With an unemployment rate of 9.6% as of August, competition levels are high for those precious few jobs. Luckily, with some good advice and a little luck, you can be on the road to professional fulfillment – or at least financial stability. With these tips, you can be sure to hit the high score and land your perfect job. (Rebounding from a stint of unemployment can be a frustrating thing to do. These tips should soften the blow. Check out How Unemployment Affects You (Even If You're Working))

IN PICTURES: 7 Interview Don'ts

+1: You apply for a job with a cover letter.
Since most of us apply for jobs online, it can be tempting to leave out the cover letter and simply send a short message in the body of the email. However, hiring managers still want to see your cover letter – it may be a bit awkward to write, but it helps narrow down appropriate candidates as well as assess your professional writing skills.

-5: You don't include any message with your resume.
Whether because they are technologically unsure or simply trying to send as many resumes in as possible, far too many people not only exclude the cover letter, they also neglect to write anything in the body of the email. All the recruiter sees is an email with an attachment – no message, and often not even a subject line. The image this presents is either "I'm too busy" or "I don't care enough about this job," and neither is going to land you the gig. (Find out what to avoid when writing a cover letter; read 7 Cover Letter Blunders.)

+1: Your application is complete and sent in on time.
Congratulations! Your resume and cover letter are up-to-date, well-formatted and tailored to that particular job. Your application contains no spelling errors or missing information. Now you can just sit back and wait. Or can you?

+5: You follow up on your application.
Following up – appropriately - will help keep your name fresh in the hiring manager's mind, and demonstrates that you care about that particular job – not just about working anywhere. You may be applying to many places at once, but make sure you take the time to learn a little about the company and the position before calling in to follow up. Having a solid grasp on what the company does, who their target market is, and what the position entails will all help to set you apart as a candidate who knows who is diligent and ready to start working.

IN PICTURES: 6 Millionaire Traits That You Can Adopt

-100: You follow up inappropriately.
Appropriately is the key thing to keep in mind when following up. Calling everyday and explaining tearfully that you can't buy a new iPhone until you start working isn't going to win you any points. It will likely land you in unemployment jail, do not pass Go or collect $200.

+10: Your resume lists specific evidence that demonstrates your prowess and talent.
When it comes to resumes, it's a numbers game. How did what you have done translate into real world results and, ultimately, make the company money? That could mean you exceeded sales goals, brought in new clients, or set up new procedures which led to measurably increased productivity. Whatever it is you do, make sure you can back up how well you do it with solid evidence. (For more on how to write a resume, read 6 Resume Must-Haves.)

-10: You lied or divulged proprietary information.
No employer wants to hire someone who will spill their trade secrets to other companies, so why would a hiring manager take a chance when you might do it again? Never include private statistics or dollar figures that your previous employer hasn't divulged publicly and which they wouldn't want to divulge publicly. Similarly, if there are inconsistencies in your resumes – or outright lies – don't expect a call back.

The Bottom Line
These are just a few easy tips that will help you gain points and complete your task of scoring a new job. Whenever you are unsure, try and look at yourself from your prospective employer's perspective, and make sure you are presenting yourself as a model employee and person.


For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: Poverty Rates Increase - And So Do Millionaires.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    Broker Or Trader: Which Career Is Right For You?

    Both brokers and traders buy and sell securities, but there are some subtle differences between the two careers.
  2. Professionals

    Financial Career Options For Professionals

    A career in finance can take a business professional down many different paths.
  3. FA

    The Basics of The Series 79 Exam

    Passing the Series 79 exam is usually necessary for anyone who wants to work in investment banking.
  4. Professionals

    10 Steps To A Career In Hedge Funds

    The first step to getting your hedge fund career started is to be sure you really want to work for a hedge fund. If you do, it’ll show in your actions.
  5. Personal Finance

    University Donations: Which Schools Got the Most

    A closer look at the staggering $40.3 billion donated to colleges and universities in 2015.
  6. Professionals

    Business Analyst: Job Description & Average Salary

    Learn the different types of business analyst careers available; understand the skills and education needed and the salary you can expect to make.
  7. Entrepreneurship

    How To Make Money With Domain Names

    Domain names are hot commodities in today’s tech-centric world, and for good reason.
  8. Professionals

    How To Get A Job On Wall Street

    Although Wall Street has its share of problems, finding people who want to become traders isn’t one of them.
  9. Professionals

    Financial Analyst: Job Description & Average Salary

    Understand the types of career paths you can take as a financial analyst, and learn the education and skills you need to launch a career in this field.
  10. Entrepreneurship

    Top Resume Strategies For New Grads In Finance

    Your resume is the key to getting that first great job out of college. Here’s how to get it noticed.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What's the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics?

    Microeconomics is generally the study of individuals and business decisions, macroeconomics looks at higher up country and ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does a financial advisor need an MBA?

    Obtaining a license as a financial adviser does not require an Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree. The Certified ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Student loans, federal and private: what's the difference?

    The cost of a college education now rivals many home prices, making student loans a huge debt that many young people face ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    The asset management industry has a variety of different career paths. Depending on what asset management area you would ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
  2. Discouraged Worker

    A person who is eligible for employment and is able to work, but is currently unemployed and has not attempted to find employment ...
  3. Ponzimonium

    After Bernard Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme was revealed, many new (smaller-scale) Ponzi schemers became exposed. Ponzimonium ...
  4. Quarterly Earnings Report

    A quarterly filing made by public companies to report their performance. Included in earnings reports are items such as net ...
  5. Dark Pool Liquidity

    The trading volume created by institutional orders that are unavailable to the public. The bulk of dark pool liquidity is ...
Trading Center