For many, with a new year means getting a new job. Maybe your resolution was to find a new job doing something you are truly passionate about. Alternatively, maybe you’ve been laid off and now its time to re-boot your job searching efforts. Regardless of the reason, there are a few job searching fundamentals that every job seeker must know. These fundamentals involve forming a solid cover letter and resume and how to follow up after you’ve submitted your materials.

The Cover Letter
The cover letter is your first impression. First, think of it as if you were meeting the employer in person. What kind of impression would you want to leave on the hiring manager? Your cover letter should include the date and, if you can, should be addressed to the person to whom you are sending it. The body of your email should address two main questions. First, why you want the position? Second, what qualifications do you have that make you a good candidate for the position? Your cover letter should begin with the first question, introducing yourself and outlining why you want the job. Next, write a few paragraphs outlining your past job experience. Highlight skills and talents that will make you stand out. In this job market, competition is fierce. Use your cover letter to make a good impression and help you stand out!

The Resume
Arguably the most important piece of your job-searching puzzle, your resume is extremely important. Take time to create or re-vamp your resume. Consider asking an outside source, such as an HR professional, to review your resume. There are three common mistakes that many resumes contain. First, watch out for misspellings. Nothing says “I’m lazy,” “I don’t pay attention to detail” and “I’m not qualified” like misspellings. It may sound harsh, but given the fact that you most certainly have competition, you don’t want to lose out due to misspellings! Next, watch your grammar. Words such as there, their and they’re are common mistakes. Finally, thoroughly explain your experience. When describing past jobs, have three or four bullet points that clearly and thoroughly describe your duties. Employers like to see specific tasks so that they can more fully understand your qualifications. Remember, your resume is a one page all encompassing document; it represents everything about you to employers! Invest time when making or revising your resume. It will pay off!

The Follow Up
As we mentioned, competition in todays job market is fierce. Follow up is key. Consider a few strategies. First, try following the business on Twitter or Facebook. This way you can learn more about the business and connect with them through mentions or messages. Don’t underestimate the power of special media. Use it to your advantage! Next, use LinkedIn to find current employees of the company. Consider adding them to your network. If they connect with you, send them an email stating who you are and the job for which you are applying. You never know who is involved in the hiring process. IN addition, he or she might pass along your resume to the hiring director giving you a better shot at an interview! One word of caution, don’t be a pest. Sending daily follow up emails is a no-no. Wait a week or ten days until you send a direct follow up email. In addition, after a few months, if you haven’t heard back, consider moving on. Think outside the box and use social media to get your foot further in the door!

We know job searching can be difficult, but don’t get discouraged. Hard work, motivation and the proper materials and strategy will ultimately pay off. Happy hunting!