Clearly, you need to ramp it up to have any chance to land a new job. Competition is fierce, so you need to be ready to approach your job search differently from the other equally qualified applicants who want the same position as you. Alan Corey, author of "The Subversive Job Search," suggests you take it up a notch so you'll be sure to have the best chance possible. How can you stand out subversively? Corey suggests trying the following:
1. Appear to be gainfully employed, even if you aren't. You've likely seen statistics or heard people talk about how much more difficult it is to get a job when you don't have a job. It’s ironic, but some employers do prefer to hire people who are not actively looking for work because they are already employed. Short of actually landing a job, what can you do to overcome this hurdle? Corey suggests you consider freelancing, by finding work online at sites such as Elance.com or Odesk.com. While the pay may be lower than you'd like, you'll be actively engaged in projects that will keep you active in your field. And Corey notes, "When asked in an interview if you are currently working, you can reply in the affirmative."
2. Target your application materials; don't try to be a "Jack-of-all-trades." It's tempting to approach your job search broadly and list everything you've ever done on your résumé so you look well rounded. However, Corey says he believes you run the risk of appearing to be someone who can't do one thing very well. Instead, he says, "Having some repetitive work-flow responsibilities and experiences on your résumé singles you out as an expert or industry veteran and thus, a top candidate."
3. SEO your résumé. Search engine optimization is not just for websites. Corey notes: "Make it easy for employers to find you on LinkedIn and in résumé databases by using searchable keywords and phrases on your résumés."
Use the terms your employers are most likely to search. For example, Corey suggests: "Use 'MBA' instead of 'Master of Business Administration' or 'PMP' instead of (or in addition to) 'Project Management Professional.'" Research the best terms by viewing an array of job descriptions and by carefully reading online publications related to your industry and target companies. In-person research can also provide great insights into the key issues facing your industry and the keywords employers use to describe those concerns.
4. Be future focused. Job seekers don't often consider the fact that the résumé is about the future more than it is about the past. While your job descriptions are important, it's more important to connect directly with what your future employer wants. Corey suggests you commit to credentials and to getting the skills and experience you need to demonstrate the direct connections between the employer's needs and what you offer.
5. Be consistent in your online profiles. You don't want to confuse employers who Google your name. (And statistics show that they will Google your name.) Be sure they find the same information that's on your résumé when they look at your LinkedIn profile. Corey notes: "If you are John Doe the lawyer on LinkedIn, but John Doe the lawyer and professional musician on Twitter, then you are muddling your career brand and possibly your chances of being hired." It's safest to help employers picture you as completely devoted and dedicated to the jobs they need to fill. Don't give anyone a reason to question your dedication or to wonder if you'd leave at the first chance to pursue your passion. "If someone has to wonder about your priorities, you could be passed over before you have a chance to prove yourself," Corey explains.
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 and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.