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How to Take Control of Your Job Hunt

Before you can showcase your skills and qualifications in an interview or articulate what you have to offer prospective employers, manage what happens long before you meet the recruiter or hiring manager: the job search itself. You must be in control of your search for employment, which requires a well-thought-out plan, diligent effort and organizational skills. The more control you have over your job hunt, the more likely you are to have a successful end to your search.

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Develop a Strategy

Take control by planning a strategic search, recommends Cheryl Brown, a Houston-based legal recruiter with Wegman Partners. "You have to put in place a strategy, just like any other worthwhile endeavor. Set your goals, objectives and desired outcomes," Brown says. "Being diligent about such fundamental steps as establishing employment goals determines whether you get the traction you want, and ultimately, the offers that coincide with your career plans," she adds. For example, if you want a position that offers upward mobility, a targeted search for employers that offer professional development opportunities and that support promotion from within may be part of your strategy.

Buy Your Own Stuff

Use your own computer, paper and home Internet access. The exception to this is if your employer is providing outplacement services because of a layoff or downsizing and has approved using company time and equipment to conduct your job search. You have control of your job search because you're not borrowing or using supplies that don't belong to you. And if you don't have your own computer and Internet access, use a computer at your public library.

Choose a Competent Recruiter and Stay In Touch

If you choose to work with a recruiter, maintain regular contact with her, but avoid being a pest. You needn't call or email a competent recruiter every day to see if there are openings or if she's presented your qualifications to employers, says Brown. "Placing candidates -- particularly high-level associates and partners -- takes time. I appreciate candidates who trust me to be their advocate, which means I'm conscientiously working on their behalf. How often you talk to your recruiter heavily depends on the particular stage where you are in the search process," she adds.

Monitor Social Networking Sites Regularly

Control your job search by monitoring your professional and personal profiles, and your postings, on social networking sites. For example, craft an engaging LinkedIn profile that contains key words and phrases that recruiters can find when they search for candidates. Use terms that are relevant to your field, because doing so not only demonstrates your knowledge and expertise, but they lead recruiters and hiring managers to your profile when they search for those job-related qualifications. Also, refrain from posting information on your personal profiles that may raise eyebrows, such as inappropriate comments and photos, and refrain from posting information in your professional profiles about your children.

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Carve Out Time to Hunt

Managing your time wisely enables you to take control of your job search. A haphazard search, periodically checking job posting sites and squeezing in an hour or two to complete an occasional online application may not be a productive use of time. A diligent search requires blocks of time that you can devote to searching for jobs and writing resumes and cover letters. Set aside a block of time when you can concentrate on your search, even if it means shifting family responsibilities so that someone else can watch the kids or carving out time before family and household duties begin or while the kids are napping. If you're employed, use your lunch hour to make follow-up phone calls and check email messages on your smartphone.

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