NEW YORK (
) -- Springtime has always been the ideal time of year to do a little life maintenance -- dusting off the curtains, clearing out the garage -- and giving your job search the spring cleaning it so desperately deserves.
No matter how long you've been seeking that perfect job, now's the time to forget about the excuses you've been using for the past six months, evaluate what you've been doing and see how can you can improve.
It's not always easy knowing where to start to freshen things up, though. Our experts weigh in with the best ways to shake the dust off your job hunt and spring into a new career.
Socialize your job search and build your online brand.
According to a survey by online recruiting and resume tool
, 86% of recruiters and HR professionals review a candidate's social networking profiles. Of those, 70% have turned down a candidate based on something seen on their online profiles.
It's a fact that most companies are now using their social media channels to look for job candidates, says Ben Martinez, HR director at
, a digital recruiting platform company based in Salt Lake City.
"If there is a specific company that you want to work for, be sure to connect with them on
and any other relevant social channels. Use these channels for due diligence and for connecting with recruiters and hiring managers. Also, check to see if they have a dedicated social media page for job postings."
Don't forget to update your LinkedIn profile, which Martinez describes as "your online resume and portfolio rolled into one." Job-seekers should make sure that hiring managers can see their best professional profile online and on paper.
Also, while you're focusing your energies online, don't be afraid to create a job search "concierge," he says. Search tools such as
Alerts and social monitoring tools including TweetDeck and HootSuite can help bring jobs right to your inbox.
"Create saved searches for a variety of jobs and receive alerts as relevant tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn posts are blasted," Martinez says.
Seek guidance and grow your network.
"Job-seekers will gain a valuable new perspective and guidance through the use of career mentors," says Heather R. Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy.
"The right mentor can give beneficial advice, critiques and access to job openings. By talking to them, you can gain insight into how they're searching and make necessary improvements to more quickly land a job."
Don't be afraid to break away from the job boards and get out and meet people in your industry. Seek guidance from people in your network or who you'd like to bring into your network, she says.
"Referrals are essential to getting hired. Job-seekers should consider building their network of connections by attending networking events, getting involved in industry-related organizations and utilizing online forums," Huhman says.
Revamp your resume.
This one may seem obvious, but as a job-seeker, your resume is one of the best ways to advertise yourself, says Amanda Augustine, job search expert at TheLadders.
"Your resume is one part of your personal marketing campaign. Use it to show employers how you're the right fit for their open position. Remember, recruiters and hiring managers aren't looking for a jack-of-all-trades; they want someone who fits exactly the role they're trying to fill at that moment," Augustine says.
Job-seekers should tailor their resume to highlight relevant accomplishments, skill sets and credentials and remove any information that isn't necessary.
"Rule of thumb: Keep your resume to one to two pages, depending on your experience level, and only show the most recent 15 years' worth of experience. Save the bullets for your 'braggable' accomplishments," she says.
Also, even though you might think you've been thorough, re-read your resume to make sure you haven't left anything out, says Daniel O'Shea, chief creative officer for
Caterpillar Career Consultants
"I often find that after interviewing a job candidate, a lot of great information was missing from their resumes and online profiles; important information that could be beneficial to perspective employers," he says.
Don't be afraid to consider a recruiter.
Recruiters will assess your qualifications, help you write or review your bio and adapt it to the jobs they recommend you pursue, says Dan Kaplan, global head of the HR practice at CTPartners.
"The Internet and LinkedIn have made it easy to find a recruiter," he says.
For example, if you're seeking employment in the technology industry, you might want to Google "recruiter in tech space" or whatever your industry might be, and start with the big firms. Check out the partners' bios and specialties and review what's been written about the firm in the news, he says.
Keep in mind that when hiring a recruiter, no money should change hands.
"If you are working with a good recruiter, you should not need to pay for resume writing or interview skills. The company that hires you will pay the recruiter, and the recruiter provides the services the candidate needs."
Reassess your search and look for something new -- and even fun.
Jane Trnka, the executive director of the Career Development Center at Rollins College's Crummer Graduate School of Business, says you should ask yourself: How many hours are you dedicating to your search? How are you allocating those hours?
"By creating a calendar, charting out and making deliberate plans, you will avoid the 'I can do it tomorrow' self-talk and take productive action in a more timely manner," Trnka says.
When you've assessed what might be lacking, don't be afraid to take some classes, she says.
"Is there something you need or want to learn to enhance your skills and talents? You can gain knowledge, enhance your network and also demonstrate to potential employers you are not sitting behind the computer all day and night."
Trnka encourages job-seekers to look at local organizations, community colleges and universities for course schedules.
"Participate in activities and go to places you haven't been to before. Not only will you expand your knowledge in general and have a good time, but you will most probably meet someone who you can include in your job search network," she says.
Clean your contact list and brush up on your communication skills.
"Cleaning your list of contacts is like cleaning your closet. Organizers say that if you have not worn a piece of clothing in the past year, throw it out," says Steve Langerud, director of professional opportunities at DePauw University.
"If you have not been in touch with a contact in the past year, either get in touch or cut them from the list. The result is an active, viable and engaged group to help you in your job search."
Once you've established the folks on your list whom you should be speaking with, ask yourself if you're effectively communicating what you need.
"I often find that when a job-seeker has been out of work for a while, their basic business communication skills start to diminish," O'Shea says. "It's never easy writing an introductory email or cover letter, but this basic email can give employers an introduction to who you are. And all too often a typo or an awkward statement instantly puts an end to your consideration, preventing the prospective employer from even viewing your resume."
He advises reviewing past emails and identifying new ways to improve how you communicate with perspective employers.
"There is always room for improvement, and having an iPhone is never an excuse for typos," he says.
Remember high school: Don't be tardy, and read your books!
"Rise before the sun," says Tom Gimbel, CEO and founder of the
. "Resist hitting the snooze button and wake up a few minutes earlier to do something you love. Run outside, cook a healthy breakfast or meditate as the sun rises; instead of feeling drained before you start the day, you'll have more energy to power through it."
Getting up early is a great way to keep up, but another important way of staying "on top" is to read. Most job-seekers don't read enough, and what they do read is too narrow, he says.
"Remember, the job market and economy are changing quickly. Look for intersections with your industry by reading broadly outside your primary field of expertise. Trade journals are the most overlooked resources available to job-seekers. There has never been more information available, and staying informed is one key way to differentiate yourself from the thundering herd."