by Melissa Cohen
Any manager who has ruled out dozens of applicants to build exactly the right team can tell you 1,001 ways to sink your chances of landing your dream job. There are probably at least a few dozen examples of what not to do here. But as the job market picks up and competition intensifies, it might be more useful to look at what you should do to improve your chances of getting hired.
Investigate your Internet footprint. Before you send out that resume, figure out what employers will see when they type your name into a search engine. If your online persona needs a makeover, take care of that before you pursue a new job.
Find a stellar proofreader. You won't get very far if your first email inquiry addresses the wrong person or if your resume is riddled with typos. No matter how good a writer you are, find someone to edit your work before you hit "send."
Put your networking skills to work. Use social media networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter to engage with the influencers who can help you land the job.
Write a cover letter. Your resume can't explain why you decided to switch from economics to PR, why you didn't work for five years after graduation, or why you're well suited to the position. These are all things you can explain in a cover letter or introductory email. Write one.
Do your research. You can't Google the company while you're sitting in the interview; do that research beforehand, and demonstrate that you understand the business and know what you can offer if you're invited to join the team.
Remember what matters most to you. Are you looking for smart colleagues and managers from whom you'll learn every day? Do you care about a company culture that sees play as the perfect companion to hard work? Whatever matters most to you in a job, make sure to ask about it during your interview. You'll reveal a lot about the type of candidate you are, and you'll remind the interviewer that he or she is being evaluated, too.
Leave your baggage at home. Prospective employers want to hear about how you would complement their team and thrive in their environment. Leave information about the drama of your personal life out of the conversation.
Use your manners.
Write a thank you note – by hand or via email – and send it immediately after you leave; this simple thing will make you stand out from the scores of people who fail to take this step.