Three Job Hunting Tips to Give You a Competitive Edge in a Down Economy

Job hunting in this economy is tough for everyone, no matter how qualified you are. While some jobs are outsourced abroad and to less expensive independent contractors, others are eliminated altogether -- leaving employees spread thin with additional responsibilities. Worst of all, job hunting is terrible because there is so much competition for available positions-- to the extent where it's not unheard of for entry-level openings to see applicants from previous VPs. Even though you have a great resume, great skills, and a great personality, you're not receiving any callbacks. For the best of the best, the worst of the worst, and everyone in between, today's economy is demoralizing. Even the most seemingly trivial detail-- your name, year of graduation, and phone number can affect whether an employer eliminates you. With so many applicants for so few spots, hiring managers have an easier time saying no than yes.

While job hunting, it's important to pay attention to the smallest and most subtle details of your application-- beyond ensuring that your cover letter and resume are properly formatted and typo-free. When looking for a job, especially if you're unemployed, it's imperative that every step you take is strategic. The following can help get you started:

(1) Secure a local telephone number. At first glance, recruiters may be skeptical of applicants who are from outside areas. These days, with so much mobility, it's common for people to have phone numbers from completely different areas. A local phone number will show that you are committed to the area in which you are applying for work. Following this strategy, recruiters may be less likely to overlook your application. If you're unemployed, you probably don't want to spend money on a telephone service, you you can try Google Voice, which assigns free telephone numbers based on the area that you choose.

(2) Use your online persona to your advantage. Make sure that your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles incorporate a balance between your professional identity and your great personality. Market yourself while you are job hunting, and showcase your web-savvy persona with excellent online identities. If you have time, make a website with a portfolio.

(3) If you're unemployed, find something productive to do. In an interview, recruiters are likely to ask you what you're doing during an employment gap. Even if you can't find work, make an effort to improve yourself -- it'll make you look good, and it'll be good for you. Consider learning a new skill by taking low-cost courses at a community college. Try learning a skill in your field, or consider a new skill altogether. Whatever you do, be prepared to answer the question, "so what have you been doing?" From a recruiter's perspective, "nothing" is the worst answer possible. Even though job hunting is like a full time job, your life needs additional levels of balance.

If you have any job hunting tips, feel free to share them here. No matter what, remember to stay positive. Negativity can only hurt you.

Photo Credit: Alex France