Job Hunting: Separating Fact From Fiction

04/12/2013 05:23 pm ET Updated Jun 12, 2013

I'm trying to sort out the myths from common sense advice as I look for work. We're all hearing about the sluggish economy and unemployment numbers. Some of the news is good, some a little more dicey and then there are the stats that seem to get pulled like taffy and twisted into different shapes depending on who's quoting them. It's hard to know what to think, but I know that I need more work. Here's a list of some of what I've learned about trying to land a job and the search itself.

1. Looking for work is harder than actually working. I wish I'd kept track of all the hours I've spent revising my resume, searching job sites and writing cover letters rife with keywords. There are also all the hours I've spent researching companies online before even submitting my application. It's a lot of work. I dutifully scroll through every job search email that pops up in my inbox. Just when I think I've got all the settings right, I find more jobs I'm woefully unqualified for. It's important to focus. I'm having more success now that I've honed in on the types of positions I really want and am qualified for. It's quality over quantity.

2. Let friends know you're looking for work. Think about it this way -- you'd help a friend if you could, so reach out. I did get one sweet part-time position through a friend's recommendation. I also scored a solid interview and a freelance gig through other personal contacts. Stuart Lander, CMO of CareerArc Group, had this to say:

One of the most impactful points we find is how much more likely you are to get hired if you are referred for a job opportunity. On average, one in 219 people get hired when they apply directly through a job board but one in 10 get hired when they are referred. That's why if you can leverage a social referral tool (like CareerArc Group's Who? Button) that is integrated into our TweetMyJobs, Internships.com and CareerBeam platforms you have a much better chance of landing your dream job.

More than one person confirmed this for me in my research. Eva Smith of Tech Food Life confirmed that she's found this to be especially true in the tech sector. This all ties into networking via social media, but more on that later.

3. It's easier to get a job when you're already working. Erdolo Eromo is a Sr. VP at Payvia, a leading mobile and online payments company. He landed his position when he was working at the Cheesecake Factory. He served the CEO of Payvia with such aplomb that phone numbers were exchanged and his good fortune secured with this top company. He's gone from restaurant worker to being considered the cornerstone of Payvia's global sales and marketing structure. He's an expert in identifying trends in the mobile commerce space. I'm ready to believe it's not a myth that work begets work.

4. Be ready to handle disappointment. I spoke with Catalina Juarez, an LA blogger who has been looking for work for four years after a 13-year gap in her career. She's reached out, tried to reinvent herself by applying her skills to other fields. Her persistence has to pay off at some point and when it does, think of the resilience she's developed. It seems that would make her a great hire. Her advice?

Learn how to best manage rejection fast. Have a plan set-up in times when the rejection begins to beat on your ego. I usually let myself cry. Then pick myself up by doing something creative or creating something with my hands: cooking, photographing, reading or writing.

5. Figure out how LinkedIn and other social media sites really work. (Has anyone actually gotten a job from Craig'slist?) In getting advice from other job seekers and headhunters, keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. Potential employers will check your resume against your profile and look to see whom you're connected to. Another important tip came from K. Pearson Brown at Whyq, a global lifestyle, marketing and brand consultancy firm. She's learned that:

Social media is essential in the modern job hunt, as well as SEO skills. Today, search bots filter out applicants' resume based on repetition of keywords, so your resume may never even make it to a live person to review if you don't use the right search terms ... With unemployment so high in California, many unemployed fill out applications merely to meet the three contacts with employers each week, requirement even though they do not have minimum skills or background for the position. Filtering bots are a necessary tool to weed out these irrelevant applicants.

After looking for months, I've got something of an anxious rhythm going. I'm ready for a new pattern to my days. I know this will all pay off, but I'm really eager to say thank you and unsubscribe from the job search sites.

What are some of your best tips in job hunting? It's not exactly that we're all in this together because there's a lot of competition for every job listing, but maybe if the underdogs unite to help each other something good will come from it.