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If you’re like lots of people at the moment, the start of a new year has motivated you to think about your career. You may be searching for your dream job or looking to land a promotion, even if things are currently tight within your company. Alternatively, if you have been recently laid off, then you’re probably looking for a new role as soon as possible.

If that’s the case, it’s important to do everything you can to give yourself the best chance of success. You must find ways to stand out from your competition  so that your search doesn’t drag on for months or even years. If you’re keen to hasten the time it takes to upgrade your position or find a new one, read on for some tips you can follow today.

Get to Know Recruiters, Business Owners, and Other Insiders

One of the first things you can do to land a job is be proactive and get to know recruiters and various insiders at the companies you want to work for. Remember: you don’t have to wait for a position to be advertised; instead, it is a good idea to beat your potential competition by getting in touch with the right people and giving them your details.

Start by researching companies you’d love to join. Find out who the relevant managers are, what types of skills they may be looking for in new hires, and how you might be able to bring something helpful to the table. Then you can get in touch directly to submit your CV and cover letter so that you’re on file when a job opens up. You might just luck out with your timing too, and happen to be noticed by the right person at the right time.

It also pays to get to know as many recruiters and other industry insiders as you can. This is one of the best ways to hear about positions opening up before they’re advertised. Make the effort to develop relationships with those who are “in the know” in your industry. You can then make them aware of who you are, what type of role you’re looking to land, what skills and experience you have, and the kind of results you’ve achieved in the past. From there, these new contacts can keep you front of mind when they hear about new opportunities, and you’ll be in with a great shot at landing a job ASAP.

While in-person and over-the-phone networking is great, and should be something you spend time on, don’t neglect social media. Networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are incredibly helpful for job seekers these days, as they can connect you with a wide range of professionals in the one place. Through social media you can not only digitally “meet” people and start to build relationships, but you can also demonstrate your expertise, build your personal brand, and declare your interest in seeking a new role.

Make Your Application Documents First Class

Of course, you don’t want to apply for a position that has become available without having first-class documents to submit to recruiters, business owners, and the like. If you really want to beat out your competition and land your dream job, you must have a resume and cover letter that stand out for all the right reasons.

There are many tips you can follow to help you write the best CV and cover letter. For starters, always make sure your documents are completely up-to-date, and include all the relevant skills and accomplishments you have achieved, as well as any recent areas of responsibilities or positions you have been working in.

Layout is incredibly important too. Since hiring managers usually end up looking at dozens or even hundreds of applications for a role, they don’t typically have the time to read each word written. Instead, they scan over documents to see if they can find the type of information they’re looking for, such as particular education qualifications, job titles, results, and particular keywords. As such, you must send in a resume that isn’t one big chunk of text, but instead broken up with lots of sub-headings, bullet points, tables, and the like.

You also need to use a common, professional-looking font in a decent size, and proofread your documents multiple times to pick up typos, grammatical errors, and other mistakes.

Utilize Outplacement Services, Referrals and Testimonials

Lastly, when you’re hunting for a job, remember that there are often many resources you can utilize to help you in your search. For example, if you have been laid off, see if your current employer has outplacement services available that you can use to help you transition into a new role. In addition, think about how you can make best use of testimonials and reference letters from clients, past managers, co-workers and others.

You should also, whenever possible, make it public knowledge that you’re looking for a new role, as you never know who might have heard about a position that’s just about to open up that you could be the perfect fit for. Many jobs aren’t ever advertised because they are filled early on with a candidate that was recommended or referred directly.