The Ultimate Guide to Job Searching

If you've recently lost your job or are considering making a change, you may want to jump right into your job search. But before you start, you need a plan. Have you thought about these first steps?

1. Create an accomplishment-focused resume.

Don't just slap your most recent company name, job title, and laundry list of "job duties" on your old resume and call it an update. Take the time to think more strategically about your background and the value you offer employers. Prove your abilities and potential by communicating strong stories of past career success. Check out AOL Jobs' Ultimate Guide to Resumes and our resume samples for more detailed tips.

2. Reach out to your network.

Most people get jobs through people they know. Contact family, friends and colleagues, and think about the people in your inner circle who may have fallen off your radar but may be able to help you in your search. Reestablish connections first before asking for any help or advice pertaining to your job search. Take a look at AOL Jobs' Ultimate Guide to Networking for more suggestions on building a powerful network.

3. Embrace social media.

Tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can jump-start a job search and quickly connect you to people, their friends and colleagues. Make sure you have built out your profiles on these sites completely and update your status regularly to remain engaged in the communities. Learn more about LinkedIn.

4. Study up for your interviews.

Preparation is key. A great way to prepare for interviews is to write down your work success stories. Quantify your stories whenever possible by proving how you helped the companies you supported make money, save money, save time, eliminate redundancies, improve processes, grow the business, or keep the business. Then review typical interview questions and make decisions as to which stories best match the competency required in the interview question. Read AOL Jobs' Ultimate Guide to Interviewing for more tips on how to prepare.

5. Know your market value.

Many people use their past salary as the benchmark for determining future salary. But all a previous salary represents is what someone was willing to pay you to do a particular job at a particular point in time. This salary is irrelevant to your future earning potential. Research your market value using a salary survey tool such as Payscale so you will be prepared when asked questions about your salary expectations.

6. Get organized.

During a job search you accumulate a lot of information on people and contacts. You may have multiple versions of your resume, assorted leads, job-related websites, important articles, business cards, etc. Use a contact management tool such as Jibber Jobber to keep your information organized.

7. Keep a journal.

Journaling is a great way to record how you are feeling during your search and examine the trends that could be indicators of what is working in your search and what is not. Some even turn their journals into blogs to create a following and make new friends and contacts as they chronicle their unemployment experience.

8. Volunteer.

Find a cause you are passionate about and volunteer for a role that allows you to create visibility in front of the decision makers in this volunteer community. You never know who these people may know and what types of introductions they may be able to make for you. And volunteering helps you feel needed and reminds you of all you have to be grateful for.

9. Upgrade your look.

This is not an indulgence. The little details like your hair and nails count during a job search. And it can be rejuvenating to get a new hairstyle or experiment with a new nail color. Clothes are important as well. Purchasing a new scarf, tie, hair piece, or handkerchief can change up the interview suit you are tired of wearing and give you a renewed sense of confidence.

10. Find inspiration.

Books by Harvey Mackay and Keith Ferrazi have provided inspiration for millions of job seekers over the years. Check out some of their titles at your local library.

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In referring to Vicky's situation; Why not start your own business? You have much more background and experience in how to run a business than most people do who are just starting up. Maybe approach several businesses and offer your services as a "Professional Troubleshooter" to find ways that they could improve their services while cutting costs? Most new businesses fail because they only have the idea for a product but no idea on how to run the day-to-day work. Maybe checking with your city's chamber of commerce on new businesses would give you a start in developing a client list. Read up on the type of services that you'd offer and charge accordingly. Maybe study for your CPA or volunteer for AARP tax preparers to expand your list. In any event, at least read the latest issue (at most libraries) of the Occupation Outlook published by the U.S. Dept. of Labor to see what other jobs make require the skills that you bring. Good luck.

April 08 2013 at 12:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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October 11 2011 at 5:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Interesting food for thought from both the articles and comments. Here is my background - I do not have a college degree, but I have completed a couple of years of college. I have over 20 years experience as office manager, executive assistant, coordinator for sales teams, etc., all basically secretarial. I have 10 years experience in accounts payable in a company with offices in almost every country in the world. I have over 15 years experience in customer support, most of it dealing with irate people having problems with electronic tax payments. I have 8 years experience as a business analyst working with new software releases. I am very detail oriented, and I see and understand how one event or item can impact multiple areas of a company. Yes, some of these skills overlapped each other. Now for my dilemma - My age is against me, I am 57. I don't have a college degree, so that kicks me out of the competition by a software program that scans resumes for key words. For the last 15 years my job duties were not 'secretarial' or 'administrative' in nature, so I don't qualify for 'recent experience'. The company I worked for as a business analyst was so large, they wrote their own custom programs for everything; nice, but now I have never seen the commercial software I should know how to use. In the accounting world, even though I have experience, I don't have a degree in accounting. So I'm stuck still looking for something - and I'm starting into my 4th year of being unemployed. And to add insult to injury, so to speak, I was laid off from a position that paid $55,000 a year and included 24 paid vacation days a year. I fully realize a new employer will not offer a salary anywhere close to being comparable. Maybe you understand why I'm stuck in the unemployment rut?

January 28 2011 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Vicky's comment

October 15 2011 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

October 15 2011 at 11:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I believe in this "depression" one would have to known someone on the inside.

January 25 2011 at 12:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Diane's comment

October 15 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What I need to know is how to get employers to stop discriminating on the basis of age! Why don't you tell us how to surmount what I call "the Grey Wall"?? I've done all the above, to no avail. I have great clerical skills, an excellent work record and great performance reviews. But I'm also 59-year-old and employers refuse to even consider older workers. It's disgusting and it's illegal, but the government does nothing about this problem. I hate this country now - I hate what America has become: a country ruled by a corporatocracy and rich aristocracy. America s*cks!

January 24 2011 at 8:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to earlymusicus's comment

October 15 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, everyone knows there are no jobs out there, they are all online nowdays! Everything about making an income has shifted to being online so if you are one who has not used computers much and even despise them,Listen up; It is very well worth it to brush up on some simple and basic computer skills so you can get back to making good and frequent income so you can get on with your life on a respectable level again. Start here:

January 24 2011 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think in order to be successful especially in this economy is to be hardworking and dedicated. It is also to be a team leader and have great team work. In regards to college graduates, people should not just look at only grades, but also at Memberships, affiliation of organizations that you belong to. Having a job and doing leadership is also pivotal. Being well rounded is also a key to being successful.

January 24 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Warren's comment

October 15 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

October 15 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Question: Does a new suit, or nail polish color determine if the person is qualified or not.. Shouldnt your experience,knowledge, education, desire to be a stable employee should have a determination in this. It doesnt!
Even if you have been unemployed for awhile.. What usually happens is the red flags go up, IE; What wrong with this person.. Regarding a persons resume: A resume is very subjective in nature.. What one employer is looking for in a resume another may not. Too much information/Too litte information. To think there is a magic bullet resume is crazy. With the flood of older employees, retirees, college grads, its an employers market place. How does one know, what an employer is looking for? You dont!

Attitude, personality traits, gelling, comfort level on the employer/interviewee has a lot to do with a sucuessful interview. Even if you have the perfect resume, perfect interview, desire etc. The Employer will get the right person, for the right salary to their advantage- "Bang for the Buck" So what is a person to do??

January 24 2011 at 4:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would say no. 1 and no. 8 might be good advise, considering this job

Since we know the standard resume isn't working for us, it might not
hurt to make one that focuses on accomplishments. We can say we tried
it, even it doesn't work either.

Given there is really no work out there right now, spending time doing
volunteer work of some kind could be fitted in between hopeless job
It would make us "feel" needed like the article states as well.

The other tips have either been attempted, completed, or can't be done
due to the expenses. The author perhaps forgets we are unemployed, which
means income isn't coming in.

January 24 2011 at 1:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Chad's comment

Chad, your persona either contributes greatly or detracts on a even larger scale. I understand your situation completely as I am not an author writing advice having not been their and done that. I was put out to pasture by a new city administration (politics & personality) after a long term of representation simply because I would always do the "right" thing, but not always the popular. Volunteering is a very, very good start. It will be a gift to the needy and to yourself. The uplift will shine through & make you that more desirable as a paid employee. Think Positive Thoughts and Best of Luck.

January 24 2011 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carol's comment

October 15 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

October 15 2011 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you have special skills it isn't that hard to get a job now. The problem is that most people don't have marketable skills

January 24 2011 at 8:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
5 replies to Stan's comment

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