20 Great Ways to Kick Start Your Job Hunt in 2012

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We've written lots of stories about job hunting throughout 2011 and we got some pretty useful bits of job-hunting advice from experts in a variety of fields. Here are the top 20 pieces of business advice that you can use to start your 2012 job search.

[To read the full article featuring each expert, just click on their name]


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Brett Woodard , director of the Career Development Center at Saint Joseph's University

The holiday season represents the perfect time for college students to "network before they need work" as they search for their first jobs.

"Seize the opportunity to introduce yourself, and engage others by asking about their career," said Woodard. "Share a little about your own career goals, and watch your network multiply before your eyes."

Present yourself as a self-starter

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Tracey Madden , president of McIntosh Staffing Resources

Madden said self-starters often are seen as important members of any successful staff. These individuals know they must work hard in order to realize the satisfaction and sense of achievement they're looking for.

"Individuals that take possession of the outcome of their efforts are more likely to find satisfaction in their job, as well," Madden said.

Ask not what the company can do for you…

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Colleen Aylward, recruitment strategy expert Aylward reminds job hunters to make sure they stress what they can do for the company with which they're interviewing.

"That means defining your strengths and determining specific areas where you can solve their business problems," Aylward said. "And be prepared to demonstrate that you have kept up with technology, industry changes and how the economy has affected them."

Focus on quality social media…

John Martorana, president of Oxford Communications

When Martorana scopes out a candidate's online presence, he looks for people who have engaged influential followers, even if their ranks are relatively small. His company specifically examines who is following a job candidate, the extent to which the candidate interacts with followers and the candidate's track record in shaping the discussions and actions of followers.

"It's not how many followers you have, but what you do with them that counts," Martorana said.

Be ready to talk about your strengths

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Alan Carniol, co-founder of Career Cadence, a job search consulting firm

Carniol says job seekers should be able to discuss the times they were at their best.

"The candidate's response should highlight what they consider their best attributes," Carniol said. "If these attributes aren't a match for what's needed in the job, then this isn't the right person."

Tell them what you can do for them

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Tucker Mays, career coach

Older job hunters shouldn't be afraid to stress to prospective employers that they don't mind working for a younger boss – or to cite examples of times when they enabled a younger superior to succeed, grow and advance his or her own career.

"During an interview, emphasize that you will manage what your boss wants to get done now, so that he or she will have more time to work on what should be done in the future," Mays said. "Also, convey that you are as committed to their success…as your own."

Be flexible on pay

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Bob Sloane, career coach

To compete with younger job seekers, executives over 50 should be flexible with their compensation needs. "You will have a significant advantage over younger job candidates the more you are willing to accept less salary up front in exchange for a greater performance-based bonus," Sloane said. "Companies prefer individuals who are willing to take some risk to prove themselves."

Make it clear that you are a team player

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Pat Goodwin, career coach, executive coach

Goodwin said she looks for employees who demonstrate good sportsmanship by understanding the value of working together and by having a strong sense of being part of the team. She considers "team" an acronym, standing for Together Everyone Accomplishes More.

"They are someone who is willing to give credit where credit is due, are excellent listeners and are willing to take direction," Goodwin said. "They are willing to lead by example and mentor others."

Don't be over-confident

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John West Hadley , career search counselor

Hadley said job seekers should be conscious of what they're saying about their accomplishments, and aim to avoid coming off as a braggart or too much of a self-promoter.

"It's one thing to be quietly confident in what you bring to the table, and to express the results of your work naturally and in context," Hadley said. "It's entirely another to be aggressively pushy about those qualities and results."

Be ready to answer the tough questions

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Steve Penny, hiring consultant

Penny advises prospective employees to be prepared to discuss the type of reference they think their old boss would give them.

"It forces the applicant to answer questions from their former boss’s perspective," Penny said. "They want to get their two cents in before they think you are going to talk to their boss."

Be ready to walk the social media walk

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Richard Laermer, CEO of RLM PR

Laermer said he has learned to differentiate between job candidates who know how to harness social media and those who just spout the words they think he wants to hear.

A candidate who merely feigns social media savvy, Laermer said, is someone who arrives for an interview only to talk about his large Twitter following and his plans to start a blog, but who has yet to follow Laermer's company’s Twitter feed or determine what his blog would cover.

"I don't want to hear how popular [job candidates] are," Laermer said, adding that he prefers candidates who have experimented with a Ning site, used social media to help a client, or deployed it in a way that proves it excites them.

Be an expert

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Sean Koppelmanpresident of The Talent Magnet, an executive recruitment firm

Koppelman said employers are no longer looking for a "Jack of all trades."

"For a number of years, companies and professionals thought that having many skills in many different areas was desirable," he said. "When the employee had to wear many hats due to understaffing, that strategy made sense. But now that many companies are closer to being fully staffed, they want candidates with expertise in a particular area so that they can have an immediate impact on the way the company does business."

Remember that looks count

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Mikki Hebl, professor of psychology at Rice University

Hebl conducted a study that concluded people with facial disfigurements, birthmarks or scars are more likely to receive poor ratings in job interviews. The research also showed interviewers recalled less information about job candidates with facial blemishes.

"The bottom line is that how your face looks can significantly influence the success of an interview," Hebl said. While you can't change your face, the lesson is clear: Whether you like it or not, looks count, so dress appropriately and make sure you're well groomed.

Manage your social media presence

Social Branding
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Michael Fertik , founder and CEO of Reputation.com, an online-reputation consultant

Fertik said job seekers must face the reality that their Facebook page can make a first and last impression on potential employers.

"With the rise of social media sites, the Internet has become an unavoidable character reference," Fertik said. "What you post online gives potential employers insight into how you will fit into their company environment and into the role."

Use video

Jan Wallen, author of the book "Mastering LinkedIn in 7 Days or Less" (Selling Your Expertise LLC, 2011)

Wallen advises job hunters to use their LinkedIn pages to their advantage by adding video content.

"You can showcase your expertise with a video, really differentiate yourself from someone else who does something similar and make it more likely for someone to hire you, bring your company in or do business with you," Wallen said.

Make sure the job is right for you

Make sure the job is right for you
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Polly Black, director of the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest University

Job seekers considering a job with a start-up company need to be asking several questions before accepting the position, including whether the business has any outside investors.

"Ask how much of a burden adding a new person will have on the budget for the year," Black said. " How will they make money to support operations and/or generate profit? If the business launch is delayed, how long could they afford to keep the same staffing?"

Be different

Andy Milligan, a business consultant and co-author of "BOLD: How to be Brave in Business and Win" (Kogan Page, 2011)

Milligan advises potential employees to highlight what separates them from the competition.

"Talk about the 'dramatically different' things you do," Milligan said. "People want good stories, so find the things that are exciting to talk about, and amplify them."

Be careful what you say

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Angela Nielson , president of One Lily Inc., a Web design firm

Nielson warns job seekers to make sure their online presence is not controversial. She recalls a time she thought she’d found the perfect designer and coder for her creative agency, only to find out during a Google search that he had a litany of comments and posts bashing organized religion and its followers.

Nielson called the candidate and asked if he would consider removing some of the posts, saying she feared it would give a bad impression of her company. The candidate declined.

"Suffice it to say, he never became an employee," she said.

Know that people are paying attention to your every social media move

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Miriam Salpeter, social media expert and career coach

Salpeter cautions those after a job not to linger over online games.

"Don't spend time playing Facebook games or taking Facebook quizzes," Salpeter said. "These may give the impression you are not very professional."

Leverage the holidays

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Ford R. Myers, career coach, speaker and author of "Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring," (John Wiley & Sons, 2009)

While many job hunters take the holidays off to celebrate and recreate, Meyers said the season is a wonderful time to kick your search into high gear and, in doing so, gain a competitive advantage.

"Many job seekers don't realize how important it is to perform a search during these months," Myers said. "There is little-to-no competition. Companies are completing their budget planning for the next fiscal year, so it's a great time to get in front of hiring managers. And many executives have to fill openings early in the year or they may lose the budget for that position."