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Preparing Yourself To Look For Work

With the economy in recession and unemployment soaring, it's a scary job market out there.

But if you're looking for a new job in the New Year, there are steps you could take to enhance your chances before making your first move.

On The Early Show Saturday edition, career coach Sue Morem, author of "How To Get A Job And Keep It" (Ferguson) outlined several surefire tips that could help.

"First, be patient," Morem told co-anchor Chris Wragge, "because it may take time. The average job search can take, under normal conditions, maybe three months, "but it's not unusual to go six-to-nine months, and you have to keep in mind that most connections come through your own personal connections. So don't just rely on posting your resume or looking in want ads."

In addition:

Create a plan: You can't get where you want if you don't know where you're going. Decide what you want to do and identify your ideal job, but be realistic; know what you're striving for and what you will settle for. Then create an action plan. Set reasonable and realistic goals and a timeframe in which you will accomplish them.

Treat looking for a job like a job: You may not be employed just yet, but you do have a job: Your job is to find a job! Get up, get dressed and get going each day as you would if you were already working. This will help you get in the right mindset. The more time you devote to your job search, the greater the likelihood you will get the results you seek.

Practice interviewing: Interviewing is stressful. The more prepared you are, the less stressful an interview will be. Anticipate questions you're likely to be asked and practice your responses. Conduct mock interviews to get valuable feedback; better yet, watch or listen to yourself on tape. Don't wait until the night before the interview; practice a little bit every day.

Market yourself: Consider yourself a product to be marketed and think of ways to stand out by differentiating yourself. Know what makes you unique and focus on your strengths. Contact people you know and companies you'd like to work for. The more actively you market yourself, the greater your success will be.

Get a makeover: If you look like a student, you don't look like the professional you are trying to be. Invest in a great interview suit, professional-looking shoes and briefcase. Update your hairstyle, change your makeup, shave. Make sure your e-mail address and voicemail message send the "right" message. Do everything you can to "package" yourself professionally and most effectively. It may not be fair, but you're judged on your appearance. Don't let your image get in your way.