Successful job hunters have, over the years, shared with me their “secrets for success.”  Here are eight of my favorite rules to organize your search while maintaining your sanity:

1. Remember: Your job hunt is a job. Treat it with the same professionalism that you would a job that gives you a paycheck. It’s easy to continually procrastinate and say, “I’ve got all this personal stuff to do, I’ll get around to job hunting next week.” At the other extreme you can become compulsive and spend every waking hour obsessing about the job hunt. Instead, set up work hours, an agenda, and goals for yourself every day. When your workday is over, leave the job hunt behind. Spend your off hours with those you love, pursuing your hobbies and interests, exercising, and living a balanced life.

2. Keep your knowledge and skills up to date. Maintain all your professional credentials, licenses, and certificates. Enroll in continuing education classes. Keep up to date with the “latest” in your field of expertise, and thereby you will demonstrate your commitment to excellence. Even if you are used to having your employer pay for these things and now have to pay for them yourself, it will be money well spent.

3. Stand out from your competition. Title your resume “{FIRSTNAME LASTNAME} Resume.” Then, whenever you send it out to a company, do a “save as” and rename it: “{FIRSTNAME LASTNAME} Resume for XXX Company.” It will show the employer that you aren’t just blasting it everywhere. Also, it will become easier to retrieve if you keep all your resume files in a single folder in your computer, and that way you will be certain to be able to find whichever version is relevant to the company with which you are speaking.

4. Find a way to make yourself findable. Make certain that you have a complete and compelling LinkedIn profile, and include in it a PDF version of your resume (without your phone or physical address). Contribute in a meaningful way to relevant LinkedIn Group Discussions. Attend local Meet-ups and professional association gatherings. Present yourself as a peer who just happens not to have a paying job at the moment, rather than as a desperate person seeking to become a peer.

5. Interact with three new people every day. Reach out to leaders in your field for informational interviews. Exchange business cards with people at networking events. Respond to authors who write thought provoking articles in your field. Remember that networking is about building relationships, not asking for help. It takes time and patience, but is well worth the effort.

6. Don’t take for granted that other people know what is second nature to you. In the hiring process, you build your reputation from the ground up, so you must explain with detail what you do, and how you do it. Don’t say, “I’ve been responsible for…” Instead say, “In my job I did…”

7. Guard your good name and reputation. Never do anything, write anything, or say anything that it would embarrass you for your spouse, parent, or clergy person to see or hear. Presenting what you have done in the most positive light is your responsibility. Lying about anything will get you disqualified and ruin your reputation.

8. Treat your next job as a temp job with benefits. No job in today’s economy is “forever.” Always strive for excellence in the workplace, and when you attain success make certain to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Maintain your networking habit.

Happy hunting!