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According to April 2014 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate stands at 6.3 percent, and that means an awful lot of people are pounding the pavement and looking for work. Searching for a job can be tough, and as MIT career development specialist Lily Zhang writes in a piece for the Daily Muse, many people set the wrong types of goals. Luckily, Zhang offers up “4 Better Goals for Your Job Search” — handy tips that are designed to help you focus your efforts and target the kinds of companies you might actually want to work for.

“Let’s be honest for a minute,” Zhang writes. “Clicking ‘Apply’ over and over probably isn’t fun, and you already know that small, actionable goals are more effective than trying to reach one lofty one.”

Read on to see what kid of “actionable goals” she suggests.

1. Target a Small Group of Companies — If you’re going to stand out to hiring managers, Zhang writes, you’ve got to tailor your approach, and the only way to do that is to research the companies you’re applying to. Zhang recommends making a list of 10 or 12 places you really want to work, and the best way to do this, she says, is to start with your dream company and go from there. On LinkedIn, there’s a feature called “People Also Viewed,” and that can point you toward similar firms.

2. Network, Network, Network — Everyone knows how important networking is, but Zhang advocates doing more than just attending industry happy hours. Using your list of target companies, look to schedule two informational interviews per week.

3. Put the Word Out — As Zhang puts it, you should “enlist your army” by sending out an email to everyone who might be able to help. What goes in this message? You want to explain who you are and what you’re looking for, and if you send it to one of those 10 or 12 dream companies, it doesn’t hurt to tailor the email to them.

4. Keep Busy — As you search for a job, make sure you sign up for one non-work activity per month. This could mean volunteering at a nonprofit or serving on a board of directors.


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