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Tips to Improve Your Career Fitness

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Using the Internet to find a job can feel like walking into a fitness center for the first time. There are so many resources available and so many different "exercises" you can do, it's hard to know where to begin.

And then, of course, there's the matter of time: We never seem to have enough of it. In today's competitive job market, every minute must do its part, so you need to give the highest priority to the things that matter most.

Here is a regimen of specific activities that will shape up your online job search and get it off to a strong start. Think of it as a fitness program for your future.

The time required to complete all of these activities is just 58 minutes. Do one, and you'll improve your job search performance. Do them all, and you'll be well on your way to capturing your dream job.

Pump Up Your Cardiovascular System With an Online Resume

Give your job search endurance.

The heart of your online job search is your resume. It must have the stamina to be visible at all times to the recruiters with the opportunities that you want.

To give your resume endurance, load it up with the right keywords. These words and phrases will help recruiters find your resume when searching online databases.

Which keywords should you use? Those that recruiters use to describe the skills and experience in their job postings.

Also, always include an email address on your resume. And, to protect your privacy, replace your home address and telephone number with a cell phone number. Then you can check messages regularly, even during the business day.

Finally, proofread your resume carefully before you post it and again once it's online. A well written, mistake-free online resume will give your job search the staying power and heart of a champion.

The time needed to post and proofread your online resume: 20 minutes.

Increase Your Mobility With a Job Agent

Add range to your job search.

Job searching can consume a lot of time in an already busy day. How can you hunt for your dream job and still go to work each day, or get the kids to soccer practice, or both?

Sign up for a job agent.

About 40 percent of job boards offer free job agents. Agents enable you to specify the kinds of jobs for which you're looking, but not have to look for them yourself. The job agent compares your specifications to jobs posted on the site and sends you an email when there's a match. You don't have to do any of the work, and your privacy is protected.

Job agents are only as good as the information provided about a desired position. To get the most out of your job agent, make sure you provide as clear and complete a description of your dream job as possible.

The elapsed time to input your job search criteria into a job agent: 8 minutes.

Sharpen Your Acuity With Online Employer Research

Tighten the focus of your job search.

Thousands of employers post jobs online, and each company is a unique organization. To optimize your prospects for success, you must pick an employer that has the right opportunity for you and a management style and culture where you'll be comfortable.

There are several ways you can pinpoint the right employer for you:
  • Ask friends and colleagues to name the two or three best companies in your area.
  • Check the local Chamber of Commerce Web site to see which companies have received awards.
  • Search online to find press releases by and about companies in your area.
  • Check the online archives of your local newspaper to see which companies are making the news.
Once you've identified a few top prospects, visit their corporate Web sites. Many employers now host career sections where you can research their working environment, approach to employee development, reward structure, commitment to diversity and other factors that will determine how well you will fit in.

To get the most out of your visit, look at all of the information that's presented, both in words and in the images on the site.

The time required to identify a few employers for further research: 15 minutes.

Exercise Your Circulatory System With Online Networking

Power up your job search.

Networking is one of the best ways to tap into the hidden job market -- those great employment opportunities that are not advertised.

In the real world, networking can be a time-consuming process. Online, you can meet and communicate with thousands of people with a single email directly from your desktop. You can develop more contacts more easily and access job openings that no one else knows about.

Online networking involves three steps:
  • Pick a place where you'll be comfortable. Join a discussion forum, bulletin board or listserv where the other participants are your professional or industry peers.
  • Be respectful of the online network. Study the group's culture and determine how formal or informal the participants are with one another and how they handle disagreements.
  • Strut your stuff. Participate in the discussion so that you expand your personal visibility and stature among your peers.
To get the most out of your effort, remember the Golden Rule of networking: You have to give in order to receive. Share your knowledge, experience and job search tips with other participants so that they'll be willing to share with you.

The time required to join an online discussion group: 15 minutes.
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