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Be focused in search for work

These days, if you're not looking for a job yourself, you know someone who is. Beyond the blur of statistical studies, the fact remains: Plenty of folks still need a job.

To gather up some job-hunting techniques, we talked with several career experts. From revving up a resume to smarter social networking, here's their advice:

How to zero in: Job placement experts like Curt Cetraro, CEO of ConnectPoint Search Group in Sacramento, say they continually meet people "who are still baffled about why they're not getting calls back" from employers with job openings.

In many cases, it's because job seekers don't focus enough on who they are and what they want. "They're presenting themselves in a very generic fashion ... to companies that want very specific individuals."

Instead, identify the specific industry, company or position you're passionate about. Do the research: Look up the company, the types of jobs and how you would fit in or add value. Read trade publications, attend business mixers, join the professional associations.

Tap your networks of friends or business acquaintances to seek out people you should ask for an informational interview. Don't necessarily call the human resources office. Find the person closest to the top or the level of responsibility where you want to work.

Show a sincere interest, not a can-you-do-something-for-me attitude, Cetraro said. "Tell them, 'I'm fascinated by your company. I'm exploring your industry. Could I have 20-30 minutes to talk about your business?' That's far better than saying, 'I need a job. Do you have an opening?' "

And when you show up, "you can't be lukewarm. Show your interest, your understanding of their business and how you want to make a difference. That's how you get a job today."

*Rev up the resume: With resumes, one is never enough. Have at least two or three, each targeted to specific jobs or career fields. Unless you're a recent college grad, ditch the obligatory "career objective" or mission statement at the top. Career experts say it's old-school.

Customize your resume to key words in the job description, emphasizing your matching skills.

If the job opening is for a "senior IT specialist," for instance, those exact words should appear in the resume.

*Avoid interview stumbles: It's one of the most common questions -- and biggest pitfalls -- in a job interview: "Tell me about yourself."

"They don't want to know about your kids or dogs," said Laura Perez, CEO of Epiphany Coaching in Sacramento, Calif. "They want to know about your education, background, experience and expertise."

Be observant. Look around the office for something that offers an instant connection with the interviewer. It could be a family photo, an award, a piece of sculpture. Commenting on his dog or her community award is "a great ice-breaker. It puts you and the interviewer at ease," she said.

*Get out the door: Go to business mixers, professional meetings, Chamber events: "Put on your best clothes and best attitude," said Helen Scully, president of Scully Career Associates in Folsom, Calif. "Even if it costs some money, if you end up sitting next to someone who's hiring, it's better than sitting at home."

Have a business card printed with your name and current or desired title -- business manager, health care adviser, etc. Include your cell phone, e-mail and LinkedIn address.

When introduced, dwell on the future, not the past.

"Say: 'I'm here because I'm really interested in project management, specifically construction. What do you do?' " Scully said. "Talk about where you want to be, not where you were."

*Tap your social network: Embrace your Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts and Twitter followers. But don't hit them up for jobs, said Maribeth Kuzmeski, president of a Chicago-based business marketing firm and author of five books. Instead, ask for names of those to contact in a company or industry where you want to work.

*Staying pumped up: It's hard to not feel rejected and dejected if you've spent months looking for work. How to stay upbeat?

"Don't believe everything you see, read or hear," Perez said. "Do your own research. ... Make your own conclusions."

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