5:16 AM

Editors note:this article was writen by Tara Weiss for picture illustration by Zim

College graduation season is in full swing--and with it comes the struggle to find a job.

Job seekers take note: Instead of blindly sending out résumés to every help-wanted ad in your field, target companies and positions that are the right match and tailor your cover letters accordingly. Yes, it's a job in itself. But landing the right position is worth it in the end. surveyed hiring managers to find the most common mistakes job candidates make and how to avoid them.

On top of almost everyone's list is networking. Don't keep your job search to yourself. Tell friends, family and former colleagues about the type of position you're looking for. "People don't want to impose," says Jon Zion, president of eastern U.S. operations at the staffing company Accountemps. "But it's perfectly reasonable--in a polite way--to reach out to everyone you know to ask them to do you a favor. Most people are naturally decent and want to help."

In Pictures: How To Job Hunt The Right Way

The goal in networking with these people isn't to land a job immediately; it's to make more relevant contacts. Ask them if they know anyone who could offer advice or direction.

The simplest way to get across what kind of job you want is to design a profile document, says Joyce Maroney, director of the staffing company Kronos' workforce institute. It's a short description of the kinds of work and companies you're interested in, as well as the type of people with whom you'd like to network. When you're networking, a profile document "helps narrow the universe of people you should talk to," says Maroney.

Don't forget to use networking sites like LinkedIn. Most people like the idea of helping someone find a job--chances are someone helped them. And if they've signed up for LinkedIn, they likely want to help others connect. Also, utilize staffing companies that specialize in your industry. It's their job to know whose hiring.

Don't be so quick to say no to temporary positions. Those temporary positions often turn into full-time jobs. Even if they don't, working temporarily still bolsters your résumé. "Avoid doing nothing," says Zion.

Speaking of the résumé, most job seekers mistakenly describe their daily tasks in great detail. Instead, explain your accomplishments. For example, include large projects you accomplished or new business you brought the company. Did you increase sales? Put it on your résumé. Also, proofread your résumé and cover letter. Take special note of spelling the contact person's and company's names correctly.

If the job ad doesn't list a contact person, call the company to find out who receives the résumés. Addressing your cover letter to a specific person goes a long way--it shows you took the extra step. But it's just the first step in your research. If you get an interview, research the company so you can speak intelligently about it.

"It impresses prospective employers that you've taken the time to do your homework," says Zion of Accountemps. "It shows you're interested in the job because you're aware of their history, growth and achievements--not just because you want any job."

Since so many companies prefer résumés sent online, keep the formatting simple with a Microsoft Word document. Avoid fancy formatting and bullet points since that gets lost in the process.

Knowing about the company's mission, strategy and competitors goes a long way in the interview. The interview should be a conversation. The candidate is interviewing the company just as much as the company is interviewing him or her. That means you should ask smart, relevant questions that demonstrate your knowledge of the company.

When answering questions, use examples from your past work experience that demonstrate how you accomplished a goal. If you've recently graduated from college and don't have much work history, utilize examples from committees you've served on or leadership positions you've held.

After the interview, send a thank you note to everyone you met. Hand-written notes especially help candidates stand out from the crowd, since they're so rare in this electronic age. Anything that separates you will go a long way toward landing the job.

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