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More than 6 million Americans have been out of work for at least six months. Hunting for a new job can be a demoralizing process - the resumes, the cold calls. But there are strategies that work.

Here's NPR's Wendy Kaufman with some tips.

WENDY KAUFMAN: Matt Youngquist, the president of Career Horizons, sees lots of people who've lost their job. He tells them finding a job presents the same challenges as taking a product to market. But the product they're marketing is themselves.

Mr. MATT YOUNGQUIST (President, Career Horizons): First, you've got to know what you're selling and to whom. Then, you've got to package it up properly. Then you get into - kind of that execution phase.

KAUFMAN: Los Angeles-area resident Terri Garfinkel didn't waste much time after being let go from her job at a high-end retail bakery. She cried, drove home, and then opened her laptop.

Ms. TERRI GARFINKEL: And the first thing I did was check my employer files, and I keep pretty good records of everywhere I've worked. And I went through the list and sent out emails to any of my ex-employers I felt I would want to work for again, and let them know that I was available and looking.

KAUFMAN: Her effort paid off. She was hired for a direct sales job by someone she had worked for, just briefly, a decade ago.

Most people still hunt for jobs primarily by looking at the posted offerings. Websites like Indeed.com�and�Simplyhired make searching easier. But just sending out resumes - even hundreds of resumes - in response to ads probably won't get you very far because as career coach Matt Youngquist explains, most jobs aren't posted or advertised publicly.

Mr. YOUNGQUIST: At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published. And yet, most people - they're spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the Net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances, realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.

KAUFMAN: But what if you don't know anyone who works in a company you're interested in? Youngquist suggests using the people search page on the networking site LinkedIn to find people who could put you in touch with a hiring manager. That personal connection is especially important now. With so many people applying for jobs, it's hard to get noticed. How hard? We asked Ashley Stirrup.

Mr. ASHLEY STIRRUP (Vice President of Product Marketing at Taleo): You typically see about six times the number of applications as you have employees in a company. So for a 30,000-employee company, that would be 180,000 applications a year.

KAUFMAN: That's right, 180,000 applicants. Stirrup isn't making these numbers up. The company he works for, Taleo, is a leading provider of software that companies use to sift through job applications.

Mr. CAMILO RUAN (Former Pharmaceutical Sales Representative): I remember it was, you know, kind of an intimidating scene.

KAUFMAN: Former pharmaceutical sales rep Camilo Ruan recalls one third-round interview he had last year. He was on one side of a hotel conference room table. Several of the firm's hiring managers were on the other.

Mr. RUAN: And I just remember looking at the stack of resumes and, you know, it was about 60, 70 resumes that they had in there and they had, you know, two positions open.

KAUFMAN: He didn't get that job, but landed what he describes as a great one, as an account executive at the international package delivery company TNT Express. He even makes more money now than he did before.

Mr. RUAN: I would say the smartest thing that I did was look at the job hunt as a job itself.

KAUFMAN: He'd get up early and every day make six, seven, even eight contacts -phone calls, customized emails with resumes and cover letters that focused not on past performance, but on the future. He used his knowledge of a company and its products to highlight what he could do for them.

And yes, job seekers, cover letters do matter. As for how many contacts a job seeker should be making, Youngquist says 100 a month is a bare minimum.

Mr. YOUNGQUIST: It takes X number of contacts to get this many appointments to get this many chances of actually getting a sales opportunity or a job. I do think volume is a big part of it and a lot of people, their efforts are just really anemic.

KAUFMAN: And, he adds, there are more jobs out there than many people think. But you have to be smart and disciplined about finding them.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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