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You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to recognize that job seekers face obstacles today that they never imagined in the past. A lot has changed in the last few years, and you’ll need to adjust if you want to succeed. Competition is intense and more and more companies are turning to temporary, or contingent, workers in place of full-time employees. Since the pace of change is unlikely to slow, if you want to be successful, it’s up to you to keep up. Related: How To Build An Effective ‘Marketing Yourself’ Plan Make sure you are prepared to compete successfully. Find out how to market yourself in today's economy:

Evaluate And Identify Career Trends In Your Field

Open your eyes and ears and keep abreast of what’s hot in your industry. You need to know what skills and experiences employers seek for the jobs you want. How can you uncover this information?
  • Review job descriptions; what keywords show up again and again?
  • What topics are keynote speakers including in their presentations at your professional conferences? (You can discover this online, even if you don’t attend.)
  • What topics are thought leaders in your field writing about and discussing? (Read their blogs, newsletters and social media updates to find out.)
  • When you have informational interviews with people in your field, what do they identify as their biggest obstacles, pain points and concerns?
  • What do online tools (websites and social media sites) tell you about your industry?

Choose A Career Specialty

Even though employers are doing more with fewer people, the trend is to hire candidates with niche expertise. If you are a Jack (or Jill) of all trades and can do a lot of things, but don’t have a specialty area, it’s time to decide what you’re really good at and focus your energies on being the best in the business. Need some help deciding what you should market as your go-to skill? Use the research you did to evaluate trends in your field to discover the most salient issues in your industry. If necessary, enroll in continuing education courses to fine tune your unique talents. Then, highlight those niche abilities. You will stand out in a crowd of applicants when you market your specialty expertise. Then, you will be able to make your targeted case via strong application and marketing materials.

Demonstrate Your Career Expertise And Expand Your Network

Don’t just say you’re an expert in your field – show people that you have your finger on the pulse of your industry by using social networking tools to highlight exactly what you know. When you post frequent, smart updates on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn and engage in conversations with colleagues and thought leaders, you prove you have useful ideas and opinions. The result? You’ll grow the number of potential allies in your network who are willing to refer you for job opportunities. Statistically, referrals are the best way to land jobs, so you’ll be well on your way to getting a position.

Learn How To Market Yourself

Using social media to demonstrate your expertise is a great first step, but it’s not enough to just engage in topical online conversations. You need to think about how to market yourself as if you were a company. Even if you aren’t seeing it in your field yet, studies suggest freelancers will eventually make up about 50% of the workforce, up from 35-40% currently. If you can’t describe what you know and why someone should hire you, expect long periods of unemployment in your future. Review your online bios; do they tell a compelling story about you? Does your LinkedIn headline include keywords and a pitch to inspire someone to want to learn more about you? Are you taking advantage of all the opportunities to make sure people who want to hire someone like you can find you online? Do you have a professional avatar that makes you appear friendly, yet intelligent? All of these are key elements to help you maintain a competitive presence in your field and have a chance to land jobs – and gigs.

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