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Getting to the Finish Line Faster

These days, nobody seems to be in a rush to hire. That's bad news for any job seeker who's looking to make a move -- and worse for anyone who's already on the street.

Career experts say, however, job candidates have ways to shove a slow-track interview process onto the fast track. One is to have an offer in hand that you can flash in front of the most coveted prospective employer. That's easier said than done when hiring has slowed. Yet if job seekers increase the number of potential employers they're talking to, they can also boost their chances of netting more offers, says Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, a national career-counseling organization. Wendleton suggests that applicants contact at least 6 to 10 places where they would want to work.

"We want people to end up having three concurrent job offers," she says. "That way, they can go back to the employers where they want to work and say 'I didn't want to take that job without having the chance to meet with you.'"

BEYOND JOB TITLES. Job seekers also have ways of making themselves stand out in a tighter market. So the interview process is taking longer than you thought? Use the extra time to better hone your message, says Louise Kursmark, president of Best Impression Career Services, a Cincinnati resume-writing and career-services business. Kursmark says job seekers tend to focus too much on job titles and too little on what they actually did in these jobs.

Instead of noting, let's say, that you have 15 years experience as a manager at Procter & Gamble, mention that you have 15 years background in cutting costs and increasing profitability at P&G. "It's a little more competitive," says Kursmark, author of Sales & Marketing Resumes for $100,000 Careers.

And remember, the squeaky wheel often gets the grease, Kursmark adds. At the end of the interview, ask the recruiter when you can expect to hear back. If you don't get the call, check in at least once a week, she says. "Don't be afraid that you are annoying them until they say 'Go away!'" Kursmark says. "Sometimes that pressure will force the issue." By Eric Wahlgren in New York

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