Four Secret Weapons for Standing Out in a Tight Job Market

Maybe you have a business degree, a nursing degree, or a computer science degree, and perhaps strong experience as well. But finding a job isn’t easy, even though the number of jobs has increased for the last year and unemployment has been trending down, according to the Department of Labor.

With elections on the horizon, some politicians are already promising millions of new jobs within the next few years. That does no good for job seekers today. Rather than wait, take these four steps to improve your chances.

Look Where the Jobs Are

When asked why he robbed banks, the notorious Willie Sutton answered, “That’s where the money is.” Be open to relocation if you can. Last month, unemployment dropped in 27 states, rose in 7, and stayed constant in 16. Consider targeting potential employers where the statistics are in your favor.

Contact Lots of Hiring Managers

Professional recruitment experts know that volume does wonders. At any time, you are a likely match for a just a few of the companies you contact, and only a small portion of them will be hiring. To increase your shot at employment, send out 1,000 resumes and put the law of averages on your side. If only one percent of companies show an interest, that is at least 10 companies, and you only need one to hire you.

Send Paper, not Email

Sending resumes by email or via a company’s web site is easy. But everyone does that, and so it’s a good way to be ignored. Time to dust off some classic advice: send a paper resume with a cover letter on nice quality stationery. Do some research and find the name of the appropriate hiring manager, or even consider mailing a general manager or the CEO. Email could land you in a spam filter, and the website puts you into the endless queue of the HR department. Paper can land you in front of the decision maker.

Some years ago, one person mailed 1,000 resume and cover letter packages to CEOs and added a sticky note on each resume, addressing the CEO by first name (learned from government filings), telling him or her to check out the resume, and signing the note with initials. It’s an old direct marketing trick that got him a month of interviews followed by 13 job offers –– in a slow market.

Work Social Networks

Recruiters have taken to social networks in a big way. Not only do they make vetting candidates much easier, but they can more readily find the types of talent they want. Put the same techniques to use in your search. Focus on finding the companies you’d like to work for. See if anyone in your network has connections to it and is willing provide an introduction. Also, consider reaching out to people who work for that company and ask them for information on it, as part of your research.

Also, if you are enrolled in, or plan on pursuing an advanced degree program, don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors and classmates to tap into their networks. If you are currently earning an online degree, or a traditional one, expanding your academic network with those with whom you interact on a consistent basis will open doors professionally and personally.