Looking for employment in a down economy can be discouraging. But if you’re unemployed or trying to get a better job than your current one, you need to make sure that you employ a blend of tactics. Getting paper applications, networking and sending out resumes to influential people in your industry is still important, but if you’re not harnessing the power of social media, you’re missing out.

Change Your Social Media Paradigm

If you still think of social media purely in terms of casual social interaction and humorous status updates, you need to step up your game. It’s a brave new world and if you’re not leveraging Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for professional networking and job searching, you can bet the person who will land your dream job is.

Your LinkedIn page should work as a perfect complement to your resume and it’s also a perfect forum for highlighting educational accomplishments. If you experienced great academic achievements, university fellowships or studied for an online degree while holding down a full-time job, that can go a long way to showing a potential employer your work ethic and ability to excel. It’s a good idea to look at all your social media profiles from the perspective of a potential employer.

Make sure you present an image that’s professional, tasteful and that maximizes rather than minimizes your appeal to a potential boss.

Get Innovative

It’s easy to fall into a rut when you’re job searching. But remember, going through the motions of a job hunt and staying busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being effective.

A new trend that’s catching on quickly in the United States may help you avoid tunnel vision and feeling ineffectual in a lengthy job search. Job searchers, as well as freelance workers are pursuing a strategy called “Co-working.” A lot of folks come together to work in the same physical space. It essentially recreates an office environment.

This may sound odd, but this makes sense for a few reasons. These folks may all be pursuing different projects, but sharing the same space allows for networking opportunities that wouldn’t happen otherwise. And if you’re unemployed, co-working makes sense because you’re more likely to treat job-hunting as a job. There’s a lot to be said for maintaining a routine of going to the office everyday and treating your job search seriously.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Just because you’ve gotten good at social media doesn’t mean you should forget about good, old-fashioned human interaction. People and relationships matter. You need to leverage personal contacts for employment possibilities.

And you shouldn’t feel guilty about it either. Friends and acquaintances don’t mind steering you toward possible job slots in their companies. If I have an opportunity to advance the financial prospects of a friend by slipping their resume to a person in my organization that has pull, I’m always more than happy to if they look like a great fit.

So develop a great social media strategy but don’t forget to use those soft skills with face-to-face networking as well. And if you really want to boost your chances of finding your dream job, consider relocating too.

In spite of a down economy, there are geographic pockets where job creation is going on. Getting in tune with that and realizing that you need to put yourself where the jobs are can sometimes be the answer. Keep all these tactics in your job search arsenal and employ them when it’s appropriate. Your new job may be a lot closer than you think.