What not to do is just as important as following all of the proactive advice you receive.
Don't get tongue-tied on the basics. If you met someone at a cocktail party and they asked what you do, could you answer in one clear, concise sentence? Many job seekers have huge difficulty with this because they're unsure of their identity now that their paycheck is gone. "Well, I don't really do anything now -- I'm out of work." Wrong answer.
Instead, offer a focused response: "I specialize in marketing for small businesses." "I'm a Special Ed teacher." Or "I work in retail sales."
Being out of work now is not part of your opening line. Your response is focused on what you do -- and then from there, as you engage in chit chat, you'll make it known that you're looking for your next opportunity.
Don't say, "I'll take anything." If you do, you wind up with nothing. No employer wants someone who'll do absolutely anything. Focus on what you're best qualified to do -- and target all of your efforts around that. Instead of asking, "Hey, do you know anyone who's hiring?" frame your inquiries around your unique skills, experience, education and interests. If you ask, "Do you know anyone who's hiring in retail sales?" it's much easier to receive a meaningful response than if you ask, "Do you know anyone who's hiring?" Help people to help you by being clear about what you do and what you seek.
Don't focus on your needs. Too many cover letters and objective statements on resumes focus exclusively on what you, as the job seeker, want. "I want stability, I want growth, I want this much money." All of that is no doubt very true, but that's not what any employer wants to hear. If I'm going to hire you, I want to know that you have the ability to bring value to my organization. I need to know that you understand the needs of my company and you have the skills, education, experience and interest to make a positive impact. Hiring decisions are about the company's needs, not yours. Ultimately you'll have to decide if it's what you want, too -- of course -- but your needs aren't first and foremost when applying.
Don't use one resume for every job. Tweak every resume to the needs of the position you're applying to. Don't assume that someone can read your one-size-fits-all resume and immediately know that your goal is to change fields. You must invest the time to prove that you understand their needs and that your resume is tailor-made for that opening.
Don't go negative. Recruiters shy away from candidates who give off negative vibes by complaining about being laid off, the unfairness of the job market, or their extraordinary frustration with the job search process. On the flip side, there are many candidates who've received the same pink slip, but when they're interviewing, they're positive -- and that positive attitude is contagious. Save your job search pain and frustration for pillow talk -- don't let it seep into your job-related conversations.