Having many interviews with nothing to show for it can be one of the most frustrating things to have to go through. You’re so close to getting a job offer but it just never materializes. If you can get interviews then there’s probably nothing wrong with your job-hunting strategy, your resume or cover letter. The problem could be related to your interviewing prowess or maybe even your references.

You might need to take some time and evaluate your job interviewing process – from everything to your preparation to following up. How much effort do you put into preparing for your job interviews? Do you do your research before the interview and review questions that you might be asked? Your interviewing skills are important, you have to make a good impression when you first meet the interviewer. You have to have a solid connection – with a strong handshake, solid eye contact, and an inviting smile.

One thing to do is bring in samples of your previous work. A portfolio, with supporting documentation, is an excellent way to sell yourself to an interviewer. Make sure to ask questions about the company and the position, you have to be interested in the position or it will show through to the interviewer. There is a lot of gray area when interviewing. You don’t want to overstep your bounds but you also want to show that you have a personality to match your resume. What about after the interview? Do you thank the interviewer or send out a thank you letter afterwards? Following up was once the key to landing a job – now there are many different factors at play.

There are companies that will call all of your references and there are some that will not think twice to hire your without references. If you think your references are holding you back from finding a job, then evaluate your references and see how you can beef them up. Make sure that you ask someone before you put them down as a reference, the last thing you want is having a supervisor from 3 years ago get a call about you and have no idea who you were. If you have references that are not related to the job you’re applying for, you need to update them to match your desired position. Many of these companies will not hire someone if they have old references or if their references don’t match the desired position. Having your McDonalds manager from college as a reference will probably not do much for you when you’re trying to get that CPA job.

Be smart about your references and only use the ones that will benefit you the most. Think about who’s on your references; would any of them have a difficult time explaining you or your past duties? Your references may be holding you back, so evaluate them and see if you can come up with references who will make you shine.

Some states have better economies than others, some have not seen the tremendous job loss and mass exodus that states like California have seen–or my home state of Michigan at 10.5% as of June 2011– and other states have a robust economy with opportunity for job growth. With unemployment averaging over 9.0%, finding the right job can be frustrating and time consuming, but one thing you might consider is looking out of state for employment options. You could find a job that suits your skill set, while allowing you or your family to branch out into a new area.

Yes, it can be scary to pick up and move to a completely new place, but you’ll meet new people and have a new experience that changes your life in a positive way. So how do you know if you should move out of state for employment? Well there are a lot of different things to think about before you decide to move. Take your time when considering the move and try to follow some of the following ideas.

Before you decide exactly where you’re going to move send out some resumes to different business in that area. Pick at least 5 different locales that would suit your job needs and start sending out resumes to them. If you have a degree that’s more popular in one area, you might consider moving to that area to take advantage of higher job growth. If you have a degree in engineering and can not find anything but a servers position, then look at what areas around the country have a high need for engineers. There is a lot of opportunity out there, but you may need to look high and low for it.

Consider contacting a headhunter. If you’re serious about finding employment in a new area, then find a headhunter who knows the city and can find you a position that would match your work experience. A temp agency might be one option but you want to find full time employment and most of these only offer contract work. They can be a good stop-gap option for you while you’re getting your feet wet in the new town, but a lot of people are wary of moving without full time employment.

How do you move when you have a family? One option is to pack early and get all that out of the way. You might want to have your spouse or significant other stay with the children before your start your new job. You should go and get settled before moving the family to you. This allows them to step into their new situation with the house in order and avoids any culture shocks. Make sure you do a lot of research on your new location – read the newspaper online, listen to local radio shows online or just Google your new city. There’s so much information to be found online and you should take advantage of that.

**I am a member of the Career Collective, a group of resume writers and career coaches. Each month, all members discuss a certain topic. This month, we are talking about what job seekers can do now at the half year mark.  Please follow our tweets on Twitter #careercollective. You can also view the other member’s interesting posts at the end of the article.

With summer in full swing and the first half of the year gone already, it’s time to do a little inventory of your job search.

What has worked for you and what hasn’t?

First and foremost take a good, long, honest look at your resume.

What message is it conveying? Is it portraying what you excel in? Is it telling the reader what you can do for them or is it just a laundry list of what you’ve done. Is it focused on the job advertised? Sometimes I get a resume and I think, “Soooo, what does this person want to do??” Be specific and clear. Let the reader know why you are the best choice for the job. Remember, you are your product. You have to sell yourself.

Beef up your networking (especially if you don’t have one).

Have you told everyone of your decision to job search? Friends, family and colleagues? Have you updated your LinkedIn profile? What about other social networking profiles? Time to start creating some. Have you gone to any networking functions? Met any new people? If you haven’t, it’s time to put yourself out there and ‘make some new friends’ as your mother would say. Putting your resume on Monster.com won’t help you land a job.

Consider staying in your existing position – making the most of it.

So, perhaps if you’ve been job searching while still employed, and not having much luck, your existing job is looking better and better. Analyze your current situation. What is it you don’t like about your job? More money? A better boss? Bigger challenges? What is it you want to change? Can you talk with your employer and see if you can work something out? Sometimes staying put has its advantages.

With only a month and a half until September, sit down and write yourself a new strategy for the second half of the year. Having a plan will help you feel more in control of your career and more positive about what is to come.

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4 Summer Strategies to Step Up Your Job Search, @DebraWheatman, #careercollective

Putting Your Job Search Up On The Rack For Inspection, @dawnrasmussen, #careercollective

Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: Are you wasting your time? @GayleHoward, #careercollective

What is your unique value proposition? @keppie_careers, #careercollective

It is Time for Your Check-up Ms/Mr Jobseeker, @careersherpa, #careercollective

Mid-Year Career Checkup: Are You “On Your Game?” @KatCareerGal, #careercollective

How to Perform a Mid-Year Job Search Checkup, @heatherhuhman, #careercollective

Reposition your job search for success, @LaurieBerenson, #careercollective

Mid-Year Job Search Checkup: What’s working and What’s not? @erinkennedycprw, #careercollective

Mid-Year Job Search Check-Up: Getting Un-Stuck, @JobHuntOrg, #careercollective

Mid-Year Check Up: The Full 360, @WalterAkana, #careercollective

5 Tips for Fighting Summer Job Search Blues, @KCCareerCoach, #CareerCollective

Are you positive about your job search? @DawnBugni, #CareerCollective

Where Are The Jobs? @MartinBuckland, @EliteResumes, #CareerCollective

Mid-Year Job-Search Checkup: Get Your Juices Flowing, @ValueIntoWords, #CareerCollective

When Was Your Last Career & Job Search Check Up? @expatcoachmegan, #CareerCollective

Is Summer A Job Search Momentum Killer? @TimsStrategy, #careercollective

It can be difficult to find a job yourself. But, in today’s changing job market, throwing yourself on the fire and doing everything you can in order to find the right job is in your best interest, especially if you want to land the ideal job. Start by finding out what kind of experience and skills you have. Think about the skills that you have which best translate to finding a position that suits you, examine the knowledge you’ve gained and the paths you’ve taken.

Don’t forget about your life outside of work, what are some of the things that you enjoy doing? Perhaps there is an opportunity there that you have overlooked. Even some activities that may seem commonplace can set you apart from your peers in the eyes of a HR manager. For instance, starting your own sports league may show your commitment to organization and communication. So what are some practical job search advice tips?

Leadership

Not just the ability to lead but the ability to bring others together to collaborate on a project and get that project done in a timely manner. Managers want to see leadership qualities in new hires, that’s why they look for people with past experience managing people. If you have that experience, then all the better for you, but if you don’t you should definitely try to acquire some.

Initiative

Now is the time! That’s right, no more resting on your laurels, instead get yourself out there and start looking under every nook and cranny in order to find that job that you want. Don’t be passive in your job search, be proactive and call up HR managers or find out everything you can about your prospective company.

Problem Solving

Be a problem solver. Are you seeing nothing but shady door-to-door sales jobs? Then look somewhere else or just don’t go on those interviews. You know it’s not going to be what they say it is, so why are you wasting your time? Stop immediately and focus on the finding a solution to your problem.

Flexibility

Be flexible and wear as many hats as you can. Some people will tell you that it’s best to focus on one aspect of your career, but if you are multi-talented why not use that to your advantage? If you have multiple skills you should use them to find a job that suits you.

Commitment and Motivation

Be committed to your job search and stay motivated. Of course you will get down, who doesn’t, but that doesn’t mean that you have to let those feelings overwhelm you. Your job search may be on going but if you keep a positive attitude and work through the tough times, you will find something that you want.

Interpersonal Skills

Use that personality. Ask people at social events if they know of anything or ask your friends on Facebook. Don’t be afraid to ask about potential jobs. Sure it’s tough for a lot of people right now but there are still jobs available if you use your personality to find them.

It can be tough to find a job even when the economy is thriving, but during down times it seems almost impossible to find a position that fits. Recessions take their toll on just about every job sector. But, that doesn’t mean you have to be discouraged by the lull in the market. Now is a great time to show your resiliency, improve your skill-set and prove how qualified you are. So how do you begin your job search?

Prepare Yourself

Education is key. It’s a perfect time to take additional courses or go for accreditation in your field. Subscribe to your industries newsletter, find out about upcoming projects, look at what firms are hiring, which market segments are experiencing growth, so that you can target your job search appropriately. Connect yourself. Join online groups like Facebook, LinkedIn or Fastpitch.com. Now is the time to make the internet work for you, make yourself the authority in your field online and you will see the job market expand. It’s imperative to keep up with the changing landscape, so do what you can to stay abreast of trends.

Reach Out and Connect

Your network is the most valuable asset you have, but it’s only strong when you utilize it. Make a list of business associates, friends, owners, coworkers and anyone else that you’ve ever known or done business with. Get yourself out there and let these people know that you are available and looking for work. You may just be the missing piece that their company has been looking for. Until you have one, networking should be your full-time job. Contact friends, family, old school roommates, vendors or anyone else that might allow you to find a job.

Time to be Flexible

Flexibility will help you find a job no matter the economy. However, in a down market, you have to be open to trying different things. Maybe your full-time job will get its start through a small contract position. Some firms are reluctant to hire a full-time position due to fears of failing financially – so getting a contract position could give you an in that you need. Just get your foot in the door and be open to positions that are not related to your work experience.

Always be Prepared

Remember, everywhere you go, no matter if it’s dinner with friends, a social gathering or networking event – it could lead to job opportunities. Finding a job is your job now, so you have to do everything in your power to find a job. There are so many opportunities to work with people who will help you find a job. Who knows, maybe the next person you strike up a conversation with will know of an open position. You don’t know, so you should always be prepared to showcase what you can do.

Try to leave a lasting impression with the people you meet. Many people have found a job just by talking to people they meet at parties or through friends. Keep those eyes open.

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