How to find jobs in tight times

Here are several ideas that might assist you in landing a job in this tough economy.

Differentiate yourself in interviews by offering technical skills or the ability to make valuable judgments, traits that typically come with experience and training.

Network with friends to find out about openings that may not be listed, and contact firms you think would be a good fit. In lean times, openings often don't get posted because firms have people in mind for positions.

Use social media, such as LinkedIn or Twitter, along with traditional networking tools. Whether in person or on Facebook, your contacts may help you land a job or customer. Participating in professional groups can help, too.

Be entrepreneurial, even if you're not running a business. Look for innovative opportunities to boost your employer's success – and ways to build your own opportunities in the process. "Think of yourself as a free agent," even in your current job, says expert John Challenger.

Gain specialized knowledge, which can make you valuable within your company or in the job market.

Do something you love, because your passion may help you build know-how and become invaluable.

But have the humility to do some things you don't love. It might pay the rent while opening up unexpected opportunities. At the very least, you may learn new skills.

Take modest steps that can build toward larger goals: Meet five new people in your desired field.

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