You need to know what you offer. It's a cliché to say, "If you don't know what you offer, no one else will know it either," but it's probably one of the most important aspects of job search. If you cannot identify and explain your skills and accomplishments (in writing and in person), it will be very difficult to land a new job. Take stock of what you offer an employer. Start writing down your skills and pay special attention to the items that are unique or special. Then, build the case for hiring you around those items.
Communicate what you are worth. Once you know what you offer, you're on the right track, but the real trick is being able to convince other people that you have what it takes. Being great isn't enough—you need to be able to communicate your value to employers. The best way to do this is via a consistent stream of information from your social media profiles. By publicizing your expertise you help convince people who follow you online that you really are an expert in your field. Your resume and online portfolios (your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ profiles, for example), are equally important, so don't neglect one in favor of the other. When you can communicate your value, it's much easier to successfully interview for a job.
Apply for the right jobs. Stop applying for jobs you're not qualified to do. Hiring managers are laughing to their friends about people who seem to apply for any job without regard for the qualifications. It will not help you to apply for positions if you don't have the necessary skills, so don't waste your time.
Target and identify specific organizations where you want to work. If you're not focused, it will be very difficult to land a job, and it's virtually impossible to leverage a useful network if you don't have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to do it. Do not convince yourself that it's better to be flexible, because it will only confuse people you meet if you can't explain what you want to do and where you want to work.
Identify allies for your job search. Networking is still important, so don't overlook the value of inviting other people to join you in your job search efforts. You need people who believe in your cause and are convinced that you deserve the kind of position you seek, so don't approach contacts as a desperate job seeker who needs a lot of help. Instead, be the professional you are, explain what you're looking for, and be specific when you meet new contacts who have the capacity to make a useful introduction for you. Remember: You cannot focus on your job search when you talk to people about your goals; if you do, you become just another desperate job seeker. Instead, focus on what you have to offer: ideas, suggestions, and expertise relevant to your field. Offer it in exchange for an introduction to someone at one of your target organizations, and you'll be on your way.
Eliminate information from your resume that confuses possible employers or causes them to say, "hmmm." Once you follow all of these steps, you need to seal the deal with application materials that don't confuse the recipient. Don't include jargon or acronyms on your resume that don't relate to the job you're applying for and don't incorporate details on your resume that don't specifically identify why you are a good fit for that job. The last thing you want to do is confuse someone who receives your resume. If you are careful enough to pass the initial computerized resume review, don't squander your opportunity by mucking up the works with a lot of extra, unimportant information in your materials.
When you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to a new job in the new year.
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.