Create a Network
Think of your friends as an instant job-hunting network that can provide ideas, advice and contacts you need. Then, branch out to family and former colleagues, says Robin Ryan. Tell everyone you know you're on the hunt and ask them for names of acquaintances that might be able to help you. Go on as many informational interviews as you can possibly manage. True, there may be no openings, but you'll have made an in for when a position is available. The person you're interviewing with may very well know others in their industry that you should also talk to. Plus, you'll brush up your interviewing skills.
Target Your Search
Although it's tempting to answer dozens of want ads and send your résumé to everyone you know, the quality of your applications, not the quantity, is what will get you results, says Robin Ryan. "You can spend 20 or 25 hours a week looking for a job—after that you're wasting your time," she adds.
Determine the industries and businesses you're most interested in (and best qualified for) ahead of time and concentrate on those contacts and openings first. Remember, targeting also means adding a personal touch. Always send a well-tailored cover letter with your résumé—no form letters or mass mailings.
Use the Internet Wisely
Sites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com can give you a great sense of what types of openings are available and what kind of salary range you can expect. And, it certainly can't hurt to answer ads that appeal to you. But answering blind ads shouldn't be the bulk of your search, says Susan Strayer. So often you hear nothing back. Posting your résumé on these sites can also be a waste of time. Better to look for openings on the websites of companies and industry associations that you're interested in.
It generally takes three to six months for people to find a job, says Robin Ryan. The wait can be frustrating, but the process gives you a chance to really evaluate what kind of job is right for you.