Even in the best of economic times, job hunts can be brutally competitive. Skip to a recession with high unemployment rates, and suddenly you're vying for a job against not just other locals, but applicants across the country. To outshine your job opponents, you can't simply cross your fingers and hope for the best, you have to -- as the cliché goes -- set yourself apart from the competition.
You can look at your job search as a way to sell "You" Inc. One effective way to do this is to set up your own Web site highlighting your skills, talents and professional experience. This will provide potential employers with a one-stop location to learn everything about you that they might otherwise have to request and sift through: your references, accomplishments, portfolio and more.
Consider your Web site as sort of a LinkedIn-plus. You'll list your job history and skills, of course. But you should also consider posting recommendations from colleagues, examples from your portfolio, awards you've achieved and links to professional associations to which you belong. Just make sure the site is professional, contemporary and easy to navigate. If you know little to nothing about Web design, consider enlisting a friend's help or hiring a professional. The last thing you want is for your site to look amateurish.
The Web is a powerful job-search tool, but on the next page we'll show you how it can work against you as well.