'Cracking the New Job Market' has helpful job-hunting tips

— -- With 6.1 million Americans now unemployed for more than six months, there's a ready market for Cracking the New Job Market: The 7 Rules for Getting Hired in Any Economy. Author R. William Holland delivers a step-by-step guide, sort of a paint-by-numbers approach to job-hunting.

Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the best-selling Nickel and Dimed, wrote the book's preface. She points out that, unlike many outplacement counselors who serve up the same advice decade after decade, Holland delivers timely tips that work in this era of online applications and company Facebook pages.

Cracking the New Job Market is no easy read, but applicants who read every word will mine hundreds of job-hunting hints. They'll learn how to crack the online application quagmire. Most readers will experience a couple of light-bulb moments, when they recognize situations they've unwittingly mishandled.

For those who wonder if all the jobs are hidden, Holland quotes a CareerXroads survey showing where larger companies find their new hires:

•Internal transfers and promotions account for 38% of all full-time positions.

•Referrals from employees, alumni, vendors and others constituted 27% of all positions filled.

•Company career sites supplied 22% of all outside hires.

•Job boards represented 13% of external hires.

Holland begins with how to tailor your résumé for the job you want. He says an unfocused résumé is like fishing without bait — if you catch something, it is strictly by accident.

His primo rule of résumé writing: It's not about you.

"Your résumé is not just a summary of what you have accomplished. It is a promise of what you can accomplish for someone else," he writes. That's where value creation comes in.

How to create value? Put yourself in the shoes of the employer, Holland says.

If your résumé isn't written specifically for the job you're seeking, a do-over is in order. Here are Holland's tips:

•The school you attended and your college major are much less important to an employer than what's in it for them. Because the job market is overcrowded, allowing your credentials to speak for themselves won't work any longer.

•Ask yourself what you can do to create more value for the employer than your competitor can. In other words, translate your background into what a company needs.

•Never assume that the connection between your experience and the company's needs is obvious. Connect the dots for the hiring managers. Learn what skills they seek by trolling the company website, reading industry magazines and checking the job posting carefully. Look for key words in the job description and on the company website — verbs and adjectives that describe the person they are seeking and the values the company espouses.

•Use active verbs to state your accomplishments, and include the result of your work. If you did it "in a limited time" or "short-handed" or "on a limited budget," make sure they know that.

Holland coaches job-seekers to quantify results they've achieved so that hiring managers are wowed. An example: "Developed and implemented a new order-entry system" will garner less attention than "Reduced order entry errors from 5% to 2% and sped the process 400% by initiating, creating and managing the implementation of the company's first fully automated, real-time, user-friendly, paperless order-entry system in a high-volume department. Completed the project within six months with limited budget."

The author gives stymied job-seekers professional-sounding phrases that can be used to create a four-paragraph cover letter good enough to prompt employers to at least scan your résumé.

He shows his readers how to patiently assemble a reference card that can be used to compile a résumé, write a cover letter or serve as a cheat sheet during an interview. The card lists all the applicant's skills, results and experience that dovetail with the traits the company seeks.

For those who are not digital natives, Holland devotes 10 pages to job-hunting with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It's not in-depth. The section on Twitter is two paragraphs; LinkedIn is 12 paragraphs.

If you land an interview, the book offers tips galore — from proper dress to listening techniques to the best stationery for a follow-up thank-you note. There's even a section on coaching your references to describe you in a way that will jibe with the company's current needs.

And, for parents with boomerang kids in the basement, there's a chapter on guiding your offspring to gainful employment.

You might lend this book to a friend, but don't chuck it once you've found a job. Holland points out the world of work has undergone a seismic shift, so the successful job applicant might be searching again in a few years.