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Widen Your Job Search

How the Internet and other connections can help you find a new career

Whether you're recently unemployed or have been unemployed for a while, you've probably discovered that the newspaper has become less and less the source for finding jobs.

See also: Job Tips for 50+ Workers

Today's job search is a total engagement process with multiple approaches to finding employment. Don't rule out postings in a newspaper, but it's just a starting point. Take advantage of several vehicles, both online and offline, when looking for your next job.

Employment resource websites are gateways to potential jobs, advice, resources, employment articles and other useful information to support your search. AARP's Work & Retirement channel offers many resources for older job seekers, as well as for employers looking to diversify their workforce.

Check out other job search sites, such as Monster and CareerBuilder. If you're interested in positions in the federal government, you will likely need to apply through its job portal, USAJOBS.

Online job boards are also good resources. Some boards are geared toward older job hunters. But keep in mind these boards may not be updated frequently, so make sure posted positions are still open.

Networking is critical to your job search process. Sites such as LinkedIn are key resources for job seekers of all ages. These sites link you to the business and social circles of other people, quickly expanding the number of contacts you can make. Through your profile, you have a platform to share the kinds of work you do. You can upload your résumé online and even get colleagues to post recommendations about your work.

Networking sites provide venues to highlight your skills, find leads, share ideas and even find employers looking to connect with potential employees. Your LinkedIn page is literally a cyberspace calling card. You don't want to advertise that you're unemployed on these sites, however. Employers generally feel more confident reaching out to individuals they believe are employed.

Besides virtual groups, you can also check out brick-and-mortar networking organizations, such as 40Plus, a nonprofit networking club run by volunteers. It was established in New York in 1939 following the Great Depression. Today, the club has a Web presence and groups in many states. Members meet regularly for presentations, classes, information sharing and encouragement.

Some networking groups are primarily for people who are out of work. LaidOffCamp hosts events on employment and job search topics, and it allows plenty of time for networking.

This recession was particularly tough for older workers. Although career fairs provided information on preparing for employment, few jobs were available. Many companies weren't hiring, while others were flooded with applications for a handful of positions. But don't write them off. Job fairs still provide opportunities for networking and the potential for future offers.

Never overlook career counselors and mentors. They can provide critical advice and encouragement far beyond how to update your résumé. Sometimes people need help thinking outside of the box. Counselors may provide the boost you need to get ahead in your search process.

Finally, volunteering can help you find your next job. Employers want to know what you've done while unemployed. Explaining that you've volunteered to sharpen your skills or develop yourself is attractive to hiring managers. The same is true of returning to school or taking courses, which demonstrates that you're motivated to bridge the gap between jobs.

The recession may be over, but the length of time for being unemployed remains high for 50-plus workers. As we climb out of this economic period, AARP is here to help you be successful in your job search.

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