts, and follow up. Don't answer your phone or check your text messages or email when involved in conversations. During networking meetings, make a point to ask questions about others' families and hobbies, then pay attention to their responses. It's impressive when you remember details and you can use this information to create great follow-up messages. For example, if a contact describes how he really enjoys traveling and is planning a trip to Italy, forward a follow-up note along with an article from a major newspaper or magazine about fun things to do in Venice. This helps you stand out and may inspire the contact to help you with your search.
9. Don't act like a desperate job seeker. No matter how difficult the job search, always focus on your skills and be positive. Don't complain online or in person about how hard things seem. People don't trust pessimists and complainers with their contacts, and expanding your network with new contacts is important to help land a job.
10. Use your time well. Consider volunteering or creating a interim business. It may take some time to land an appropriate job. In the meantime, be sure you use your time well. Volunteer with organizations to practice the skills you need to use. While not everyone is suited for becoming a full-time entrepreneur, it can't hurt to hang a virtual shingle and offer yourself as a consultant doing the work you would like to do full time.
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.