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Don't apply for openings at the expense of creating opportunities. Your greatest competition is for positions that are advertised -- and yet, that's where job seekers spend the bulk of their effort applying for jobs. In addition to applying for relevant openings, you should also think about creating opportunities. Come up with 20 companies that you'd love to work for -- and create a specific pitch about what you could do for them, even on a contract or freelance basis.

Bring a brilliant business idea to a manger or business owner, and you'll get an audience. I've hired many people when I didn't have a formal opening because they brought me an idea I couldn't refuse. Small businesses are ripe for this, as are large corporations or nonprofits. The key is having a great idea that you're uniquely qualified to plan and execute. Explain what you know about the organization and why this is the right time and the right idea. Plus, it's easier now to land a part-time or freelance opportunity than a full-time staff position, so you're leveraging this growing trend

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