While the economy tries to show signs of recovery, the jobs market doesn’t. This fact makes looking for a job today challenging. With unemployment rates at the highest level for people across the board, including white collar workers as well as new graduates, the job market is bleak.

If you find yourself in a position of an employee in transition, facing a job search in today’s market is a daunting proposition. Knowing how to negotiate, and specifically how to negotiate in this market, will prove vital to your success.

Use a Recruiter, with Realistic Expectations

This economy is a time when having a recruiter is even more valuable than it has ever been. You need one to help you negotiate with and prove your worth to potential employers. Still, a recruiter isn’t going to be a miracle worker. Have realistic expectations for what a recruiter can do.

Today’s companies are asking recruiters to find very specific candidates for their job openings. What does this mean for the job seeker? It means that if a recruiter comes calling, you are a good fit. On the flip side, if you are contacting the recruiter, you may not be a good fit for the jobs on the recruiter’s desk. So, you need to go out there and do some looking in addition to working with a recruiter.

Targeting Your Search

Once you’ve sent your resume to a recruiter, it’s time to do a targeted search for a job. You might think that it makes sense to send your resume to every potential company, but this is actually less helpful than you might think. When a human resources professional has, literally, hundreds of resumes to browse, yours has to stand out. This means you need to target your search to those companies you are truly a fit for.

So how many should you target? Consider looking for about 10 companies that you feel you are a true fit for. Then, do your research to learn all you can about the company. What is its business model? How would your skills bring value to the company? What do the people in your network know about the company?

After this initial research, it’s time to learn some names. You need to know the name of the main decision makers in the company. If possible, have someone in your network make the initial contact, either through delivering your resume or making a phone call on your behalf. If you can’t use your network, start as high as you can in the company’s organizational flow, and send a carefully crafted cover letter and resume.

Whenever you are communicating with one of the companies, make sure you focus on the value you bring to the company. Ask for the opportunity to learn more about them. Ask for advice in your job search and career goals. Ask just about anything, except specifically for work. Let them come to you looking for work.

Finally, stay positive. No matter what the economy is doing, it’s not personal, and it can’t last forever. Don’t doubt yourself, but embrace your skills and learn to highlight them with skill. If you do, you’ll find that new job is not quite as difficult as you thought to get.