The Ultimate Guide to Job Searching

If you've recently lost your job or are considering making a change, you may want to jump right into your job search. But before you start, you need a plan. Have you thought about these first steps?

1. Create an accomplishment-focused resume.

Don't just slap your most recent company name, job title, and laundry list of "job duties" on your old resume and call it an update. Take the time to think more strategically about your background and the value you offer employers. Prove your abilities and potential by communicating strong stories of past career success. Check out AOL Jobs' Ultimate Guide to Resumes and our resume samples for more detailed tips.

2. Reach out to your network.

Most people get jobs through people they know. Contact family, friends and colleagues, and think about the people in your inner circle who may have fallen off your radar but may be able to help you in your search. Reestablish connections first before asking for any help or advice pertaining to your job search. Take a look at AOL Jobs' Ultimate Guide to Networking for more suggestions on building a powerful network.

3. Embrace social media.

Tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can jump-start a job search and quickly connect you to people, their friends and colleagues. Make sure you have built out your profiles on these sites completely and update your status regularly to remain engaged in the communities. Learn more about LinkedIn.

4. Study up for your interviews.

Preparation is key. A great way to prepare for interviews is to write down your work success stories. Quantify your stories whenever possible by proving how you helped the companies you supported make money, save money, save time, eliminate redundancies, improve processes, grow the business, or keep the business. Then review typical interview questions and make decisions as to which stories best match the competency required in the interview question. Read AOL Jobs' Ultimate Guide to Interviewing for more tips on how to prepare.

5. Know your market value.

Many people use their past salary as the benchmark for determining future salary. But all a previous salary represents is what someone was willing to pay you to do a particular job at a particular point in time. This salary is irrelevant to your future earning potential. Research your market value using a salary survey tool such as Payscale so you will be prepared when asked questions about your salary expectations.

6. Get organized.

During a job search you accumulate a lot of information on people and contacts. You may have multiple versions of your resume, assorted leads, job-related websites, important articles, business cards, etc. Use a contact management tool such as Jibber Jobber to keep your information organized.

7. Keep a journal.

Journaling is a great way to record how you are feeling during your search and examine the trends that could be indicators of what is working in your search and what is not. Some even turn their journals into blogs to create a following and make new friends and contacts as they chronicle their unemployment experience.

8. Volunteer.

Find a cause you are passionate about and volunteer for a role that allows you to create visibility in front of the decision makers in this volunteer community. You never know who these people may know and what types of introductions they may be able to make for you. And volunteering helps you feel needed and reminds you of all you have to be grateful for.

9. Upgrade your look.

This is not an indulgence. The little details like your hair and nails count during a job search. And it can be rejuvenating to get a new hairstyle or experiment with a new nail color. Clothes are important as well. Purchasing a new scarf, tie, hair piece, or handkerchief can change up the interview suit you are tired of wearing and give you a renewed sense of confidence.

10. Find inspiration.

Books by Harvey Mackay and Keith Ferrazi have provided inspiration for millions of job seekers over the years. Check out some of their titles at your local library.

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