Think you’re ready for a New Year’s job search? It’s entirely possible that your methods aren’t keeping pace with the times.

Despite an abundance of great job-hunting advice, many candidates cling to outdated job search and resume writing practices that negatively impact their success.

If you’ve continued to send resumes to “Dear Sir or Madam” while merely updating your tired resume from the year 2000, you’ll find that these methods have quickly become obsolete.

See if any of these common job hunting problems apply to you, and then implement corrections that can improve your success in 2010 and beyond:

1 – Failing to assess your competition.

This is by far the biggest mistake most candidates make when they set out to launch a job search in today’s aggressive market.

The reason? It takes more than mere skill to distinguish your unique qualifications at this point, even if generalizing your credentials worked in past decades.

As an example, you may have created marketing campaigns and worked with ad agencies in a sales role, but there’s plenty of marketing managers who’ve already been there, done that—and they represent your competition.

With your resume stacked against this type of candidate, your application won’t stand a chance.

Employers don’t have the time they once did during the days of intense hiring to review resumes and look for a good fit.

If you possess a diverse set of competencies, you’ll need to do some legwork in your chosen profession, establishing contacts and connections that can tell you where your career has gaps. You may also find that additional education or work experience is needed to enter the new field.

In addition, you’ll also need to prepare a compelling resume that clearly draws the connection between a subset of your skills to a specific job type, and gives companies a reason to interview you.

2 – Staying clueless about your online identity.

Like it or not, the social media and online relationship-building components of a successful job search aren’t going away.

While candidates in the early 2000’s had little concern about being Googled, a digital presence will be one of the most critical tools in the job hunt of 2010.

In addition, even though some professionals are savvy enough to build keyword-specific LinkedIn profiles, many job hunters continue to refuse social media connection invitations, failing to realize that recruiters make good use of these resources to find new candidates.

In fact, a recent study found that up to 80% of recruiters routinely use Internet searches to dig up more information on a candidate—and nearly half of these will reject job hunters with no digital presence.

With the intensity of job-hunting competition expected in 2010, you’ll need a strong social media profile that can reinforce your brand and qualifications.

Tony Deblauwe, a human resources expert and the founder of HR4Change, notes that recruiters often look at statistics behind the LinkedIn profile itself, noting the number of connections, recommendations, and group memberships for each candidate.

“The more information a person puts in the professional profile, the better,” he says, noting that recruiters prefer job seekers who provide a detailed summary and career history that saves them time in the selection process.

So, if you’ve held off on creating a full-blown social media presence, the time has come to alter your practices and jump into the game.

If you’re not sure how to proceed, start by creating a profile and gathering connections, then use an Internet search to uncover branded LinkedIn profile writing services.

3 – Ignoring resume trends.

If you can’t move past the thought of listing all duties at each job with no other details on a resume, you’ll find the job market of 2010 to be quite unforgiving.

The achievements-based resume is a trend that has become firmly established, according to hiring managers.

Kevin Murray, Senior Manager of Recruiting at Vistaprint, notes that the company receives hundreds of resumes daily, and that it’s critical for candidates to “document the impact of their work and quantify their accomplishments,” especially at this point in the job market.

“If a company is going to hire you,” he says, “They want to know that you are going to positively impact their business. This can really help distinguish you from other candidates that may just simply list out their previous responsibilities on a resume.”

For executives and senior-level professionals, the next generation of resume writing has involved personal branding. A key weapon in the job hunt, a branded resume includes not only achievements, but reflects your overall value proposition as well.

To create a branded presentation, you’ll need to assess your professional style and reputation, digging deep to analyze the impact of your work—and then capture the pattern that emerges.

Of course, you’ll also want to avoid the tremendously outdated practice of putting an objective statement on your resume. Instead, a short summary should be used to encapsulate your brand value and save valuable reading time on the part of recruiters.

4 – Neglecting to find contacts in your chosen field.

In previous years, applying to a new job was simple. You hopped onto Monster.com, submitted your resume to an open job posting, and received a call back.

However, getting employers’ attention in 2010 will require more effort than simply sending your resume online. With an avalanche of applicants for too few jobs, you’ll need to follow up on any resumes sent, with some detective work required in order to get in front of the right person.

This is where using LinkedIn, as well as business information search engines Zoominfo, Spoke, and Jigsaw will come in handy. You can quickly find company insiders and send your resume to a real person, rather than sending it down the black hole that consumes so many job applications.

In addition, it’s important to network effectively so that you aren’t answering job ads in the first place.

As companies have changed their practices to hire from within networks (before even posting positions online!), it’s important to change the way that you approach them, with guerrilla search tactics that tap into more “hidden” opportunities.

In summary, 2010 may prove to be a improvement over the challenges of 2009, especially when it comes to finding a great new position.

However, to make an impression in the new decade, you’ll have to employ stronger job search tactics and a branded, sharpened resume presentation.

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