Excerpted from article by Sarah Kohout. 

1. Identify Your Target Industry or Field of Interest

 - Most industries have multiple subfields and further, departmental differences between job descriptions, duties and responsibilities. Make sure you are aware of the variety of positions within each industry sector. Use the Occupational Outlook Handbook (www.bls.gov/oco/) to research job titles.

 - Take some time to envision yourself performing each task associated with a position – could you see yourself performing this task eight hours a day, five times a week?

A January 2010 Gallup Poll found U.S. job satisfaction at its lowest level in two decades. Make sure you are looking at all the data before you make the proverbal leap (Results of polls on job satisfaction are at odds, By Carol Morello, Wednesday, January 6, 2010)

2. Search for Jobs via Keywords

- Job search sites such as Indeed.com allow you to input keywords or phrases when searching for jobs. Expand your job search by viewing all industries that highlight a specific skill as a job requirement (i.e. typing in “analyst” pulls up jobs such as: “financial,” “systems,” “credit,” “economic,” “risk” and “military” analyst). By expanding your job search into different industries, you may find jobs requiring the same skill sets you already have while simply working with a different product. 

- View a variety of job postings – even jobs where you do not meet the qualifications. Scan these job postings for keywords or “buzz words” that are vital job responsibilities. Use your collection of buzz words to refine your job search and define your ideal job.

Once you have defined your ideal job, begin incorporating the related buzz words into your resume and cover letter. Illustrate for employers your ability and interest in using necessary industry skills. 

3. Research the Professional Associations and Organizations for your Field of Interest 

- Professional associations are maintained by professionals in the field. These sites often serve as invaluable resources regarding industry trends and key resources, necessary accreditations or certifications, and industry publications. 

- Use discussion or forum boards on these Web sites to ask questions about the field, to stay abreast of industry current events, and to weigh in on industry issues. This knowledge can certainly benefit you in job interviews and additionally can benefit you when employers search your name prior to the interview and see your passion in your field. 

- Many professional association Web sites also list upcoming webinars or seminar series to attend, which is another great way to stay current in the field.

Peruse the organization’s career center too – search for research opportunities, internship and full-time positions. 

4. Use Niche Job Boards

- Employers post positions on niche job boards to avoid being flooded with applications from unqualified candidates. Find these sites by searching “ job search sites” in Google (i.e. “direct marketing job search sites”). 

- Print out jobs of interest, stay organized and record your completion of each stage of the application process (i.e. updated resume, sent application, scheduled interview). 

- Create an Excel spreadsheet tracking your job search, including information about job posting closing date, contact information, follow-up points of contact, job description buzzwords, and company mission and goals. The key is to search smarter not harder for jobs. Updating this information throughout your search will keep you prepared as employers begin calling for interviews.

You can even create an Excel sheet of the list of niche job boards you find. Create a schedule for yourself of dates and times you check each site to help avoid searching certain sites too often. 

5. Use your City’s Chamber of Commerce Web sites or LinkedIn to Directly Search for Ideal Employers 

- Many job boards cost employers money, leading companies to post job openings solely on their own human resources Web site. Therefore it is crucial to identify and target specific employers and consistently check their human resources department Web site directly. 

- Even when employers post positions on job boards, make sure to view the position opening as it is written on the company’s human resources page. Frequently, employers will list additional application requirements about the positions they post on their website only. By doing this, employers can easily identify which candidates have done their research on the company.