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The Hardest Job 

Going against the grain can be a job-seeker's greatest strategy.

You're still out of work, and it's been six months. You've done everything "by the book" to land a new job. You might be following the wrong book.

In his book Don't Send a Resume and Other Contrarian Rules to Help Land a Great Job, author Jeffrey Fox provides an examination of all-too-common, dead-end job-seeking strategies. To get results, he advises, one's job search should follow against-the-grain tactics.

If getting hired is about marketing yourself, then a resume alone will not close the sale. "It's very hard for any hiring company to translate what you've done some place else into how your experience will prove meaningful for them," Fox says.

Without thoroughly researching target employers, you almost guarantee that your resume will end up in the wastebin, along with hundreds of others sent the same way -- blindly. Impact letters are a great approach, Fox says. "Think about your skills and how you can help a company improve its product, increase profits or reduce costs. ... Tell them that you'd like to share how you can make this happen for them in person."

Resumes, Fox adds, should only be sent out after an interview. And if you're granted a face-to-face, try not to do much talking. Let the interviewer do the talking -- and then ask thoughtful, pre-planned questions. "Great questions are indicative of your education, background and experience," says Fox. And while most job-seekers hope to learn what's in it for them, he adds, companies don't really care about what you want. "Employers want to know what you can do well and what they would gain from hiring you," he stresses.

Today's savvy job-seeker knows to look where others aren't: small businesses and industries experiencing upheaval. "Don't you think they need good people, too?" asks Fox. If you're willing to travel, American companies with offices abroad or foreign-operated firms are often under-saturated territories for job-seekers.

Unemployed people still have a full-time job: searching for new work. "Don't play resume roulette," Fox says. "You should have a rigorous, daily schedule that starts with exercise, reviewing newspapers and going on the Internet in a disciplined, organized way. If you're tired at the end of a day from job-seeking, it's a very morale-lifting experience."


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