Ten 'Must-Do' Tips for Job Seekers

Job Seeker By Alina Dizik

As a job seeker, finding the right position can often be a frustrating experience. But there are ways to make your search a little bit easier.

Here are 10 tips from career experts to simplify your job search:

1. Learn how to get past the generic HR inbox.

Typically e-mailing your resume to human resources or filling out an online application means it will get short shrift once opened on the other end. Most of the time it's being pre-screened by a software program for keywords that correspond with the job requirements.

"People need to understand what an applicant tracking system is, what it looks for and how to maximize the odds that your resume will pass through the [system], and move on to human eyeballs," explains Jenny Foss, a career expert who blogs at jobjenny.com.

2. Don't stress over the resume.

If you have a limited amount of time, don't spend it all at your computer crafting a cover letter or preparing your resume. "Cover letters and resumes come a distant third or fourth [as the most important part of] your job search -- never rely solely on them," says Rich Gee, an executive coach. Instead, Gee suggests using the time to make connections at your dream company even if there are no openings. "[Target] a company because you would kill to work there -- not because it has open positions," he says.

3. Create a job-search game plan,

Just because you're looking for a job doesn't mean you need to apply to every position that comes your way. Instead, take the time to think through a specific plan for how you're going to land your next gig, Foss suggests. "Create an overall strategy, and then break it down into tactical efforts. Schedule your week, your days, your hours and know what you are going to do every day, before you get in front of the computer and surf aimlessly for eight hours," she says.

4. Conduct research before each interview,

Even if you've had a dozen interviews in the past three months doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare for the next one. Always take the time to understand the company -- beyond just looking at the website. Also, meet with people who have held similar roles or work at the firm. Knowing about the firm and the position can help you be less stressed during the interview.

5. Accept tea or water.

Ward off nervousness by using this interview trick: "At the beginning of the interview, if the interviewer asks if you want water, tea, etc., always say yes," explains Alesia Benedict, chief executive of GetInterviews.com. "It serves as a great prop if you need to stall a moment and gather your thoughts before responding to a question." Use it when the interviewer presents tricky questions that you'd like to take a few seconds to think about.

6. Pay attention to the details.

Anything from misspelling the interviewer's name in a post-interview thank you note, to coming in a few minutes late for an interview can cost you a job. To avoid mishaps, be sure to give extra attention to all of your dealings with potential employers.

7. Tap into your alumni network.

With many universities having well-maintained alumni networks, contact your alumni club for an up-to-date directory. Use the directory to find people who can help you land your next job. Many of them are eager to help fellow alums because of loyalty to the school.

8. Keep e-mails formal.

Even if you're simply confirming the meeting time to your interview, it's important to put your best foot forward, Benedict says. Skip terms written in shorthand like "thanx" or "2morrow" which come off as unprofessional. "Your e-mail messages should be as clean and polished as a cover letter would be," she says.

9. Include a ZIP code on your resume.

If you're looking for a job in your area, it's a good idea to leave your ZIP code in your address (even if it doesn't seem necessary at the time). "Recruiters often give preference to candidates who are local and will do a search on ZIP codes in the resume databases to find candidates," Benedict says.

10. Be truthful.

It can be tempting to appear like you have far more expertise, especially if you're just starting out, but exaggerating your experience will likely backfire. Employers are looking for trustworthy individuals and are unlikely to hire someone who they have a hunch isn't being totally truthful.

Next: Companies Hiring This Week

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Alina Dizik researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CareerBuilder on Twitter.

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Truth is applicants are accepted or rejected within the first ten seconds of their interview, typically within the time between entering the office and taking a seat.... minds are made up based 99 44/100% on physical appearence... the actual interview per se is merely a formality, means little because everyone presents themself as an expert on whatever the job for which they are applying. When the interviewer is tough it's because they've already rejected you based on your appearance... when the interviewer quickly shifts to chit chat it's because they enjoy your appearence and you'll be accepted based on how references check out, any background check, and medical fitness. Applicants who are pleasing to the eye are far more likely to land the job than those who are far more intellectually qualified. Most male interviewers will accept female applicants solely on their bra size... not at all fair but it's one of those facts of life... any female with a C cup or larger they won't hear a word they say.

April 21 2011 at 1:45 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

if ANY of this bullshyt is true, no WONDER this country is wallowing in the economic vomit that was hurled up in 2008

April 21 2011 at 1:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

To say that cover letter and resume are insignificant is absolutely AWFUL advice - at least for most office positions. I've been doing recruitment for over a decade and can tell you that a person with a badly formatted or written resume starts out with 2 strikes. And, in many positions ,a cover letter is looked at as a way of judging someone's writing ability. It's also the candidate's opportunity to succinctly tell me why I should look at their resume.

April 21 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To be completely honest, I couldn't care less about someone's college network connections, their sororities or fraternities, or their extra curricular activities unless they are directly related to the work to be done. And I would hire someone with experience and common sense over a new college grad any day. The only time a college degree matters to me at all is if the position requires a specific license or certification. Otherwise, I value experience and good judgment over an overpriced education that mommy and daddy probably paid for any day.

April 21 2011 at 12:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dawn's comment

Thank you, Dawn! Got any openings?

April 21 2011 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

in all sincerity, if I am interviewing for a construction job, I sure as heck will not be in a suit or formal attire. for some odd reason, interview photos always show a conservative business/office environment.

April 21 2011 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

your appearance is secondary if you are extremely enthusiastic and you have unique talents. you have to dazzle the interviewer...give the company the impression that you will take them to new heights when (not if) they hire you. you must be the ultimate optimist.

April 21 2011 at 12:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ERIK's comment

I have to disagree to an extent. I do agree that people should dress appropriately for the industry in which they want to work, and your example of a construction job is perfect. However, I wouldn't say that appearance is secondary. There have been times when someone showed up for an interview who was so inappropriately dressed for the interview that it made me question their judgment, and I had to wonder how they would dress for work, or if they would hold their employees accountable for their appearance. No matter how enthusiastic someone is, they have to look professional.....that is your first impression, and sometimes that's the only one you get.

April 21 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dawn's comment

if any of what you just said is true then what the hells the point of experience and education? looks are important? good grief lady. It was your pretty boys in nice clean suits that collapsed the economy...way to go looks

April 21 2011 at 1:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

Major, major one that was left out .... if for some unhealthy reason you are a smoker ... never, never smoke before an interview, ever .... never smoke in your suit even AFTER the interview unless you're getting the suit drycleaned BEFORE your next interview ... smoking stinks and I'll guarantee you that if you smell like smoke at all .... you won't get the job and your interview will be a short one.

Always accept "water" if you are offered anything to drink. Water doesn't stain or leave marks. Nothing more unprofessional if you get splatters on that light colored shirt under your suit.
Use the water to your advantage AND the company advantage in negotiations especially:
You have 2 ears, 2 eyes, 2 sides to your brain & 1 mouth .... use them in that proportion ...... look twice, listen twice, and think twice before you speak! If you don't know an answer, say so ... interviewers can't stand people who talk to hear themselves talk when they don't know what they are talking about and there is nothing worse than trying to fake it ... ever. ... rersume to the round file.

April 21 2011 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do agree with ggmil43 about the "kids who don't know their way around an office." I'm so tired of being overlooked and outsourced by the younger generation. It makes me think that all my hard work, years of experience and earning my "battle scars" are all for naught.

All the wants ads specify “college graduate preferred”. Why? Most kids graduating from college can’t even spell and have no idea what they are doing. Does “college graduate” mean that they’re more intelligent? Maybe they can grasp things quicker because they spent four years behind books or on computers? How many of them actually have hands-on, first-hand, actual, practical experience? Sure, they’re young. And, you can get them for $12-$15 per hour. Take heed of the old adage, “You get what you pay for.”

The heck with newby college grads, most of whom can’t spell or punctuate a sentence. Why not try someone who has real, hands-on experience and knows what they are doing? The job market is tough enough and those of us who have been there/done that do not deserve to be overlooked or disrespected. If you’re shopping for someone with real experience, try an older model built to go the distance. They don’t make ‘em like they used to, you know.

And, if you're a "younger" employer, let go of that ego! Maybe an old dog could teach you a few new tricks!

April 21 2011 at 12:12 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Susan's comment

Yes, college graduates are smart... smart enough to pick up new things, such as skills, abilities, and they can adapt quickly to new requirements.

Experience is a dog chasing its tail because that's what it knows.

All the way with college grads. Rah Rah Rah!!!!!!!!!

April 21 2011 at 12:29 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to SczurekQL's comment

Remember that when you are older and are in the same boat.

April 21 2011 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

So you're saying that people who have been in the workforce for, say, 30-some years don't have skills, abilities and can't adapt quickly to new requirements? You, my dear, are what's wrong with this new "workforce".

When I started out, a word processor used 12" floppy disks and took up a cubicle's space. I actually learned to type on a manual in high school before the IBM Selectric became the "new" office must have. I may remember Gregg shorthand, but I can still dance my way around you on the Internet and use any new system you want to throw at me. I have seen a lot a changes, used most of them, took them in stride and learned to excel at each and every one of them - and I have retained what I learned.

Don't kick that old dog! It just may turn around and bite you in the ass!

April 21 2011 at 1:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down

Please forward this e-mail to ....aloha.Oakes@gmail.com......if you can. Thanks. This is good information.

April 21 2011 at 10:55 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

who shops in a "sty"? pigs?

April 21 2011 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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