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Job Hunting - Keys To Making the Kill

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Dear Christine,
I am currently looking for a job and am overwhelmed by the amount of advice there is out there. I feel like I need to read everything to increase my chances of getting a great gig, but I know that's not possible. So I want to know, what is the best job-hunting advice you've ever given?
Overwhelmed with Career Advice, 23, Palm Springs

Dear Overwhelmed with Career Advice,

You ask a great and valid question. With the large amount of career advice available, what is the key takeaway? While it would be near impossible to read all the material out there, many authors and advice columnists tread on similar ground and have common threads in what they advise job seekers.

It's difficult for me to pinpoint just one thing. However, no matter what the state of the job market I think it's key to be well-informed about the job path you are considering. In order to be successful in the job hunt, you have to be focused on what you want and how you want to get there. Where do you want this next job to take you? What kind of environment do you see yourself in ten years from now? Do your research, find people who have the jobs that you want, and ask to speak with them in person or over the phone. By doing an informational interview, the people you meet are generally more candid since you aren't asking for a job and you can gain a lot of insight into whether that field is for you.

I'm amazed that more job seekers do not pursue informational interviews as they are perhaps the most direct way to get valuable, first-person information about a job - and increase your network. When requesting one, be very clear up front that you are not asking for a job or any other favors. Stress that you are simply researching a particular field and would appreciate any first-hand feedback. Be respectful of the individual's time and ask how long they would be available to speak. Have your questions prepared before-hand - be detailed, specific and avoid vague questions like, "So tell me about your job." Do not ask for a job interview or any other favors. Thank the person for their time and have an error-proof resume you can leave behind or ready to email if requested. Send a thank-you note immediately after the interview.

For another opinion on the best job-hunting advice I turned to expert Lauren Hasson, a.k.a. The Resume Girl. Lauren says, "The best advice, which enables you to network anytime, anywhere, is "get carded." What do I mean? Well, you know every professional needs business cards to build relationships and develop their personal network. But what if you're still in college, or just starting out? Why can't you have some kind of card, too? You can, and you should. I call them Personal Networking Cards and you can get them on my web site. They're like business cards, only for college students and recent graduates. It's the perfect way to present yourself as a professional even though you're still looking for a job."

There are so many more pieces of advice that build on one another when it comes to job hunting. The two main points from Lauren and myself are to be informed and to get connected. Beyond that if I can leave you just one more nugget of advice it would be to not become discouraged. The current job market may leave you confused, frustrated, and leads many people down the road to self-doubt. Remind yourself that you are a capable individual because if you don't believe in yourself, no hiring manager will either. Happy hunting!
- Christine
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