Web 2.0 adds a twist to job search strategies

Tips to outshine your competitors in today's job market

Stay current in your field by reading trade publications, news articles, blogs and market research reports from firms such as Gartner. And attend a conference in your niche to build your knowledge and to network. You might find someone who can connect you to a valuable contact, or even meet your next employer.

It's also important to have the necessary management skills, such as leadership capability, project management knowledge and mentoring experience. According to a March 2007 report from Forrester Research, 55 percent of the 280 IT decision-makers polled cited project management expertise as a missing skill among techies.

Network out of the box. As tried-and-true career advice suggests, networking is key to landing a gig. Monster.com and HotJobs.com are great starting points, but many positions are never publicly posted.

So don't be embarrassed to spread the word to your friends, former colleagues and contacts. Inform them that you're currently in the market for a new job, and don't be shy about asking them to put you in touch with any of their relevant contacts. It's likely you'll be able to return the favor some day.

But don't stop in the physical world. Social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as microblogging tools like Twitter, make it easy to initiate relationships with new contacts. Remember, however, that this is just a launching pad. It's up to you to develop and grow these relationships.

When you invite someone to join your social network, include a personalized note. Mention mutual friends or contacts, if any, or call attention to any specific interests that you share.

Think of activities in your past that make building bridges easy, and start with those organizations. Colleges, high schools, former employers and home towns often provide the links that allow an initial conversation to build into a potential referral.

Team up with a staffing firm. Staffing professionals closely follow the job market every day and have extensive knowledge about trends in your field and the most updated inventory of available positions. They know what skills and experience top employers are looking for and can guide you through the entire recruitment process, from searching for a job to negotiating salary and other benefits once the position is yours.

With a trusted and diverse network of hiring managers at their fingertips, staffing firms have the resources to help find suitable placements for job seekers looking for short- or long-term assignments. They have extensive information about employers' backgrounds, enabling them to match a position and company to a job seeker's skills and priorities.

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Dan Cobb

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