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Flailing in Your Job Search? Here Are 5 Things You Must Do

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Whether it's been a few years since you last searched for a job or if you're a first-time job hunter, you may be in for a reality check. The job search "game" isn't what it used to be.

Before diving into the deep end of the job-search pool, consider these five tips to increase your chances of success:

1. Take a breath, but don't take a break. Perhaps you just lost your job after a grueling five years working on complex projects for a take-no-prisoners boss. Maybe you received a bit of severance pay and figured that before starting your search, you'd use the money for a well-deserved break. Well, don't. Or, at least, don't take a very long one. Too many people get caught up in the "I've earned the time off, and I can get a job next month after my sabbatical," train of thought. Then, they think they'll send out a few resumes, make a few calls, and voila, a new job will land in a few weeks, or a month or two. When they discover otherwise, they pump their fists and rail against the cold, hard corporate world for making it so hard for them to get a job.

2. Gain traction immediately. The reality is, your job search today will likely take longer than it might have a few years ago. So, the old-school rule of thumb that says expect one month of job search for every $10,000 you earn may actually be expanded six weeks to two months of job search for every $10,000. This isn't the case in every instance of course, but the point is, be prepared for a marathon, not a sprint. So, you should take action quickly after you realize you are in job-search mode to gain traction.

3. Start thinking about your messages. Yes, messages, as in multiple stories. The job search is so much more about marketing yourself now than it ever was, with the advent of social media and the opportunity to communicate globally and in real-time across various platforms. Whether you set up a LinkedIn account, a Facebook profile, a Twitter handle, or Google+ image (or all of the aforementioned), make sure you know who you are and your individual value proposition before you go spraying your words across the walls of these venues like colorful graffiti.

4. Focus. It's not always clear how you will find that focus, but often, it's a series of introspective and active steps that propel you from one stair to the next to the next as you climb that focus ladder to reach a clear view of who you are and why your value offering matters to your target audience.

5. Write your professional story. This writing strategy will be the springboard process for all of your professional communications, from snippets and phrases that you send soaring across your Facebook wall or TweetDeck column, as well as more stories that you tease out into a storyboard resume for more strategic employer submission. Further, this process of articulating your value will equip you for a crisp, powerful conversation, once you are called in for a job interview. If you have trouble writing your professional story yourself, hire someone to partner with you to lend some help.

Conducting a job search can be a daunting undertaking in today's shaky corporate climate. Be prepared to dive in with a healthy, positive attitude and do what you must to maintain your energy, embracing the hard work involved in moving your career to the next phase. Remove yourself from negative environments and surround yourself with positive people and calming influences that will help you sustain the energy and conviction required to achieve job-search success.

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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