Are you slacking in your job search?

It’s often advised that looking for work should be treated like a full-time job — that job-seekers should literally devote eight hours a day, five days a week to their job searches. While that may seem like a lot of time, some experts believe that — in today’s economy — it’s the only way to get hired.

According to Michael Farr, author of “The Quick Résumé & Cover Letter Book,” the average job seeker spends fewer than 15 hours a week looking for work. Although 15 hours may seem like a great deal of time, it’s quite minimal in comparison to the 25 hours or more that Farr recommends job seekers devote to their search for employment each week.

“The average length of unemployment varies from three or more months, with some being out of work far longer,” explains Farr. “There is a clear connection between how long it takes to find a job and the number of hours spent looking on a daily and weekly basis. The more time you spend on your job search each week, the less time you are likely to remain unemployed. Of course, using more effective job search methods also helps. Those who set aside a solid amount of time for their job search activities and use this time wisely generally secure jobs in half the average time; and they often get better jobs, too.”

Farr suggests that job seekers create a specific daily schedule that keeps them on task and accountable for how their job search progresses. Here is a sample schedule provided in his book.

7–8 a.m.

Get up, shower, dress and eat breakfast.

8–8:15 a.m.

Organize workspace, review schedule for interviews or follow-ups and update schedule.

8:15–9 a.m.

Review old leads for follow-up and develop new leads (want ads, Internet, networking lists and so on).

9–10 a.m.

Make networking or direct employer phone calls, establish Internet contacts and set up meetings and interviews.

10–10:15 a.m.

Take a break.

10:15–11 a.m.

Make more new calls and Internet contacts.

11–12 p.m.

Make follow-up calls and send e-mails as needed.

12–1 p.m.

Lunch break.

1–5 p.m.

Go on interviews and networking meetings, make cold contacts in the field and conduct research for pcoming interviews.

5–8 p.m.

Attend networking events.

How long do you spend on your job search each day?

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Here Is A List of the Top 10 Career Search Websites

One of the most common ways today’s job seekers uncover employment opportunities is by using online sources. There are hundreds of job boards, both generic and niche, as well as aggregators, social media channels, networking groups and staffing company websites to choose from. The good news is they provide plenty of listings. The bad news is you can be easily overwhelmed by so many options. How can you find the best job search websites for you?

We think we can help. Here are 10 of what are generally considered the best job search websites around, arranged in alphabetical order. There are many others, of course, but this list should give you a good starting point for your next job hunt:

CareerBuilder — No list of best job search websites would be complete without this entry. CareerBuilder is one of the biggest job boards, and its robust search function allows you to filter by several criteria, including location, degree required and pay range. CareerBuilder partners with news media around the country and collects job listings from them. It also provides career advice and resources for candidates.

Indeed — A huge aggregator of postings from across the Web, this site consolidates listings from many job boards in one place. It also compiles information from various company career pages and allows you to search locally or globally.

Job.com — This large site offers weekly job alerts, job search advice, a resume builder and, of course, job postings. It also allows you to upload your resume for hiring managers and recruiters to search.

TheLadders — This site focuses on job openings for upper-level executives and professionals who are aiming for the management suite.

LinkedIn — This top networking site enables you to find jobs through your extended network. Additionally, you can join groups, participate in conversations and follow companies you find interesting and relevant to your job search.

LinkUp — LinkUp is one of the best job search websites because it features job postings from more than 40,000 large and small company sites across the U.S. LinkUp is well-known for quickly removing expired posts, keeping fake posts from cluttering up their search results and providing mobile tools so you can search on the go.

Monster — This massive job site is aptly named because it includes one of the largest number of job listings of any website. It also allows you to upload your resume and offers networking boards, as well as a search alert service so you can get targeted posts delivered via email.

Robert Half — Why is our own site included in this list of best job search websites? Because, by visiting roberthalf.com, you can search thousands of job postings from the companies we work with around the world. Many of the opportunities we offer are exclusive to Robert Half and can’t be found elsewhere, online or off. We also offer job search and career advice, a robust library of workplace research and information about what it’s like to work for Robert Half.

SimplyHired — This search engine offers an email alerts service and lets you save your job searches. Candidates can sort their searches to focus on companies that hire veterans, have a high rate of diversity and abide by eco-friendly practices, among other criteria.

Us.jobs — This search site is particularly useful for those looking for state government jobs. It collects postings from state work agencies, as well as other company websites.

After exploring the above list of the best job search websites, you might consider registering with more than one site since each offers a slightly different experience and list of benefits. Good luck!

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14 Great Tips to Help You Find Your Next Job

Concerned about finding your next job? With the current challenges in the U.S. and global economy, it is certainly difficult for many to find a new position. However, don’t despair! Follow these tips to develop your own economic stimulus package to increase your chances of job search success.

  1. Be patient, but have a plan. In a good economy, the average entry‐level job search can take from three to six months. In a poor economy, it takes even longer. There may be fewer opportunities available, and even if they have opportunities, employers may be cautious about filling them because of budget concerns. In addition, the hiring process can be lengthy because there are so many steps involved (the application process…the first interview…several follow‐up interviews…a background or reference check…the offer…the acceptance). Start early to develop your resume and explore opportunities!
  2. Take at least one step daily. It’s easy to kick back after graduation and hope a job will come to you. However, unless your parent owns a company, that tactic rarely works. Be proactive! Develop a list of job search goals. Get a calendar and write one task for each day of the business week, Monday through Friday. Include time to refine your resume, write application letters, attend professional meetings, meet with people, and follow up with employers.
  3. Identify your unique qualifications. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. He or she has a position to fill and is looking for a particular set of skills and/or experience. Take the time to research the position and organization, identify what sets you apart from other candidates, and include the information on your resume. Make certain the employer can see how your skills match the job requirements. If an employer can quickly scan your resume and determine if you’re a fit for the position, the document has done its job.
  4. Get out there. Pointing and clicking at your computer isn’t going to get you a job in this economy. Get out from behind your desk and connect with employers in person. Take advantage of every available opportunity, such as job fairs, campus interviews, and other networking events. A resume can’t tell your whole story to an employer so an in‐person meeting (no matter how brief) gives you an opportunity to provide details about your skills and experience. Show that you’re a professional (in attitude, appearance, and behavior), and let your personality shine. Employers tell us that face‐to‐face situations help them to confirm if a candidate will be a good fit for the job and organization.
  5. Be persistent. “Help Wanted” signs may be few and far between, but there are jobs out there-you may have to find them. Be persistent, follow up with employers that interest you, and be professional. In the current economy, you may need to apply for a broader variety of jobs, including jobs for which you may feel under‐qualified or over‐qualified. The key is to get your foot in the door, build your skills, network, and be ready for the economic upswing.
  6. Network, network, network. Since many jobs are never advertised, networking is one of the best ways to find employment. Of course, building a network means that you have to talk with people, whether you know them or not. Start with family members, friends, neighbors, co‐workers, and professors until you begin to feel more comfortable. Then attend professional organization meetings in your field and get involved so you can expand your network. Share your career interests, geographic preferences, and other pertinent information. Ask, “Who do you know that would know about finding a job in [list your field of interest]?” Eventually, one contact will lead to another, and another, and so on!
  7. Look for “hidden” jobs. The majority of opportunities are filled before they are announced publicly. Your challenge is to find out where those jobs exist. Use your network to inquire about opportunities and get some leads. Then target an organization and a department where you are interested in working. Research it through publications and people connected with the organization, such as vendors, customers, and employees. Identify the person (usually a manager) who makes hiring decisions for the department. Get yourself introduced, or make contact through email, a phone call, or a personalized letter. Inquire about current or upcoming opportunities. If you learn about a position, ask how to formally apply for it. In addition to the formal application, send a thank‐you letter to the manager and include your resume. Follow up each application with a telephone call to the recipient to make sure your application was received.
  8. Volunteer your time and skills. Even if you’re not working full‐time, you can continue to hone your skills and gain experience by volunteering. If you are actively engaged in community service or volunteer work, keep it up! If you aren’t, now is the time to get involved. In addition to contributing your time and talents to a worthy cause, you will meet people who may be good sources of job information. Most nonprofit organizations have a board of directors and volunteers that are accomplished and successful in their own careers. Tap into this network of individuals to obtain job search advice and identify possible opportunities.
  9. Consider temporary work. The role of an employment agency is to help employers successfully fill open positions by assessing and submitting the best candidates. In addition, the employment agency serves as an advocate for the candidates with whom they work. An agency recruiter works with you to review your resume, assess how professional and marketable you are, determine the level of your interviewing skills, and help you to represent yourself well in an interview. You shouldn’t have to pay a fee for this service; work only with employment agencies that charge a fee to employers, not job candidates. Ask other individuals to recommend reputable employment agencies that work with employers in your field of interest. Meet with a representative to ask questions that will help you determine if the agency can provide the quality services that
  10. Expand your search geographically. It may be scary moving to another location; however, the more willing you are to expand your search geographically, the more likely you are to increase the number of opportunities in your field. Some areas of the country have been hit less hard than others. Subscribe to the Sunday edition of a city’s newspaper or locate the online version to learn about advertised jobs, housing costs, and other information that will help you to determine the local job market. Access the chamber of commerce’s Website to become familiar with businesses and other organizations in the area that may be hiring. Contact real estate agencies to obtain information on the hiring climate and economy as well as get help in finding a new place to live.
  11. Consider recession‐proof industries. While some industries in the private sector are tightening their belts,
    others continue to remain stable. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, industries such as health care, government, education, and information technology continue to provide strong prospects. Research these industries to determine which positions will allow you to apply your skills and experiences.
  12. Log on. LinkedIn has become a valuable tool for learning about job opportunities, connecting with people in your profession, and learning about trends and opportunities in the field. You can be in contact with large numbers of people while determining how engaged you want to be, from just listening to the discussions to posting to the conversations.
  13. Clean up your profile. Your online image is just as important as your face‐to‐face image. When you invite people into your Facebook network, you are linking to their networks, the people they have in their networks, and so on. You never know what employers are checking the sites for information on you as a potential candidate so professionalism is critical. In addition, you should be selective about the people you invite into your network because what they say about you could impact whether you get a job or not.
  14. Keep a record. Since job hunting can take weeks or months, it is helpful to maintain a record. Keep track of the contact information for individuals in your network and prospective employers. Include deadlines, actions taken, and results. In addition, keep copies of job descriptions, applications submitted, and correspondence sent. Use a notebook, database, and/or calendar so your job search is organized and efficient. Review the information daily to determine if there are steps that need to be taken and to see how much you have accomplished.
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7 Job-Seeking Tactics You Probably Haven’t Tried

When out of work, many job-seekers’ first instinct is to go straight to online job boards. When you consider the sheer number of job boards out there, and the amount of people trolling them, it’s easy to feel like you’re lost in a crowd of well-qualified applicants, long before you actually upload your resume and hit “submit.”

“Once a job is posted online, the company is going to receive anywhere from 200 to 1,000 applications,” says Donald Asher, the author of the new book, Cracking the Hidden Job Market: How to Find Opportunity in Any Economy. “You can win in a stack of eight to 10, but not in a stack of 1000.”

The key, Asher says, is connecting with people at the work-unit level before they decide to expand.

“It’s easier than ever to make those connections and reach out to strangers,” says Asher, so don’t rely solely on tired job-searching tactics. “Telling someone to join their college’s alumni group is like telling someone to shine their shoes before they go to a meeting,” says Asher. “It’s common sense, and it’s not enough anymore.”

The information in Asher’s book is for the job-seeker that has tried all of the “common sense” approaches and still can’t find work. Here are a few of the tips he offers.

  1. Write an ‘I’m On the Market’ Speech

“Part of being a careerist is coming out to your inside circle,” says Asher. “Many people are reluctant to admit that they’re on the market, but they have to get past that.”

One of Asher’s clients hadn’t shared with his closest friends that he was seeking a new job for more than a year after being out of work — and a number of them worked in his industry. After telling them his situation, he re-launched his job search, and ultimately landed a job in his field at his desired pay rate, through an introduction made by his golf buddy.

“Sharing your employment status is simply not optional,” says Asher.

  1. Start a ‘Stone Soup Club’

“This is literally a potluck that you set up with people in your industry, at your level, and unemployed or job-seeking,” says Asher. If you got laid off with a number of your colleagues, or have friends of friends in the business who are in a similar situation, that’s the perfect place to start. “No one wants to socialize across socioeconomic lines,” says Asher.

The barriers to entry? A food item, and a handful of job leads that aren’t right for you, but might suit someone else in the club. Set up the meeting for a Friday afternoon, says Asher: “No one is going to get a job on a Friday afternoon, so you’re not taking away from your job search.”

  1. Get Past Screening Software

While it’s still valuable to include a few of the key skills listed in a job description within the text of your resume, Asher says that resume screeners have upped the ante on search terms. “No one searches for ‘good manager,’” he says.

Take postings apart, look for unusual words, and put those in your resume. And don’t stop there. Everything from competitors’ names to zip codes are fair game, as long as you’re creative about working them in.

For example, if you’re in California looking for a job in Miami, call up your long-lost cousin that lives in the Sunshine State and ask for permission to borrow their address for your resume. It’s tricky, but inserting a simple “care of” before the address can make an exclusive search for local candidates work in your favor.

  1. Don’t Hate on Temp Work

“The contingent work force is now, measurably, 10% of all employment,” says Asher. “Take those part-time, temporary, and contract assignments seriously — about a third of newly created jobs are contingent when they’re first created.”

If you take a temp job that the company decides should be a permanent position, and you’ve done a good job, chances are the company will save themselves the manpower and resources for a talent search, and ask you if you’re willing to stick around on a longer-term basis. Money from a temp staffer’s paycheck isn’t any less green than money from a full-timer’s.

  1. The Postcard Technique

If you have a few extra dollars you’re willing to invest in your search, Asher suggests utilizing the postal service. Write a letter to the companies you’d like to apply to — describe yourself and what your career goals are — and send it in an envelope with an addressed, pre-paid, personalized postcard inside. (That’s right, no resume.)

On the postcard, give the recipient three options: send the postcard back with their contact information; send the postcard back with the contact information of a colleague who can best help you; or send it back with a dismissal — which, Asher says, is still a positive. You know not to waste any more time trying to connect.

  1. Send an Updated Resume

Another of Asher’s clients developed a list of 400 executives in her field, found their e-mail addresses, and sent her resume to all of them. Two weeks later, she followed up from her initial e-mail with a second one, leading with “I have updated my resume since we last had contact.”

“I would never advise anyone to tell a lie,” says Asher — and while her change was minimal at best (she added or removed her middle initial), the principle is an excellent one. If you take on a new project, think of a way that would strengthen the wording of your past experience, or finish up a temp assignment, add it to your resume, and send it out. Within a few weeks of her project, Asher’s client had gained a wealth of new connections, leads, and interviews from people who started to believe they knew her personally.

  1. The Three-Shot E-mail System

Most job-seekers have probably felt the disappointment from getting no response to an e-mail. Asher advises to be persistent.

“If you’re willing to e-mail people once, you should be willing to e-mail them at least three times,” he says. The system goes as follows: E-mail them. Wait three days, and e-mail them again. Wait four days, and re-work the subject line: “Dr. Wilson, I may not have an accurate e-mail address for you….”

Still no response? Assume you have the wrong e-mail address. Find a new one, and try, try again.

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20 avoidable job search mistakes

The phrase “shoot yourself in the foot” didn’t create itself. Although it didn’t originate with job seekers, it might as well have.

Every day, thousands of people look for a job, and almost every one of them makes at least one mistake in the process. The worst part is, many of these blunders are avoidable.

“It never ceases to amaze me when people make mistakes, then slap themselves on the forehead and say, ‘I can’t believe I did that.’ I feel the need to pop them on the head,” says JaLynn Hudnall, of Georgia-based Ravenwood Forest Consulting, a business consultancy.

Here are 20 dumb job-search mistakes that experts say you can avoid with a little thought:

  1. Not using a professional e-mail address.

“It is wonderful that you are proud of your heritage and cultural roots. However, please don’t use ‘juicygapeach’ as your e-mail address,” Hudnall says. “There are enough free e-mail hosts out there that you can set up a plain first.last account that is professional and nondescript.”

  1. Jumping into the fire without your fireproof undies.

“[Don’t start] your search without a plan or much thought as to where you want to go and how you plan to get there,” says Julie Bauke, author of “Stop Peeing On Your Shoes: Avoiding the 7 Mistakes That Screw up Your Job Search.” Also, make sure you can answer these three key questions: Why are you in the job market? Tell me about yourself. What are you looking to do next?

  1. Not checking your appearance in the mirror before walking into an interview.

“I once interviewed someone who had a giant piece of lettuce hanging off his mustache,” says Mario Schulzke, founder of CareerSparx.com, which provides online career training. “I should have said something to him, but it was just too awkward and instead I spent 30 minutes staring at the guy’s upper lip.”

  1. Falling into the ‘black hole.’

Many job seekers misunderstand the role of the Internet in their job search, Bauke says. “It is good for research and connections,” she says, but “you are not most likely to get a job that way.”

  1. Being forgetful.

“One mistake that I have seen a number of times over the years is people using a cover letter template and forgetting to change the company and name to who it is addressed,”says Paul Peterson, a national “talent resource” manager. “Your cover letter should always be customized to the company and position to which you are applying.”

  1. Going to networking events — but not really networking.

“Real networking is building mutually beneficial relationships,” Bauke says. That can be hard to do in a group setting. “Make sure you are having at least three to five one-on-one meetings per week.”

  1. Omitting a signature block in your e-mail.

“A signature block is a perfect place to give a brief 20-word teaser and include a link to your online résumé,” Hudnall says. For example, “Georgia environmental engineer with seven years experience, seeking job in new locale, click here for full résumé.”

  1. Casting your net too widely.

“You are not a fit everywhere and you are not good at everything,” Bauke says. “Your search will be much more effective if you focus on exactly what kind of work you want to do and where you want to do it.”

  1. Not paying attention.

“Job seekers aren’t reading the job description carefully and following the specific directions provided by the employer, recruiter or hiring manager,” says Eddy Salomon, founder of WorkAtHomeNoScams.com and WorkAtHomeCareers.com. “The job description may state, ‘Please apply by visiting x site. Please do not send a résumé.’ But many job seekers are guilty of scanning the information provided and will end up doing the opposite of what has been described and send a résumé. Employers can’t help but disqualify these candidates because it shows a lack of attention to detail and the failure to follow directions.”

  1. Overlooking the interviewing “gimme” questions.

Prepare to answer the basics questions: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Tell me about yourself. Why should we hire you? “You know they are coming. Be prepared,” Bauke says.

  1. Not joining your local Chamber of Commerce.

“Every chamber across the United States has a monthly get-together usually called something like ‘Business After Hours,’ and many even have young professionals associations,” Hudnall says. “Not using this as an opportunity to network and meet others in your field is a missed opportunity.”

  1. Having grammar or spelling errors on your résumé or cover letter.

“No matter how many résumés you send out, each customized to fit one job description, you must review each one closely for grammar and spelling errors,” says Rick Saia, content writer for Massachusetts-based Pongo Résumé, which provides résumé and cover letter templates. “Even the tiniest error will cast a bad impression on the hiring manager, especially if you write ‘attentive to detail’ as a strength. It’s good practice to have a trusted friend or relative read through your documents before you send them.”

  1. Not being mindful of your social media presence.

“Job seekers need to be mindful of social profiles and pictures they may have out on the Web that may be deemed inappropriate. In some cases, employers may secretly try to ‘friend’ you on a given social network so they can have access to your wall and photos,” Salomon says. Before applying to any job, search for your name to ensure nothing is out there that would be deemed inappropriate.

  1. Trying to turn an informational interview into a job interview.

“This is probably the worst form of abusing your network contacts. An informational interview is to get information, not an offer,” says Ron Katz, author of “Someone’s Gonna Get Hired … It Might As Well Be You!” “When people start peppering the contact to see if there are any openings or jobs available, the person with whom they are meeting feels duped, taken advantage of and, at worst, angry and resentful.”

  1. Not having a LinkedIn profile.

“Many employers and HR professionals use LinkedIn as their go-to resource for more information about a candidate,” Schulzke says. “If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you are missing out on a critical opportunity to showcase your skills and experience.”

  1. Failing to research the company.

“At least take some time to review the company’s website and use some of that knowledge in your résumé and cover letter,” Saia says. “When you get to the interview, you’ll need to know much more, especially to show how your skills and experience match up with the demands of the job and how your skills and experience can benefit the company.”

  1. Not following up after applying for a job.

“Following up is critical to set you apart from other applicants. Job seekers often neglect this key step because, for example, they applied online and don’t have a name to follow up with,” says Amy Olmscheid,manager of the career center at Capella University, an online university based in Minneapolis. “But if you don’t have a name of a person to follow up with, find one. Use the Internet or use your network. Get the name of a contact in human resources or a manager in the department you want to work in and then follow up with a call or e-mail.”

  1. Neglecting to follow up after an interview.

“Always send a thank-you note to the interviewer,” Olmscheid says. “Sending your note by e-mail is perfectly acceptable, but a handwritten note is a nice extra touch.”

  1. Failing to ask questions at the interview.

“Remember that you want to find out about the company and hiring manager as much as you want to tell them about you,” Saia says. “By passing on the opportunity to ask questions, you’re sending a message that you’re not that interested in the job. And employers want candidates who are interested.”

  1. Relying on a single job-hunt strategy.

“Some job seekers will declare that they are only using online job boards, and those individuals may miss excellent opportunities,” Olmscheid says. “Job seekers typically identify more jobs and make more connections that can lead to jobs when they use a multipronged approach. Amp up your job search with job boards, face-to-face meetings, networking at professional development meetings, phone networking and other search strategies.”

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