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5 Must Haves For an Always Ready Job Seeker

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

You can still use an axe to cut down a tree, but with the advent of chain saws, why would you? This may be an option if physical activity is the driving force versus actually felling the timber. The choice of equipment where your job search is concerned also depends on your real goals. Now, you may be thinking to yourself: "That's silly; of course my 'real goal' is to get a job."

Are you certain? If so, search any jobs site and fill in the blanks of the application for any job you feel qualified to do, and you will most likely get a job.

However, if your goals are to secure more than a job, this approach will likely leave you less than satisfied.

To find a career that falls in line with your personal passion, education, and future goals, it may be time to break out some heavy equipment like those listed here:

1. A real resume. Not a menu of items notating dates and positions held, but create a three-dimensional document that truly represents who you are as a professional. Whether you are a 50-year job-force veteran or a freshly minted graduate, this document can put you where you want to be, versus where you have to be--especially when properly executed.

2. A cover letter. Used in conjunction with a well-written resume, this piece of your career portfolio acts as a synopsis for the resume. It's designed to whet the reader's appetite and give them a glimpse of whom they are about to be introduced to in the resume. Think about the last time you picked up a book and read the brief snapshot on the back cover. If this "snapshot" was compelling, you bought the book; if not, you most likely returned it to the shelf and continued to shop until you found one that was. Keep that in mind when you write your cover letter, or your "book" may never get read.

3. A LinkedIn profile. Today's top companies rarely, if ever, publicly advertise their openings. Instead, they are more likely to go in search for a candidate using this tool. And why wouldn't they? Here, by just typing in a few keywords or phrases, they can pull up any number of candidates that fit their criteria and save themselves from wading through countless unqualified job seekers. If you want to be found, you need to be found on LinkedIn.

4. A biography narrative. Top hiring managers and recruiters are increasingly asking for this valuable document. It is designed to give them insight about a candidate on a more personal level. This narrative gives the candidate an opportunity to tell his or her own story in addition to the career-related material found in the resume. It is a conversational piece that will allow you to not only weave in your career feats, but also answer questions about beliefs and convictions that have led to your success thus far. It is punctuated with personal stories of accomplishment that may not be suitable for other career portfolio documents. The value of this information from the employer's standpoint is one of making certain the candidate fits the "culture" of the company.

5. A polished interview style. What a shame to have spent time on a brilliant career document portfolio only to lose out on your opportunity during the interview process. You can attribute this to stage fright, shyness, or any number of other maladies, but it is generally no more than a lack of practice. You know the interview process will be a big part of the hiring procedure, so do yourself a favor and prepare.

Learn some things about the company you're applying to so you can calmly respond when it comes up (and it will come up). Use videos of yourself or simply practice in front of a mirror to remove body language that may belie your sincerity. Consider interview coaching if your lack of skills are more than you can correct on your own. Many online resources are available as well to give you an idea of the type of questions you may face to better prepare yourself with smooth responses.

So, there you have it. Will it be the axe or the chain saw? It's up to you, and your career goals strongly depend on your answer.

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally.

Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog.

Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.

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