The same set of standards apply to both groups. This is the time of year to evaluate or re-evaluate where you are and where you want to be. As the economy continues to struggle, it is especially important now to get a bearing on where you are in your career.

• Finding a new job is hard work. So hard, in fact, that it should take up at least 40 hours per week, just like a regular job – if you have a regular job, you might get by with a little less, but not much. This includes responding to ads (low value, low return), researching and targeting companies (medium value, medium to high return), and networking (high value, high return).
• Do you research the company before the interview, demonstrate genuine interest in the organization during the (sometimes lengthy) interview process? Send thank you notes to those with whom you met, individualized to each conversation? These intangible actions tell a prospective organization much about you.
• If you are working, continue (or start) to add noticeable value in all that you do. When budgets at the new year come out, and layoffs become a possibility, those who stand out (for the right reasons!) have a smaller statistical chance of being laid off. In addition, if you are looking and are still employed, you may look like a better candidate for having survived layoffs (if that indeed has been the case) (this is not to presume that those who are laid off were not doing a good job; certainly, many fine people have been laid off through no fault of their own; however, if you can lessen that chance, why not take it?).
• Are you continuing to develop professionally? Are you taking courses, seminars, and the like and/or attending conferences to learn about emerging trends in your business that make you more valuable?
• Are you developing your own career path and developing YOU? Can you show a prospective employer that you have a plan that benefits the organization for the longer term (while staying true to yourself and remembering that you are solely responsible for your own career)?
• Can you easily demonstrate the basic skills to do your job and the job in the next highest grade? Do you have excellent writing skills for a job that requires writing? Excellent math skills for a job with numbers? Excellent people skills for a job in sales, marketing, development, etc.? If not, work on this NOW.

Competition is still fierce and likely will be for the foreseeable future. The ideas expressed here will help you to overcome some easy obstacles to your search.

© 2010, Michael Trust & Associates, All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Trust, MPA, SPHR-CA is a Human Resources and Career Coaching professional, and president of Michael Trust & Associates,, a Human Resources Consulting and Career Coaching firm. His Human Resources experience spans twenty years, and he has had major roles in staffing in all of his Human Resource positions. In addition, he has coached individuals at all career levels relative to their career paths, job search strategies, and related areas.