How to jump-start your job search

Whether your last job search was a distant memory or all-too-recent, looking for a new position can often feel overwhelming. Here are some tips to help jump-start your search.

1. Get Prepared:

The first thing you need to do when starting a job search is to define your objective - you're not just asking yourself what it is you want to do next, you also are deciding on the specific skillset you are offering a prospective employer.

Get your resume ready to go. While you will be making tweaks to tailor it to fit different opportunities as they come along, you should have a solid baseline in place to make it easier to modify on a case-by-case basis. Be sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date, as well.

2. Set Some Ground Rules:

An organized job search is a much more productive search. To help yourself get into good habits, designate time throughout the week to focus exclusively on job searching. Determine how many resumes a week you hope to send out and set up a system to keep track of your efforts.

3. Where to Look:

So, you have a clear idea of what it is you're looking to do, a resume you feel proud of, and a sharp looking interview suit hanging in your closet - now what?

Tell everyone. Tell the people who you think are likely to be able to help you, and tell everyone else, too. You never know who has a cousin who just happens to be looking for a new software developer or a friend who is in the market to hire a program director. Be sure to tell people exactly what it is you are looking for - if you just tell people you're looking for "a job" you're likely to get some sympathy, but if you tell people you're looking for a job as an executive assistant, you're much more likely to get some leads.

Check out the job boards. You'll want to search the general job boards such as Indeed.com and the job board on LinkedIn. The Philly.com job board has a nice feature that lets you quickly see how many jobs are being advertised at the area's top employers in a given category. But also be sure to look through industry-specific job boards, such as Dice.com for tech careers, CareersInFood.com for food service positions, or Idealist.org for jobs with non-profit organizations. Visit the websites of professional societies or industry affiliations to see if they have job postings that could be a good fit. Remember that you can search by keywords and you do not need to search by job title.

Contact your college's career services or alumni relations department. More and more colleges are looking for ways to help their graduates find employment and remain engaged after graduating.

Build a list of companies you are especially interested in. Then go down the list, visiting each company's website to see if they are posting any relevant positions on their own site. If not, consider reaching out to the appropriate contact person there anyway (if they don't explicitly say they do not accept unsolicited resumes).

Connect with local organizations dedicated to helping job seekers. The Philadelphia area offers a number of truly excellent, free of charge programs that help job seekers prepare for new careers and connect with prospective employers. The Urban League of Philadelphia hosts the customer service-focused Connect To Work program, headed up by Kenneth L. Johnson, President and Diversity Recruiter, at East Coast Executives. Temple University's Director of Community Outreach & Hiring, Michael Robinson conducts annual New Opportunities Workshops (NOW) job readiness training seminars for North Philadelphia area residents. JEVS Human Services holds regular career fairs in addition to the skills training and other career services they offer. Philadelphia Metro Reach specializes in helping veterans transition and find employment. The Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation serves residents with disabilities. Pennsylvania CareerLink has local offices providing a range of services to state residents seeking work.

Consider doing some strategic volunteering. This can be especially useful in helping gain or polish your skills if you're making a career change or re-entering the workforce. Volunteering is also a great way to expand your network and meet other people who are passionate about the field.

4. Stay Positive:

Job searching is hard work and often frustrating. Remember that you will probably need to use multiple channels to get your resume into the right hands and maintaining a positive attitude will help you get hired.

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