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Some secret weapons for job-hunting

Like everything in life, job hunting is about increasing the odds in your favor. No, there are no guarantees and life is not fair. You've heard that a million times - but here are some secret weapons that make your chances just a little bit better than the next guy. I used to throw this stuff into my classes under the heading of "professionalism". Call it what you want, but there are a lot of little things that can give you an edge. Here they are:

• Respond. Whether email, text, letter, or in person, respond right away. No, not after lunch, or whenever you get around to it. Your message needs to get there first. If you're the kind of person who procrastinates, and puts thing off until the last minute (ha ha ha), guess what? The person who just got your job probably isn't.

• Evaluate. Just because you don't know when to use "your" or "you're" doesn't mean that you won't get a job. If it's a job editing or proof-reading, you probably won't. But so few jobs depend on that. Find what you do right - and follow that path. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths.

• Show up. Fifteen minutes early. Even if it means that you have to go hang around the local Starbucks for 45 minutes.

• Look good. I know it's not fair to be judged by personal appearance, but, uh, didn't we already establish that life isn't fair? Let the next guy show up with uncombed hair and spinach between his teeth.

• Follow up. Give it a few days and then ask if they have made a decision. If you're wondering if you should appear anxious to get the job, yes, you should. There may be a lot of people who interviewed who were as qualified as you. Get in touch with the decision-maker and make it just a little bit easier for them.

Yes, these secret weapons are tiny, but they add up.