Getting ahead in the job search


After years of hard times in the job market, anyone looking to find a job today may see that the prospects have indeed picked up. In fact, the current market may be the best it has been since before the recession, making it an excellent time to polish up your job search skills. 

According to ABC affiliate News 9, the improving conditions could also mean more competition for a single position. If you're feeling more confident about the search, chances are others feel that same confidence. So when it comes to interviewing for jobs, it will be more important than ever to present yourself as a unique candidate in both your demeanor and your cover letter/resume combination.

"An interview is a process of elimination. From the moment you place the job ad to the moment you pick a candidate, you are eliminating people. So, the very most important thing you can do is make sure there is absolutely nothing on your resume that would cause it to go into the garbage," said Mary Zink, a business and economics professor at Morningside College in Iowa.

Zink added that one of the largest missed opportunities for job seekers to show off the skills they've acquired throughout their lifetime is in explaining previous jobs. Even if it doesn't relate to the field you're hoping to break into, she said, there are still many skills you can discuss with staffing companies and recruiters.

"Now, you might have had a job as a server in a restaurant and you might think that that's not going to apply to the career you're going to have in the future, but that's just not true," she said. "When you're a server in a restaurant, you spend your time handling angry customers. And, so you have to be able to stay calm in those situations. And that's a skill that you can transfer to your next job."

Don't forget the cover letter
While it's great to focus on setting yourself apart in the interview, it takes a stellar cover letter to even get that far. According to Forbes, one of the easiest ways to ensure your cover letter isn't a boring read is to take it in a very different direction than your resume. Considering your letter will be either stapled to your resume or found in the same file, it's best to use the resume as a rundown of where you've come from, then use the cover letter to discuss where you want to go.

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