Top 10 Secrets for Job Search Success

Sometimes, it can seem that you've done all the right things when it comes to your job search, but you still aren't successful. Although this can be a frustrating situation, the fact of the matter is that there is a lot of competition for the jobs that are available.

These days, you need to do more than send in a decent cover letter and arrive on time for the interview. You need to stand out from the crowd.

Here are ten things you can do that will help you get hired fast.

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Quality Always Trumps Quantity

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It seems that everyone has a friend of a friend who scrupulously applied online to over 300 jobs, tracked them all in a spreadsheet, and only heard back from a few employers.

Unfortunately, this isn't an uncommon occurrence, but the solution is straightforward: quality trumps quantity. After all, your time is money, so be discriminating about where you apply. It's okay to take a few risks now and then, but limit the number of "reach" jobs you apply for.

Instead, focus your energy on writing personalized cover letters, targeted resumes, and sending them out to companies hiring for positions that you are qualified for. The closer a match, the better your chances of getting hired.

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Personalize Your Application Materials to Perfection

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The majority of recruiters won't even look at your resume if your cover letter is vague and generalized, so be as specific as possible with your job application.

Write a personalized cover letter, and if possible, avoid the "To Whom it May Concern" opening and find the name of a recruiter, hiring manager, or human resources director at the organization you're applying to. It can be a key way to fast-track your application. Browsing LinkedIn is a useful way of identifying employees in a company.

If you're applying for different types of positions, create targeted resumes to match, highlighting the employment history that is most relevant to the job that you're after.

And, it's just as important to make sure your cover letter and resume are free of grammatical errors or typos. When employers are reading dozens of resumes a day, a typo or mistake can quickly get your application thrown in the reject pile.

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Capitalize on Your Networking Connections

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It sounds cliché, but being able to "name drop" in your cover letter or email inquiry will send your application straight to the top of the pile, or close to it. When you're looking for a job, you should take advantage of your personal and professional network as much as possible.

Reach out to former co-workers, managers, bosses, and other connections to see if their current workplace is hiring. You may also ask friends or family, and if you've maintained a good relationship with any of your professors from college or graduate school, you might ask if they can recommend any companies to which you should apply.

Also, you can use LinkedIn's search feature to identify network connections and even alumni of your alma mater in different cities, fields, and companies.

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Optimize Your Online Persona

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What will your potential employer see when they Google your name? Hopefully, it's your LinkedIn, personal webpage, or online portfolio that comes up.

Before you start your job search, do a "cyber cleanse" protecting your privacy settings on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media accounts you might not want an interviewer to see. Do a thorough check to make sure you are using social media correctly in your job search.

Then, update your LinkedIn, or Google Plus profile, with your latest employment information.

If you have the time or the capability, consider making a personal webpage or online portfolio to exhibit your past work and provide positive information about yourself to employers.

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Impress the Interviewer With a Portfolio

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The average person will bring a business card or a copy of their resume to an interview; a stand-out candidate will bring a portfolio folder that includes their cover letter, resume, printed recommendations, and examples of past work, if relevant.

Although it takes some extra time to print and organize these materials, you might be surprised at how far it can get you in the interview process.

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Practice Makes Interview Perfect

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"Winging it" during an interviewer is not only disrespectful to the company you're applying to but, it's also extremely disadvantageous to your own job search prospects.

Take the time to practice sample interview questions and answers, research the company, and rehearse your personal statement and citations listed on your resume. Enlist your spouse, roommate, or friend to help out.

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Anecdotes = Advantages

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When you're writing your cover letter, citing your experience on a resume, or answering questions in an interview, try to be as specific as possible. Even the most articulate person will be brought down by vague comments like, "I'm a hard worker," or "I'm a people person."

Don't just talk about what you're good at - but hit on the where, when, why, and how. Have a handful of specific anecdotes that you can discuss naturally and with ease to back up the professional and personal qualities that make you a good candidate for the job.

Behavioral interview questions especially require evidential answers.

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Leave a Last Impression

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You already know that first impressions are key, meaning that it's imperative to put together a professional outfit, iron your shirt, polish your shoes, and so on, but did you know that leaving a good last impression is just as important?

Although you should say goodbye to your interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile, it doesn't end there. Ask for a business card, too, and then go home, log-on to your email, and send a thank you note to the interviewer for taking the time to speak with you.

It isn't just a way of scoring brownie points. It can also be a way to reiterate your interest in the position, emphasize any points you'd like to make about your work experience or mention anything you didn't get to say during the interview.

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Informational Interview to Job Interview

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Perhaps a former colleague works at a new company that you're interested in, but maybe this company isn't hiring at the moment. Maybe an old boss has retired but still has valuable connections in your field. Maybe a friend has recently gotten a job in an area of work you'd like to take on, but aren't familiar with.

These are just a few examples of when it'd be appropriate to reach out to your professional network and ask about the possibility of arranging an informational interview.

Informational interviews are great ways to connect with other people and with an organization, getting your name out there and obtaining a sense of company culture.

After an informational interview, remember to ask for a business card and if you can stay in touch - and you might just find that the next time you meet with that person, it will be for a job interview.

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Give to Receive

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We've already established that reaching out to your professional network can be the trick to getting a job. But what can you do to reel that network in and solidify those connections?

Of course, it's important to maintain those relationships, even on a personal level. Send a holiday card, reach out on birthdays, go out to lunch, or grab a cup of coffee.

You can also offer to help others, too. There are many ways you can do this: proofread a friend's cover letter or resume, share insight about past companies you've worked for, offer advice about transitioning into your field.