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Advice from the Experts

Even though we usually focus on resolutions at the start of a New Year,  it's always an appropriate time to consider resolutions that can be integrated into your job search.  Some of the top experts in job searching and career development techniques have graciously offered their suggestions on how to maximize your potential to land that "special job."

Susan Heathfield
About Guide to Human Resources
One of the most insidious experiences of job seekers, or anyone who sells their services as an independent contractor, for that matter, is the cumulative effect of rejection. The most important tip I offer job seekers is to consciously recognize that employers who fail to hire you are not rejecting you as a fundamentally capable and valuable human being.

You may have the wrong mix of skills for the available position. The employer may have other applicants with more experience in the areas most important to the job. The potential employer is balancing your strengths and skills with those of all of the other employees in the work unit. The employer is also looking forward to the future direction of the unit and your strengths may not be congruent with that direction. So, resolve to remind yourself daily that you are not being rejected when an employer fails to hire you.  

A second resolution is to recognize that you are not your work. Your work is one thing that you do. Use times of unemployment to explore other aspects of your life and world. Have you always wanted to try writing for a magazine? Now is the time to send a query. Have you decided to make exercise and fitness a regular portion of your daily plan? Now is the time to establish good habits that you can keep when you are employed again. Do you close the door to your home office because you can't stand the mess? You won't find a better time to do some fundamental organizing that will support your new employment.

Tory Johnson
Women for Hire

Be able to identify 3 to 5 of your greatest accomplishments. Make sure you can articulate them in a smart, succinct manner. Go through each line of your resume to determine where you can translate previous "responsibilities" into previous "achievements." Quantify or qualify whenever possible. Successes are more impressive to decision makers than merely rehashing your job description.

Instead of relying solely on job postings and help wanted ads as your source for openings, try a more proactive approach by making a list of 50 employers that you'd like to work for. Research them online, read their annual reports (if available) and try their products and/or services, if applicable. Aim to identify a need and pitch yourself to the hiring manager as the ideal candidate to lead the effort. Do you have a plan to save the company money, increase sales or execute a dynamic marketing campaign? Focus on matching their needs with your strengths to form a winning combination. In most cases if your idea is strong, you'll at least get a hearing.

Michael Landes
Back Door Guide to Short-Term Adventures

  • Create a life's list. I want to... work on an organic farm, lead an adventure trip in Nepal, climb Mt. Fuji, write a book, live on a boat... got the picture? See how many you can check off your list in 2003 (and see how many more you can add to it!)
  • Indulge in three books to start your year off right. That's right, for every idea you have about landing a cool job, there's a book to help you with your pursuits. See what changes happen because of it
  • Connect with the right person. Whether your dream is to work at a National Park or to volunteer in Africa, there is someone who has "been there, done that." Make it a goal to find that person and pick their brain. Offering to buy them lunch is a good starting point.
  • Listen to the Zen inside. Sound silly? Not really. Your inner light will always guide you on the right path if you stop and listen. Journalize these thoughts.
  • Thank everyone who helps you in your pursuits. Not only does humanity need more acts of kindness, you never know how this "helping hand" will help to change your life.

Bob Levinstein

  • Update your resume.
  • Register for three new e-mail agents at job web sites.
  • Search the web to find 3 headhunters who specialize in the type of area you're interested in and call to speak to all 3 (don't just send your resume!).
  • Call 3 colleagues in your industry and ask them to keep an out for openings or you (make sure you can trust them!).

Ken Ramberg

  • Spend some free time while in between jobs volunteering at a local charity.
  • Go interviews, prepared, enthusiastic and on-time!
  • Be persistent and positive in this tough economy.
  • Register and post a resume on and MonsterTrak.
Here are some suggestions from career counselors for resolutions that will help make your job search a success.

Andrea Dine
Assistant Director, Career Development Center 
Macalester College

  • Write a thank you note to each member of my job search network thanking them for their past assistance and updating them on my current job search status.
  • I will be forgiving of and positive about myself throughout my job search, even when I experience frustrating situations.

Phil Hey
Director, Career Services
Briar Cliff University

  • Talk to three people every day about your job search (whatever stage it's in) and TAKE NOTES.

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