The new year brings a fresh start, and for many people, that means the search for a new career. Job-hunting websites expect hiring to improve this year, and January is a particularly busy time because new recruiting budgets take effect. So whether you've been out of work for a while or are simply looking for a change, here are some tips to ensure a successful job search.

Fine tune your resume: Having a great resume is about more than just impeccable grammar and an easy-on-the-eyes font, according to Your resume should be chock-full of keywords targeted to the job you want. These can be found in the posted descriptions of the kind of job you're looking for, and using them for your online resume can help ensure your name comes up in recruiters' searches. When it comes to listing previous positions, be sure to showcase your accomplishments instead of simply listing responsibilities or tasks performed.

"As the years go by, the likelihood of remembering details of every accomplishment will more difficult," said Alex Soto, CEO of ResumeLance and Soto Marketing Communications. "In 2012, jot down what you've achieved at your job – it will serve a useful purpose in optimizing your resume, and in the end, your chances of landing the job of your dreams."

Work with a recruiting or staffing firm: A new survey by CareerBuilder shows that 36 percent of American companies will hire contract or temporary workers in 2012, up from 28 percent in 2009. So working with a recruiting or staffing firm could be a great way to jump-start your job search. And even though some positions will be short-term, many will turn into permanent positions; CareerBuilder's survey found that 35 percent of those companies planned to turn their contract workers into regular employees.

Take advantage of social media: If your Facebook profile is all play and no work, or if your LinkedIn page is ghost town, it's time to brush up on your digital networking skills. Job seekers should maintain an active, relevant presence on both sites, according to Jobfox, and they should use the sites to make as many connections as possible.

"Here is the real one-two punch: Target your resume to the job you want and get that resume into the hands of the hiring manager through a reference," said Peggy Padalino, VP of sales and client services at Jobfox. "Your chances of landing that job just skyrocketed past your competition."

Network, network, network: It's important to follow through with all leads, no matter how small. Jobfox says research shows that lengthy periods of unemployment are directly related to passive approaches to job searching. The best skills and most impressive experience are not always enough on their own – a large network ensures that your name and resume land in front of as many hiring managers as possible. Reach out to colleagues past and present to foster second and third-degree connections, and remember that traditional courtesies – like a thank-you note after an interview or networking meeting – can still go a long way in maintaining good relationships.

Be patient, but persistent: Hiring cycles are still long and drawn out, according to Be patient after your first interview -- there are lots of variables that go into making a hiring decision. On the other hand, persistence pays off -- don't assume that simply submitting your resume to an online applicant tracking system will ensure it will be seen by the right people. calls this the "resume black hole" and says it's smart to find another way to get your resume in front of an actual person.

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