Finding a job can be like painting your bathroom. If you prepare thoroughly, the actual task will go smoothly. But if you fail to prepare, you're preparing to fail.
Here are three ways you can prepare -- and succeed -- in your next job search ... in any economy.
1) Prepare a results-driven resume
Write a resume that's focused on a particular job or industry, outlines your most marketable skills, and proves you have those skills by including plenty of specific achievements.
Remember, every employer reading your resume wants an answer to this question: "What's in it for me?" If your resume is all about you and your needs, revise it until focuses on the employer's problems and how you can solve them.
2) Prepare your network
The most valuable (and overlooked) weapon in your job search arsenal is your network. Everyone you know personally and professionally can be a source of job leads. But you have to tell them EXACTLY what you're looking for, or they won't be able to help.
Don't ask people: "Do you know where I can find a job?" Instead, ask: "Who do you know who needs a graphic designer, with five years of award-winning experience creating marketing collateral for Fortune 1000 clients?"
See the difference? If you paint a clear picture of what you want and what you can offer, you'll get it faster.
Also, be sure to expand your network by asking everyone you know this magic question: "Do you know anyone else I should be talking to?" Try it!
3) Prepare your interview skills
Your first interview should never be for your ideal job -- too much can go wrong. Make your mistakes early by interviewing with less-desirable companies (or your reflection in a mirror!) until your answers are polished and smooth.
Don't be like the computer programmer I know whose first interview out of college was with the employer of her dreams. She made several rookie mistakes ... and was not called back.
The more prepared you are with an updated resume, expanding network and sharp interview skills, the more opportunities you will uncover. And the shorter your job search will be.
Kevin Donlin is at firstname.lastname@example.org