Jennifer Takacs-O'Shea, president of Caterpillar Career Consultants in Long Island, N.Y.
Start by pursuing your passion. If you're sure what your passion is, get involved on any level you can to gain experience and build up your network and familiarity with the niche. If you're unsure what your passion is, start your exploring by conducting primary research and then seeking out to connect with people in that field to gain hands-on insights. The passion we have can often appear quite differently in our thoughts than they actually are, so get the information you'll need to make a good decision.
In addition, be flexible and consider contract, temporary or part-time positions. While you may have worked as an employee in the past, full time with a full benefit plan, this is a time you may have more flexibility to consider different kinds of employment that may satisfy your interests and a prospective employer's budgetary needs. The best way to gain experience is to get into the game.
Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of The LaSalle Network, a $35 million staffing and recruiting firm in Chicago.
Try to "reduce" your resume. Remember, your goal is to compose a resume congruent with what the company desires without fabricating your professional experience. Rather than displaying a multitude of skills and expertise, you need to deliver only what the employer asks for to get noticed. It's more effective to exhibit passion and expertise about one or two skills related to the position than a multitude of unrelated talents.Also, customize your cover letter. One of the largest mistakes job-seekers make is not dedicating enough time to their cover letter or introductory email. Ninety percent of job-seekers have generic cover letters that reiterate bullet points on their resume. A cover letter or intro email is the first document an employer reads, so make it stand out. Create a niche for yourself. Whether you are a .NET developer, customer service representative or accountant, the recruiter or hiring manager is seeking something specific, so give it to them. Use the company website and research current events that pertain to the industry and incorporate this information showing what value you'd add from day one.