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6 steps for landing your dream job
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According to the experts, industry contacts offer the best insider advice. All you have to do: Call and ask.

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For names of industry contacts, read trade publications, says Rothberg. If you're a finance major, read finance publications, such as The Wall Street Journal, combing them for names of hiring managers -- the people quoted by the media. "Look for press releases and interviews with managers. Those are the people you want to talk to."

Also turn to your personal network and ask the people in it if they know anyone who works in your field, says Lester. "That way, when you call an industry contact, you can say 'Hey, I'm a friend of Sue's.'"

Either way, once you have a name, call the person and ask if you can meet with her for a few minutes over coffee or lunch -- your treat. Tell her she has a job you aspire to and you'd love to hear about how she got there, says Rothberg.

"People generally love to hear themselves talk," says Lester. They'll be flattered and won't say no, unless they're really busy.

Try to get several interviews for different points of view, and if possible, meet at the person's workplace to see the environment, she says.

Raise real concerns when interviewing contacts
Besides asking them how they got to their current position, raise difficult questions about work life, says Lester. Inquiring with questions such as "Does this job get boring?" and "Is it hard?" and "Why is it hard?" instead of "What do you love about your job?" will really give you the nuts and bolts of what it's like to have the job.

By meeting and interviewing people in the field you are interested in pursuing, you'll not only get first-hand information about the job, but you should be able to walk away with names of people who might want to work with you. By networking and getting referred this way, eventually someone will hire you -- or at least hand you some priceless career advice.

All for the cost of a cup of coffee or a meal.

You can also expand your web of contacts by attending job fairs and meeting representatives in the industry, joining local groups and sending e-mails to people you find in a Google search, says Jonathan Carey, a technical recruiter for GCR Professional Services. "Networking is key."

4. Clear up background insufficiencies before the job interview.
Once you figure out what the career ladder looks like for your dream job, start building a competitive resume. That means making sure you have all the necessary skills, certifications and degrees in your background so you can nab the job you want.

"The market is saturated, and employers can be selective," says Carey. "Stay current with your skill set."

Next: "For your resume's sake, get a local address."
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