You've posted your resume online. You've sent out a dozen copies answering classified ads. You've told everyone in your network that you're looking for a job.
And nothing has happened.
Since 1996, I've written/edited resumes for nearly 3,000 clients and refunded less than 3 percent of them for lack of results. Based on this experience, here are four ways for you to troubleshoot -- and improve -- an unsuccessful job search.
1. Is your resume focused?
Your resume can't be all things to all people. Make sure yours has one main focus, such as sales or computer programming. Every word in your resume should contribute to that single focus you've chosen. If you try to go in too many directions, your resume won't appeal to anyone.
2. Is your resume error-free?
You've heard this 100 times, so let's make it 101 -- a single typo can ruin your resume. But that's only partially true. Because even more things can go wrong.
When proofreading your resume, you should also check for errors in spacing between words, inconsistent abbreviations, poor layout, tiny fonts and extreme length/wordiness.
Example: inconsistent spacing is a frequent gaffe. It doesn't matter if you use one space or two after periods, but be consistent throughout. Otherwise, your resume will look unprofessional.
3. Is your cover letter hard-hitting?
According to the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly, "Your cover letter can make or break whether your resume goes into the 'yes' pile or the 'no' pile. A really terrific cover letter can change the reader's mind."
Use your cover letter to show off your knowledge of the company and the industry. And be sure to convey your enthusiasm for the job -- enthusiasm sells.
But be concise! Nothing longer than 4-5 paragraphs or one page will work well.
4. Is your job search a full-time job?
In this job market, the quest for employment takes time and effort. Think of finding work as a job in itself, requiring nothing less than your total dedication.
So, ask yourself: "Am I really using all my available resources? Am I spending at least 4-8 hours and doing at least 10 things every day to find the right job?"
For example, make sure you use -- really use -- your college placement office. Most students and graduates never visit theirs, according to my experience.
Now go out and make your own luck!