Whether you're looking for your very first job, switching careers, or re-entering the job market after an extended absence, finding a job requires two main tasks: understanding yourself and understanding the job market. Presuming you've already chosen a career and are currently searching for jobs, here are several ways to actually get a job.
1) Evaluate your needs. Are you looking for a new job or a new career? Depending on where you are in your life, you may not need the career of your dreams--a job to pay the bills will do. Others may be looking for long-term, more satisfying work.
Assess what you want--a job or career. Next, you should acknowledge if you know what you want to do with yourself or not. Many people say they want a better job, but aren't sure what field they want to go into. Others are already in the industry they prefer, but can't seem to find a good job. Figure out what you want first and use career assessment tools to help you identify your skill set.
You may find that you need to go back to school in order to get a better job. Make sure that the degree you look into will actually help. While getting a Master's, for example, is a great idea for many people, some jobs may not require it.
2) Get your resume together. Two things sell you to a company: your resume and your personality during the interview. To initiate even getting booked for an interview, you'll need a strong resume. Visit my article on writing a better resume. If you have the money, invest in a company to write a fresh resume for you. Include a cover letter that highlights your skills and explains what you'd like to do.
3) Look above and beyond. I always encourage job seekers to use multiple mediums. If you've always used the newspaper, try the Internet. If you're technically savvy and relying on sites like Monster.com to get you the gig, expand your horizons.
Most people report that the best way to get a job they want is to instead research individual companies and then approach the company with their credentials.
Take advantage of the new year and blast your resume out. Some companies may not be hiring right away, but you just never know how far sending a resume can take you. It may fall into the right hands at the right time--this is usually the case.
4) Expand your horizons. Open your mind one step further and don't rely on job ads. Most jobs may not be posted, and some aren't open yet. Your resume could arrive at the perfect time if you approach companies instead of job ads. Don't get me wrong, job ads are great, but you can't rely on them.
Another great idea is to apply for that job that you don't think you can get. Of course if you are entry level and you'd like to be an executive, you're probably going to have to pay your dues. But if you have plenty of industry experience and the job requires a degree, apply anyway. Don't shoot yourself in the foot--you have nothing to lose.
Have a friend or family member who may be able to open up an opp for you? Use them! Ask for help!
5) Ace the interview. Practice your interview skills with a friend or family member if you haven't been out on the interview scene in a while. There are a plethora of resources--free of charge. Your library has useful books and the Internet is a trove of information.
One tip I always use is to pretend that I'm interviewing the interviewer. It takes a little bit of the edge off. I also come prepared with answers to questions like, "How do you explain the gap on your resume?" and "What is your greatest weakness?"
6) Finally, give yourself time. Finding a great job or career takes time for the right doors to open up. You want to make sure you enjoy the job, so you'll want to be a little selective, too. That's why covering all your bases--using multiple mediums, putting your resume out to jobs that may be a little out of your league, preparing for interviews, and using interviews as practice--is smart. When the right job comes along, you'll be confident that it's the one for you.