The job market it seems, is improving more slowly than the economy is. It can still be difficult to find a job even if you are fully employed now. What can you do that will help you to land your next job?

Identify your strengths and interests

It would be nice if we could transform ourselves into “the total package”, and be a perfect fit for the job we want. In reality however there are very few perfect fit situations when it comes to jobs. The most productive thing that you can do is to become a master at what it is you do well.

Employers usually have a fairly long list of qualifications that they look for in candidates for any job. But there are certain qualifications that are more important than others. For example, if you are in sales, your production counts much more heavily than your organizational skills or even punctuality.

It’s important that you are strong in whatever it is you are good at. That will be most of what you’ll be selling to prospective employer.

Get any training you need, and shore up any weaknesses

If your strengths are what you will be selling to a new employer, then you will need to do what is necessary to maximize your ability in those areas. Some of that will come about by just applying yourself more fully to your job. But some may come only by taking extra steps.

This can include taking courses that will help move you toward expert status. You can take formal college courses, but you can also take online courses that will help you get the additional training that you need. For example, let’s say that you are good at making presentations to large groups. Take a course in public speaking that will help you to polish your presentation even more.

You can do the same thing with your weaknesses. That isn’t to say that you have to eliminate any weaknesses that you have, but if you have one or two that have been holding you back in your career, you may need some help in those areas too.

Network, network, network

The days of blasting your resume all across the employment universe are over. Not only is that an ineffective strategy, but it’s a surefire way to expose your job search to your current employer.

The better approach is by networking and you can do that online. Websites such as Linked In, Facebook and Twitter make it easier than ever. Set up a profile on those social media sites, tailoring it to the work that you do. From there, start networking with other people in the same industry.

In this way you are getting to know potential employers from the outside in. You’re not approaching them about a job, but rather about topics of mutual interest. That will offer you an opportunity to demonstrate your competence in your field in a low-pressure environment.

Even if you don’t come across people who will hire you directly, you may develop a network of people who will refer you to employers looking for your qualifications.

Tailor your resume and cover letter to the job you are applying for

When you do send out your resume and cover letter, make sure that they fit with the qualifications requested. There’s no way to design a single resume that will fit all the various jobs that you will be applying for. You’ll have to customize them as the need arises.

Your resume and your cover letter should be viewed as advertisements for your services. You should use both documents as an opportunity to sell your skills and qualifications to a new employer. If you fail to impress a prospective employer with your resume and cover letter, you’ll never get an interview.

On any job ad that you see, be sure to study it carefully and be aware of the various qualifications they are looking to fill. Your resume and cover letter should make it clear that you are the person for the job. If your qualifications don’t really fit, it’s best that you don’t apply for the job at all.

Master the interview

A strong resume and cover letter will get you in the door to an interview, but they will not get you hired. That will only happen if you’re strong in the interview. A lot of people can put together a good-looking resume, but it’s when you’re actually speaking to people face-to-face that you are demonstrating that you really know what it is your resume contains.

Be ready for your interview ahead of time, and never think of it as a mere formality. Study the company you’re interviewing with, paying particular attention to any problems or challenges they face. Be ready to discuss those situations and what you can do to help.

Rehearse answers to questions that you are likely to face, until you’re completely fluid with your answers. Have a list of intelligent questions to ask the interviewer that will further demonstrate your knowledge and qualifications. Finally, if you are interested in the job, be sure to convey your interest at the interview.

It’s a tougher job market than it has been in a long, long time, so you will need to step up your performance during the job hunting process if you want to land that next job.

Kevin Mercadante

Kevin Mercadante

Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.