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Job search tips for improving odds and beating the competition

The U.S. Department of Labor reported this month that job seekers outnumber reported job openings by about 5-1. That helps explain job hunters' protracted searches. Competition for available jobs is fierce. With so many applicants, employers have the luxury to wait for the perfect candidate. Here are ways to appear "perfect" for your target job. Diane Stafford, McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

• Apply only for the positions for which you can make the case that you're a good fit. You'll just depress yourself and get no responses by applying for longer-shot jobs.

• Tailor your resume for the published requirements. Show how your professional experience fits the job.

• If you're trying to change industries, translate industry jargon or titles to make it clear how your skills and experience are transferable.

• Research compensation structures in the industry and company so that you don't price yourself out of consideration or appear "overqualified."

• Augment your resume with a cover letter or attachment offering a strong sales, marketing, quality or productivity improvement idea.

• Give names and correct contact information for references you know will say positive things about you. Keep your references updated so that they don't say, "I know Mary really wants to work as an events planner" when you've applied for a public relations job.

• If you're stuck with an online application system, answer every question.

• Have a clear, benign e-mail address, such as your name, rather than something silly like "boogerboy" or "easygrrrl."

• Be prepared for a first-round telephone screening. Be ready with solid answers to questions you'd expect in an interview, including "Why do you want to work here?"

• Have a clear, straightforward recorded greeting on your cell phone and landline — no music, no kids, no sayings, no background noise.

Job search tips for improving odds and beating the competition 06/22/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 22, 2009 5:33pm]
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