A friend of mine was kind enough to refer me to an executive recruiter. While I'm not executive level yet and didn't fit the recruiters customer profile, I am looking for a job for when I graduate in May and he was kind enough to share a few words of wisdom.
He told me about a new form of job searching that is significantly improving candidates' chances of getting hired. The technique is simple, but requires a great deal of research and creativity and a paradigm shift. Basically the idea is to add value to an employer before being hired, instead of just telling the employer why you may be valuable, or how you have been valuable in the past.
Here's an example: This recruiter asked me about some of the jobs I am considering. I told him I was looking at a marketing position with Abbott Laboratories in China. He asked me what problems Abbott may be facing in China and suggested that they were probably facing some sort of censorship. He suggested that I research what similar companies have done to deal with censorship in China and come up with a few solutions. This way, the next time I speak with a recruiter about the position in China I will be armed with conversation material. Instead of the interview being a formal get-to-know-you session, it can turn into a conversation about Abbott's struggles and possible solutions. The interview will turn into a team meeting between employees.
My recruiter friend told me that only about 5% of job candidates are using this skill, yet it is the most valuable skill that can be acquired to improve a candidate's chance. It isn't easy to train a brain to think like this, but it is worth the investment.