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Finding a great job is not just a matter of having the right credentials. The search itself involves a variety of challenges and rewards. With a positive attitude, it can be a terrific learning experience. Along the way you can gain invaluable skills, knowledge and experience.

(1) Set some goals, make a plan

Take some time to think and write about where you are today ...and where you'd like to be. What are your hopes, values and dreams? What would you like to be doing if anything was possible? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Roles you've enjoyed, not enjoyed, would like to develop further? Set some specific, achievable goals that will set you off in the right direction. Then write down steps (a plan) on how will work towards these goals.

(2) Get connected

Subscribe to lists, websites and publications that carry job postings. Just as important, sign up for those that *aren't* outwardly about employment, but cover issues and topics that interest you. You'll learn a lot; hear about related events, networking and volunteer opportunities; and be among the first to see any postings that come up. Create a folder of bookmarks to your favourite job search sites and organizations.

(3) Get involved

If all you do is look for advertised jobs, you're missing a lot. To learn about "hidden" opportunities, become an active member of the community. Find issues and organizations that interest you íV then participate at events, volunteer, get involved!

(4) Demonstrate your abilities

Demonstrate your abilities through your words and actions. This applies to your communications; your job search process; volunteering; plus all other interactions with potential employers or coworkers. Saying that you have what it takes is no match for demonstrating it in action.

(5) Research before you apply

If you're interested in a posting, read it thoroughly. Take notes. Make a printout and use a highlighter. Look around the organization's website, including the "About" or "Organization" sections. Do a quick internet search on the organization, sector, issue or role. If you have time, go to the library or a bookstore. What you learn could prove invaluable even if you don't get hired for the particular position.

(6) Be professional

Be professional íV neither too formal nor too informal íV in all your communications with the employer. Pay particular attention to the application requirements. Do they want a resume? (If in doubt, a resume and cover letter is usually the best bet). How and when do they want it submitted? If you don't do what is asked íV or in any way make things inconvenient for the employer íV you're putting yourself at a disadvantage.

(7) Show some attitude

Show some attitude ...and respect. Try to put yourself in the employer's shoes and think about their needs, obstacles and limitations. Think about how you could be of value to them. If you've ever been an owner or manager, you know how much it takes to run an organization or project (and how much of this is taken for granted). Your search is likely to be much more successful if you approach it with initiative, creativity and a positive attitude. Nobody "owes" you a job íV the future will be what you contribute to and create.

(8) Improve, improve, improve your resume

Remember that the employer knows nothing about you except what s/he can deduce from your application. There is an art and science behind writing a resume. It's all about effective communication íV and is not as obvious as it might seem. Your cover letter and resume should *demonstrate* your purpose, clarity of mind and more. By improving your written materials, you're also improving your self- awareness and communication skills.

(9) Write great cover letters and correspondence

Try to anticipate the employer's questions. Why are you interested in this job? Why do you think you'd do well in this position? How would you overcome any missing skills or roadblocks? What have you done in the past íV paid, volunteer or at school íV that demonstrated your interest, ability and commitment? Spend time on your cover letter and make a great first impression!

(10) Act quickly

Even if the deadline is weeks or months away, it's good to apply as soon as possible. Sometimes the later applications aren't considered as thoroughly (or at all). On the other hand, if you've just missed a deadline but are really interested in an opportunity, there's no harm in trying.

(11) Respect the employer's time

The person who is doing the hiring also has many other responsibilities and may not have time to talk or correspond with applicants. Do your own research, if at all possible. Don't ask for more information unless you really need it and it's not available in the posting or on their website. If the posting says "no phone calls", don't! Write down your questions and ask them after the employer has shown interest, such as at the interview.

(12) Create your own job

When most people look for work, they compete for existing jobs. Why not create your own? There's no lack of things that need doing. Do some research, participate in events, volunteer, etc. Then write a proposal to an organization that interests you, demonstrating how you and your project or idea could help them achieve their goals. If they like your idea, they might be able to fundraise for it. Or you could write a grant proposal or other fundraising ideas, for their consideration. If you can't find an existing organization, start your own.

(13) Don't be discouraged

Don't let yourself be discouraged. It's been said that every job search is a series of No's followed by a Yes. Each "No" takes you one step closer to the moment when both you and the employer say Yes. Keep a positive attitude and make the best of what you learn along the way!

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