Long gone are the days of turning a resume into an interview and an interview into a job on the spot. As the number of jobs created decreases and competition increases, standing out from the crowd is essential.


Professional career coaches now say you have to do more: Get connected, brand yourself and tap into the hidden job market.

Lack of the right kind of information can hurt job seekers, said Robb Johnson, local career coach and author of "How to Find a Job in Jacksonville." Some myths about job hunting need to be dispelled, he said.

One myth is that the Internet is the best and only tool for job searching. It can be useful, but only for those who know how to properly conduct research on it.

"Don't think of the job boards [online]," Johnson said. "Going about job hunting that way is almost certain doom."

Most jobs are not advertised. These jobs make up the hidden job market - hidden from the job-seeker because of lack of knowledge on how to tap into it.

"This makes the process frustrating, difficult, filled with disappointment and rejection," he said. Johnson is offering free job hunting workshops at Jacksonville's public libraries on some Saturdays this summer.

Although job prospects can seem bleak, he frequently finds success with his clients.

"There are thousands of vacant jobs in Jacksonville." The key is knowing how to find them when many aren't advertised.

"Inform yourself." The most common mistake people make is jumping in with too little information or the wrong type of information. Look for businesses that would hire you with your skill set, Johnson said.

Fifty to 75 percent of his clients come to him because they don't know how to sell themselves.

"You're running a sales campaign. The product you're selling is yourself."

Identify your top skills

Marilyn Feldstein, career coach and owner of Career Choices Unlimited, agrees.

"Human beings have a hard time selling themselves," Feldstein said.

Figure out what your transferable skills are, she said. Pick your top three to five skills and be able to articulate them to anyone from prospective employers to the person in line at the grocery store. The more people you talk to, the more doors you open.

"People like to help each other," she said. "Everyone has been touched by this economy. People feel your pain."

Feldstein is an advocate of leveraging connections in professional organizations, and there are many in Jacksonville.

"Get involved," she said. "The more people you meet, the more advocates you have. We all need advocates."

Spend time with people in the field you want to work in, she said. This will help you find leads and tap into the hidden job market. She has also had success with her clients. It's very possible to find a job or career in this economy, but she warns about how job hunting time is spent.

"The very worst thing you can do is spend 100 percent of your time at your computer sending out resumes." It's a great tool and resource, but nothing takes the place of meeting people, she said.

Feldstein recognizes that many people are being laid off. This is her busiest year of the eight years she's owned her business, she said. While her goal is to get people into careers where they thrive, she sees the need for short-term jobs. Know your financial situation, she said. For those taking temporary jobs, keep your goals in mind.

"Recognize the short term and be diligent about recognizing your long-term goals," she said.

Specify your keywords

If you do have an online resume, make sure to include specific keywords, said Tyra Tutor, vice president of corporate development at MPS Group, a staffing company headquartered in Jacksonville. This could be the difference between being No. 2 or No. 20 on an Internet search. The more specific the keywords, the better. If you have experience with specific software, make sure to add it.

Also, contact local staffing companies, Tutor said. Some companies staff attorneys and others staff construction workers. Leave a resume with multiple staffing companies that match your skill set.

Also, consider working a lower level job at the company where you want to work. When things begin to turn around, you'll have a foot in the door, she said.

Finally, start all over again. Contact people you have already contacted, Tutor said. A position may have opened up. It's about timing.

The demographics of Robb Johnson's clients have changed during the 18 years he has been in business.

Ten years ago, most of his clients were in their middle 20s and early 30s. Today half are over 50, he said.

He gets all kinds of people, from school teachers to executives of large corporations, some are jobless and others are afraid they may become so.

"I have had grown men and women crying in my office. They want a job, but it is far more than that," he said.

Johnson's business is busy. His phone rings 10 to 15 times a day, but the best part is getting a call from an excited client who has found work, he said.

Johnson's next workshop is Saturday at the Pablo Creek branch library at 1 p.m.

maggie.day@jacksonville.com, (904) 359-4184