by Barbara, Vice President, Human Resources

With a market heavy on applicants and light on opportunity, the job hunt is a challenging pursuit. Nationwide unemployment is at record levels and applicants are at the top of their game.

Spruce up.
Remember to clean up your Facebook, MySpace and Twitter pages, if applicable. Social media is great for your friends, but be wary of how your online image could be viewed by a potential employer. Consider applying privacy settings to your pages.

Imagine your resume compared with 10 others. Then, make yours stand out! Customize each application to the job and the employer. They will probably request to receive your resume electronically. Within the body of the email, include the name of the job for which you’re applying, a summary of your qualifications and why you’d be an asset to the company. The less work the hiring manager has to do, the better.

Paper appearance.
Your first impression – yes, even before your outfit – is your resume. Keep it simple. Use an easy-to-read format with headings and bullets. Since the “e-Resume” is quickly replacing the paper resume, keep the font professional and common, so that most computers will be able to display it correctly.

Beyond job responsibilities, quantifying your accomplishments is a great way to inform a potential employer about your work ethic. For example, instead of “achieved sales and phone goals” consider “provided service to 50 customers per hour while achieving 200 cross sales per month.” Be accurate and honest, but remember that this is your time to show off!

Include achievements, awards, promotions or other ways you excel. Incorporate all education, including degrees, certificates and training. Don’t use acronyms.

Make it easy to be contacted. If email or your cell phone is the simplest way to reach you, say so.

Most importantly, typos, misspellings and grammar DO count, so take care when writing and proofreading your resume. Inattention to detail gives an impression of the type of employee you’ll be. Always ask a knowledgeable friend or family member to read it, too. Two sets of eyes help give perspective.

Personal appearance.
Think of how you would come dressed to start work today. Then kick it up one notch. If your goal is construction, consider a polo shirt. If it’s an office job you’re after, add a jacket. Be sure you’re representing the best you have to offer.

My best advice is this: Be confident, positive, consistent and patient. Good luck!