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Getting a job in tough times

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Getting a job in tough times
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Unemployment has been on the rise in recent months. If you are among the thousands of people seeking work, it's important not to give up hope.

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As you conduct your search, the Minnesota Society of CPAs advises that there are many ways to improve your prospects and ensure that you present yourself as the best person for the job.

Reach out to contacts

Employment professionals advise that networking with a few people who know you and your skills can be a much more effective job-search technique than sending out stacks of resumes to strangers.

Begin by making a list of people who might be able to help you in your search.

Be creative in whom you include, listing not only former colleagues or employers, but also friends, family members and neighbors who might have great contacts.

Send each one a personal note or arrange a meeting. Tell them you are looking for new opportunities and explain exactly what you're seeking.

Ask if they know any companies or professionals you should contact.

Look for support and ideas

The isolation from the workplace can be a tough part of any job loss, and it can also prevent you from finding a new position.

Stay in touch with former colleagues or with other contacts in the same field. Socialize with them as often as possible in order to keep current with the marketplace and maintain your own good spirits.

Whether they have a job or are looking themselves, these professionals can be a sounding board and information source.

Do the research

When you land an interview, make sure you're prepared going into it.

Use resources in your local library, such as corporate information guides and business publications -- as well as the organization's own Web site -- to learn everything you can about the company.

Make your case Once you know what the company's about, begin to consider how you should best market yourself to this employer.

No matter what else is discussed in the interview, your potential employer is seeking answers to a couple of basic questions: Why should I hire you? What's in it for me? As you head into the appointment, make sure you have thought about the answers to these questions.

Be prepared to explain how your past experience fits with this organization and how the company can benefit from having someone with your skills and background on board.

Don't get scammed

Many people fail to follow their better judgment when they are anxious to find work and, unfortunately, find themselves taken advantage of by employment scams.

Remember that most legitimate organizations do not require job applicants to pay for a work opportunity or for information about openings.

Scammers in particular try to sell unsuspecting job hunters information about federal or postal service jobs, but these agencies never charge application or information fees, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In some cases, a scammer may try to sell you a brochure that supposedly contains job listings or test questions for government exams.

The information in these booklets may be incorrect or useless. You can find out legitimate information at www.usajobs.opm.gov, the official job site of the federal government or at www.usa.gov.

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