Sunday, January 3, 2010

Getting Back in Shape for the Job Chase

THE beginning of this new year — after a very difficult 2009 for job seekers — offers a good opportunity to review and fine-tune every element of an employment search, from résumés to thank-you notes.

While you may be doing almost everything right, neglecting or mishandling just one or two pieces of the process could keep you from getting a job, especially in this ultracompetitive market.

Here, then, is a checklist that covers some of the major links in the job search chain:

THE RÉSUMÉ When was the last time you took a word-by-word, letter-by-letter look at your résumé? Make sure it’s completely up to date and tailored to the types of jobs you are seeking. (After all, your situation might have changed since you started looking.) Now is also the time to create alternate versions, to reflect different types of positions.

Have someone else look at your résumé. If you cannot afford a career coach, give your résumé to friends or family members to scrutinize, said Alison Doyle, a job search specialist for, which is owned by The New York Times Company.

Little things count. You could have overlooked a typo or another error. This happens more than you might think, and “it can knock you right out of the running,” Ms. Doyle noted.

And have copies of your résumé printed, so you’re ready to hand them out at interviews, she said.

REFERENCES If you have not talked to your references lately, call or e-mail them. Make sure they are still in the same jobs, and tell them you’re still looking. This helps expand your network, because references may know of job openings. It’s also a good time to consider whether to add or remove some people as references.

COVER LETTERS Maybe you’ve set up a few basic templates in advance, but that’s not enough. Each cover letter you write should be geared specifically to the job for which you are applying.

WARDROBE Check your closet to ensure that you have appropriate professional attire, including shoes, ready for interviews.

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