Job Market's Still Tough. Seven Ways to Reenergize Your Job Search

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For America's jobless, the labor market is sending conflicting signals. On one hand, unemployment in December dropped to 9.4 percent, its lowest rate in 19 months, the US Department of Labor reported Friday. On the other hand, a separate Labor survey showed that the economy added only 103,000 jobs, when economists were expecting about 150,000 new nonfarm jobs. What to make of it all? In fits and starts, the economy is staging a very modest recovery, but it may take years before the nation regains the jobs it lost during the Great Recession. To find a job, many unemployed Americans may need to reenergize their own job search. Here are seven ways to do it:

For America's jobless, the labor market is sending conflicting signals. On one hand, unemployment in December dropped to 9.4 percent, its lowest rate in 19 months, the US Department of Labor reported Friday. On the other hand, a separate Labor survey showed that the economy added only 103,000 jobs, when economists were expecting about 150,000 new nonfarm jobs. What to make of it all? In fits and starts, the economy is staging a very modest recovery, but it may take years before the nation regains the jobs it lost during the Great Recession. To find a job, many unemployed Americans may need to reenergize their own job search. Here are seven ways to do it:

#7 Job hunt 9-to-5

The only person keeping tabs on your job search is yourself, and staying motivated and persistent can be difficult when you are not getting results. But what about thinking of the job hunt as a 9-to- 5 job?

Job seekers who devote hours of commitment to their search see more results in finding employment, says career coach Anita Attridge of the Five O'Clock Club, a national outplacement and career coaching organization based in New York. "The job search today is a full-time job - if you are out of work you should be spending 35 hours a week on searching. If you're not working at this full-time, you will have a tough time."

A full-time effort at improving resumes and cover letters, applying to job postings, and researching the demands of your field are crucial.

#6 Stay positive

After a lackluster interview, a moody interviewee sure isn't going to get the job. First impressions matter. Ruining your chances with a sour attitude is no way to enter the job market.

"Attitude is everything," said Ford Myers, president of Career Potential, a career development company with offices in Haverford and Radnor, Pa. "If you are feeling negative and cynical, it will severely damage your chances. Employers can smell your negativity from a mile away."

Easier said then done, when the unemployment rate is so high. Despite a tough economy, the key is to change your mindset and remain optimistic, says Mr. Myers, author of "Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring."

#5 Transform that resume

Standing out in the monstrous pool of resumes with scented pink paper (thanks Reese Witherspoon in "Legally Blonde") is not highly regarded in the real world. Neither is a stale listing of job duties. A star resume and cover letter use action verbs, describing the accomplishments of the candidate in previous positions.

Another way to get to the top of the pile is to include keywords in your resumes and cover letters that correspond to the qualifications of each job description. "Customize your resumes and cover letters, instead of creating one blanket resume that you send out to every single job you are applying to," said Allison Nawoj, career adviser at CareerBuilder. …

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