Job SearchSearching for a job in this economy is like searching for that elusive needle in a haystack. It could be a daunting task to find the right position and to shine through the muck of the unemployed to be noticed and at least get a call for an interview. Networking is your best bet, or so I’ve been told; but even the concept of networking has changed with this economy. No longer are we alone to make the connections we need. No longer is networking limited to headhunters (though they can be of assistance if you stay on top of them). Today, networking has evolved into something much more useful: your entire list of friends. And through my friends, I learned some things about the search for that perfect job. This is what they taught me:

Rely on your friends

Your friends are incredibly important during a job search. You need to rely on them, as they should also be relying on you. I can’t look for a job in every place and location by myself, but if my friends are also keeping their eyes and ears open, I’ll learn about more opportunities I might have missed. You can also keep your friends in mind as you’re searching for yourself. Not everything you find will be perfect for you, but you just might find that perfect position for one of your friends. Forward it to them to help them out.

Build up your list of references and include your friends. Some of them may be colleagues and some may not; but even personal references can be important.

Share your resume and get LinkedIn

A lot of times we miss things in putting together our resume. This is where more eyes are very helpful. Share your resume with a few of your friends and ask for input. It’s especially helpful if you know someone who normally interviews people and reads a lot of resumes, because they know what people are going to be looking for when calling for interviews.

Once you have your resume together, register for a LinkedIn account. It’s free, and you’ll be able to create your resume there and direct people to the site to see more information about you, contact you through your page, and add you to their personal network (and vice-versa). Colleagues can also write recommendations for you that you can display on your page.

Use the internet job search engines to your benefit

Using sites like Monster and CareerBuilders can also help generate possibilities. Take the time to create your resume on these sites (as well as some others). The more time you spend putting together your profiles as completely as possible, the more you’ll stand out.

But even more important is keeping your profile active. To do this, update your resume on those sites every week, even if you just change a letter, or delete the resume and re-upload it. Doing this marks your profile as having been changed, and recruiters are looking for that. When recruiters search these sites for people, they’re looking for those who’ve just posted or just updated their resume, so you will always be on their lists.

Print your own personal business cards

Print up some personal business cards with your name, address, phone numbers, email addresses, and your LinkedIn link. If you buy the Avery business cards, you can print just 10 at a time (1 page) to save money and only print what you need when you need them. And when you meet people in an interview (or possible interview), give them one of your cards to make sure they have a way to contact you directly.

Write real letters

The art of letter-writing is long gone – but not dead. Stop printing out those generic letters when applying for a position. Actually sit down and work out the precise letter for that specific job. Tell them why you’re the perfect fit for the job, showing how you’ve proven yourself in past positions in relations to the prospective position.

And just as importantly, after every interview send the person you spoke to a thank you letter (or in this case, more likely an email). Let them know how much you enjoyed meeting them and learning about the company. Personalize it. Make it honest and sincere.

Be true to yourself

The most important thing of all is being true to yourself. Remember: they’re not only interviewing you. You’re also interviewing them. Take all things into consideration, not just the qualifications for the job. Most likely if you’re applying for a position, there won’t be a question about your skill-set. So be honest with everything you’ve done in the past without embellishment.

But also take the atmosphere into consideration. Were you comfortable during the interview? How did they make you feel? If you’re not comfortable with them or if you felt any kind of flags go up during the interview, it just might not be the right position.

Relax!

Enjoy the experience and relax. Think of your interviews as a visit with someone who knows what kind of work you do. You have something in common to discuss. By staying relaxed, you’ll come across very well in your interview.

I’ll let you know if this all works for me.

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