The numbers for February unemployment are in, and they show the lowest jobless numbers in two years. The national unemployment rate has fallen to 8.9% , and there are signs that companies are ready to begin hiring again. If you have been looking for a new job, you might be able to land one more easily right now.
However, even with the improvements in the job market, there is still some pretty stiff competition. You need to stand out if you are serious about getting a new job — especially since some predict that the employment rate will not return to pre-recession levels for years. Here are five tips that can help you land a new job:
1. Target Your Efforts
Instead of just mass emailing a bunch of hiring mangers, be a little more targeted in your approach. Look for jobs where your skills are translatable. Then, take the time to tweak your cover letter and resume/vitae. Make sure that these documents are tailored to the job so that you seem to be a good candidate. Once you have a base cover letter and resume/vitae, it really doesn’t take too long to adjust it to fit the job you are applying for right now.
2. Improve Your Online Presence
Check over your online profiles. Is your Linked-In  profile reflecting your skills and the kind of job you want? Do your Facebook  and Twitter  profiles match what your Linked-In profile is telling the world? Clean things up and make sure you are sending a consistent message. Also, double check your blog postings (if you have them) to make sure that you aren’t ruining your chances at a company.
3. Use Your Network
Let your network know that you are on the job hunt. Members of your network can keep their ears open and let you know what they hear. Additionally, if a member of your network knows someone at one of the companies you are applying to, perhaps that person can help you find an “in.” Or at least recommend you to the people making the decisions.
4. Look Online
The Internet is a great place to make connections and find jobs. You can look on the mega sites like CareerBuilder  and Monster , of course, but there are also job listings on Craigslist . You can also look at sites like TweetMyJOBS  to help you find work. Another option is to check with niche sites. You can find a niche job site for almost every career field. Google the job title you want, and see what comes up. You might be surprised at the opportunities available to you if you are willing to move.
5. Follow Up
Follow up when you have sent resumes to companies, or after an interview. After sending a resume, you can follow up with an email or phone call after a week or so. Send a thank-you note (this can be done via email as well as with hard copy) to your interviewers. You can also follow up to find out about a hiring decision in seven to 10 days of an interview. Following up reiterates your enthusiasm for the job, and it provides a reminder to the prospective employer.