Q: I’m a recent graduate and this job market isn’t so kind. How do I land a job in a crowded market? 


A: Landing a job in today’s tight market requires more than a little bit of patience, perseverance and digital detective work. Here are a few strategies to help land a great job.

Focus, focus, focus: Make sure your experience — and your resume — convey that you are highly qualified for the job you seek. That means forgoing the shyness and tooting your own horn. Highlight awards and other accomplishments that show your ability to go above and beyond what’s required for the position. This helps your resume stand out in a sea of sameness.

Do your homework: Carefully read the job description for the position you seek as well as similar ones posted online. Use that information to refine your resume so that your skills match the buzzwords recruiters seek. Be prepared to trim any fat. Experience on the school newspaper may sound impressive, but if the work doesn’t closely relate to the position you want, cut it. Remember, recruiters and potential employers are looking to fill a void. Clearly and concisely convince them that you are the best candidate. Think about “American Idol” contestants; you have only a few seconds to make a lasting impression.

Streamline your resume: Several employers rely on internal job submission applications to help cull resumes. Make sure your resume makes the cut by using basic fonts and maintaining a simple format that is easy to cut and paste. Be sure to preview your resume on the company site because files often get jumbled.

Invest in the buddy system: Make sure that every word on your resume is spelled correctly and ask an eagle-eyed friend to review your handiwork. Offer a reward for finding any errors that could cost you a great job.

Create or modify your LinkedIn profile: Recruiters rely on sites like LinkedIn to identify and vet job candidates. Make sure that your profile is up to date, including the photo. Then start doing a little digital detective work to identify colleagues with links to the company where you want to work.

Work the Net: Join professional associations related to your field and visit their sites regularly. Membership has its privileges in the form of networking opportunities as well as job tips. Be sure to monitor those groups using all social media channels, including Twitter. Believe it or not, you can land a job by making the most of those 140-character posts. Show that you are plugged in to your profession by posting stories and joining the conversation on LinkedIn.

Prepare for the interview: Rather than recite your resume, focus on three key accomplishments that directly relate to the job at hand. Share stories about projects you managed and any challenges you overcame.

Master the follow-up: Send a customized thank-you note to each person you met during the interview. This is an opportunity to underscore your strengths and possibly build a connection for the future. Even if you don’t get the job, taking the time to send a thank-you note speaks volumes and may just put you in the running for another position with the company.

Don’t be deterred by rejection: Finding the right job takes more than a little trial and error. Just remember that you want to find the best fit. If a company rejects you, don’t be afraid to seek feedback on ways to strengthen your work. Ask to be considered for future positions and stay in touch. You might just be the perfect person for a different job with the company. Remember, perseverance can pay off in the end.

— Morieka Johnson

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