Can you spare a job? Tips for job hunting in a (still) tough economy

Unless you've been vacationing in an alternate dimension for the last two years, you probably know that the economy has been going through a rough period. Along with that, the job market has also been difficult, with new graduates and other job seekers having to work harder to get their foot in the door. Times like these can lead to feelings of discouragement. Here's the good news: (1) A 2012 study shows an improving job environment, and (2) you can improve your own chances by taking positive action. Here are five tips to help fuel your job-finding efforts.

  • Network. You may have heard this before, but it's as true now as ever: It's as much about who you know as what you know. This doesn't mean you have to be "connected" to important or famous people in order to make things happen. It does mean that you should "recruit" your friends and family to help with your job search. Let them know what kinds of jobs you're seeking, and ask them to keep an eye out. You're far more likely to find a job this way than by filling out a random job application online.
  • Avoid resume-killing words. In a crowded field of applicants, the most important thing you can do is make your resume stand out. One of the best ways you can do this is by avoiding overused words — especially ones that could apply to almost any job seeker. Words like responsible, successful, dependable, and team player can be said of anyone with work experience, and violate the "show, don't tell" rule — instead of saying you were successful, for example, describe the success you had.
  • Don't pad your resume. Exaggerating or lying on your resume can be very tempting, but in the age of Google and Facebook it just isn't smart. When a potential employer can check your background and references so easily, including untrue information will lead your resume immediately to the trashcan.
  • Take temporary jobs. If you're having trouble finding a job in your chosen field, taking a temporary position can be a great way to land a full-time gig. A temporary position can lead to a permanent job, and if it doesn't, you've still increased your experience level.
  • Stay positive. Remember that even in a tough economy, far more people have jobs than don't. Furthermore, allowing yourself to get discouraged can slow down your Job-Hunting efforts and make you seem less appealing to potential employers. No one wants to hire a "downer." So keep your chin up, and keep at it — it's the only way to guarantee success!