By Karen Burns

Special to Seattle Times Explore!

Don’t overlook the obvious when looking for a new position.

Sure, the internet has forever altered — and widened — the job-search process, but the basic guidelines for landing work remain very much the same. So let’s review:

1. You can’t find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So before starting any job hunt, you need a clear idea of what you want to do, where you want to do it and whom you want to do it for. It will take research, soul-searching and perhaps the help of a mentor or career coach, but being able to target your job search will save you time in the long run.

2. Don’t limit your job hunt to filling out online applications. While it makes you feel as if you’re doing something, it’s rarely cost effective in terms of time and energy. Aim to spend most of your day on real-world efforts. Yes, this means networking and perhaps even cold calling.

Research the person who will be interviewing you ahead of time — perhaps you have a hobby or background in common. (Getty Images)

3. Customize your résumé to fit each position you apply for. Fortunately, this is pretty easy: Study the words and phrases in the description of the job you’re going after and echo them in your résumé. When listing your achievements, choose those relevant to the job you’re seeking.

4. Treat searching for a job like a job. Let’s face it, looking for work is difficult, oftentimes more difficult than an actual full-time position. So you’re going to need to use all your skills. Set daily goals. Maintain a regular schedule. Find ways to stay positive. Consider joining a job search support group.

5. Learn about the history, products, services and mission of each company you apply to. Google the people you’ll be speaking with — perhaps you have a hobby or background in common. Figure out what questions you’re likely to be asked and practice answering them, especially the toughest ones. Pro tip: Some interviewers ask applicants what they’ve done to prepare. Be ready with your answer.

6. Finally, an oldie but goodie: Write thank-you notes after interviews. It’s so easy to do, and so surprising that many people don’t bother. One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to follow up with the interviewer afterward (extra points for referring to something specific you discussed).


Karen Burns is the author of “The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use.”