Remind yourself of these common sense tips now and throughout the months ahead:
1. Define your personal brand. This should be the consistent lead in your résumé, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. It is the simple answer to the question: "Tell me about your (professional) self" in no more than two or three sentences. Your brand should describe what you do professionally, and convey how you set yourself apart from others who do the same or similar things.
2. Make your résumé shine with accomplishments. If any of your bullet points begin with something like, "Responsible for…" you have work to do. These kinds of statements only serve to lump you in with everyone who possesses a similar background. They say nothing about how well you have fulfilled your responsibilities, or how you went about doing your job.
Each bullet point should say something about the challenge you faced, what skills or tools you utilized in dealing with it, what you actually did and the results that you attained. Statements like these truly show off your value to any potential employer.
3. Complete your LinkedIn profile and keep it current. Liberally sprinkle in keywords of actions, skills, industry and education that are likely to be found on job descriptions for which you would likely apply. Make certain to complete all the sections of the profile. Gain added visibility by uploading into it appropriate videos, audio, images or documents that demonstrate what you have achieved. Last but not least, make sure to solicit references (as opposed to endorsements) for each of the positions you've held and have them included.
4. Identify and keep in contact with your references. While most of the time references won't be contacted until late in the hiring process, you never know for certain when you will be asked to supply them. You run the risk of appearing unprepared If you are unable, without delay, to provide the names of at least one supervisor and other peers who can speak to your specific accomplishments, skills, work ethic and character.
At the same time, you need to keep the people who will be your advocates up to date with you, your activities, aspirations and above all else the names of any people or companies likely to contact them. It's always a good idea to give your references some sense of the challenges you face in terms of landing any specific job, the nature of the work you would be doing, or why you feel the position represents a good fit for you. When your reference knows this, he or she can do much in the space of a few minutes to make the points that need to be made on your behalf to convince the employer that you have the value that they seek.
5. Keep your applications personal. Résumé readers know when they are on the receiving end of a mass distribution of your résumé, and they are rarely flattered or impressed.
Even when you don't know who specifically will be looking at your résumé, have pity on the poor human resources person who has to try too keep straight the 100 résumés on their screen each titled simply "resume.doc." Show that at least you know where yours is going by uniquely renaming the document for each company, "Jane Jobhunter Resume for ABC Company.doc."
Make your cover letter personal as well, even if only addressing it to "HR at ABC, Inc.," and show you know something about the company and why you represent unique value for them more than the fact that you want the job in the first paragraph.
6. Network, network and network, both online and in-person. Be certain to get out of your shell and attend college reunions and homecomings, professional seminars, networking meetings, trade shows and other events. Don't ignore opportunities to build relationships with your peers or others in your industry via social networking, especially through LinkedIn Groups.
Remember that networking does NOT mean asking someone, "Can you help me get a job?" It is most effective when you ask, "How can I help you?" long before you tell someone how he or she can help you.
7. Don't ignore Twitter. No matter what you think of it, there is a huge amount of information available to be captured, including specific job announcements, news about companies and industries, tips for job hunting and much more.
8. Never violate the grandmother rule. If anything you ever say, write or post – no matter how private you think your conversation might be – would cause your grandmother to blush or disapprove, then keep the comments to yourself. You never know whose sensibilities you might offend, or who will regard you as unprofessional even if your opinions are well grounded.
What other tips do you have to share?
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.