A business research organization that tallies online job postings said last week that job vacancies nationally grew by 93,000 in December from November.

That dovetails with other signals that the job market is improving modestly. Around the country, many metro area jobless rates are sinking by a percentage point or so from a few months ago.

But any job hunter who is scouring online job postings and expects to land a position simply by responding to advertised openings may not hit pay dirt. The competition is simply too fierce.

Many of the long-term unemployed have returned to active job hunting because their unemployment checks have run out or because they sense a hiring uptick.

Those job hunters are joined by employed workers who are desperate for a change. And there are at least two college graduate classes eager to finally kick-start the careers for which they studied.

The long and short of the 2012 job hunt is that you can’t be reactive. You have to get out in front of your competitors who will just be clicking responses to job postings.


-Talk to everyone you know about where they work. Is their organization in need of workers? Do they give hiring preferences to candidates referred by current workers? What’s the best way to express interest in the organization?

-Read the local daily newspaper, the local business news publication and trade journals in your area of interest. Who’s growing? Who’s moving? Who has expressed a need that hasn’t even appeared yet as a job opening?

-Get out from behind your computer and attend professional association or trade group meetings, chamber of commerce meetings, neighborhood business association meetings and alumni or fraternal organization meetings. Tell the people you meet what you’re looking for (and make sure it’s appropriate for their organizations). And listen carefully to learn about unpublished opportunities.

In short: Act. Don’t react.

(c)2012 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)