12 job search tips for 2012

It’s a new year and a new jobs market. U.S. employers are expecting to increase their hiring slightly in the first quarter, according to the December Manpower Employment Outlook Survey (released by the ManpowerGroup). The expected increase of 9 percent is the most promising hiring Outlook survey since 2008.

Here are 12 tips from career coaches, recruiters and other experts to help you make the most of your job search in 2012.

1. Know yourself. Be clear about what you want in your career, what work environments are best for you, what brings you aliveness and happiness at work. Knowing this will help you decide if a job is right for you.

-- Martha Carnahan, certified business and life coach, BrilliantVisions LLC

2. Take inventory of your skills and abilities, so that you know what you bring to the table. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Use the job search to focus on self-improvement, acquire new skills and improve your candidacy.

-- Elena Bajic, founder and CEO of Ivy Exec, career resource and job/recruiting site

3. Professionalize your presence online. Google yourself and look at your online profiles through the eyes of your next employer. You want to impress and show your personality, but avoid the "too much information" factor.

-- Martha Carnahan

4. Make a plan. Set realistic and achievable goals and review them daily. Make checklists to make sure your job search time is productive. Treat the job search like a job.

-- Elena Bajic

5. It’s critical to build a viable network. Use LinkedIn to connect with other business professionals who went to your school, worked at the same company you did or who share hobbies, faith or interests. Connect with people you don’t already know over coffee or lunch.

-- Randy Hain, managing partner, Bell Oaks Executive Search

6. Learn to NetWeave. In traditional networking, you ask for help, which may feel uncomfortable. A less self-serving and more powerful method is Bob Littell’s NetWeaving. Become a connector of people and resource for helping others find solutions, knowing that you’re growing your network and help will come back to you. See http://netweaving.com to learn how.

-- Patrick Lynch, president, the Frontier Group, career management firm

7. Try “organic networking.” Build relationships naturally by doing what you enjoy and being who you are. Talk about your career plans with family, friends, your yoga instructor or your child’s soccer coach. You’ll create a flourishing network and net more business contacts and referrals down the road.

-- Laura Biering, life and leadership coach, True Voices Inc.

-- Debby Stone, certified coach and founder, InterVision Group LLC

8. Research to find non-posted opportunities. There are three types of job openings: public openings, hidden jobs and future jobs. Competition is fierce for the first. You find the second and third type by leveraging your network to find yourself in the right place at the right time. Do research online and with industry professionals to develop a robust target list of companies. Use LinkedIn to ask for "warm" referrals, which could open up hidden or future jobs.

-- Tom Darrow, founder and principal of Talent Connections LLC and Career Spa LLC

9. Be flexible. Be willing to explore consulting or contract roles in addition to full-time jobs. It’s important to get your foot in the door and give employers a chance to "try before they buy."

-- Randy Hain

10. Set yourself apart with social media. Create a compelling LinkedIn profile that includes a PowerPoint presentation highlighting your capabilities and accomplishments. Create a Facebook fan page for business. Include compelling content and video to show that you know industry trends and are a leader in your field.

-- Barbara Giamanco, CEO, Talent Builders Inc.

11. Be passionate. Now that employers have downsized, they want team members who are working from their core abilities. Show the kind of passion and enthusiasm that will demonstrate you can handle and embrace the requirements of working in a lean, focused team.

-- Sharon Birkman, CEO, Birkman International, a leading personality assessment firm

12. Ask for what you want. Don’t fall into the trap of demonstrating your worth and value without achieving what you set out to do. Do you want a promotion, raise or a flexible schedule? Don’t forget your end goal or be afraid to ask for what will make you happy.

-- Michele Gorman, director of career management-MBA at Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina