Career Advice: Spring Clean Your Job Search

Baseball is back. Flowers are in bloom. Garage sale season is on. And everyone you know is frantic to shed those last few winter pounds so they can rock their favorite swimsuit come June (not to mention clean out their closets so they can find that blasted bathing suit in the first place).

But when you're job hunting, organizing your closets and summer social calendar shouldn't be the only to-do's on your spring cleaning list.

If your winter search for work has met with limited results, it's time to give your job-seeking strategy a sprucing up, too. Because come beach season, the only things you're going to want to dust off are your barbecue recipes and margarita glasses.

Updating your resume and LinkedIn profile are great places to start. But looking good in print and pixels is only a fraction of the battle. If you've spent the last season (or three) trying the same tired old job-hunting tactics, it's time to shake loose the application cobwebs and try something new.

VIDEO: Tory Johnson explains the most common mistakes and how to fix them.
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So before Memorial Day whizzes by and we slide clear into leisure season, let's talk about how you can clean up your job search.

Stop Banging Your Head Against the Wall

By now, you've probably heard it said 100,000 times that networking is king and the job boards are a sucker's game. But if an unlikely method of drumming up viable job leads is working for you, who am I to argue?

Heck, I know someone who knows someone who knows someone with no prior TV writing experience who got hired to write for "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" by answering a Craigslist ad. I'm betting you've heard similar success stories.

That said, if a particular aspect of your job hunt hasn't turned up a single lead, it may be time to take a step back and try something new. If you've spent the past six months hitting every job fair in town or trolling the job boards from dawn till dusk with nary an interview to show for your efforts, it's time to make room in your schedule for some new maneuvers.

Network Smarter

If you hate to network, you're not alone. But I think people are too quick to equate networking with hawking aluminum siding. To me, "networking" is just code for "e-mailing or hanging out with people who have similar professional interests."

To take the pain and suffering out of networking, Michael Farley, a business development professional in Boston, practices what he calls "reverse-networking."

"I try to share opportunities I come across with friends, peers and colleagues," said Farley, who's currently employed but likes to stay connected with others in his profession should he find himself in the job market again.

"I do not ask for anything in return at the time. Reverse-networking is my way of giving back and earning the right to ask for assistance later on."

Of course, if your requests for assistance go nowhere, it's probably time to expand your network and add a few folks with some recruiting pull into the mix. That's what Brit did. To increase her odds of finding a new position, the Midwestern university professor recently upped the number of professional conferences she attends per year.

"Conferences are really the best place to network in academia," said Brit, who didn't want her last name mentioned for obvious reasons. "People have to actually meet you in person to find your work interesting and to remember you."

Brit's efforts have paid off: she recently received three job offers.

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