With the nation’s unemployment rate at 8.2 percent, competition is still high among job seekers. Beyond having your professional profile posted across your preferred social media sites and keeping an up-to-date resume and LinkedIn profile, try these tips for a leg-up in your job search:

1. Use Google Alerts

Set up alerts using Google Alerts to notify you when news breaks about your job, industry, or a company you are interested in applying for. Google Alerts is simple to set up. Just type in a topic you are interested in and Google will continually check for updates on your topic of interest. If there is any pertinent news, Google Alerts will send you an email with a link to the news. This is a quick and easy way to stay current on a particular industry or company news and ultimately, can help you during an interview or career fair.

**Quick tip: Google suggests being as specific as possible in your alerts. You can use quotes when searching for something specific, e.g. “Jobs at AT&T”.

2. Set Up Job Alerts

Be efficient in your job search. Decide on a focus and stick to it. Once you have chosen what you would like to focus on, set up job alerts on iHispano.com weekly or daily. You can specify which jobs will be sent to you via email by keyword, location, or industry. Set as many alerts as you would like. Don’t waste time pouring through 180,000 jobs; use technology to your advantage and apply only for jobs that truly interest you.

3. Use Your Connections

As the old saying goes, “It’s not about what you know, but who you know.” Monster’s BeKnown app on Facebook will populate your professional information into a profile. Use this to connect with friends and acquaintances professionally. If you are lacking references, use Beknown or LinkedIn to request them. Each site makes it easy to do, and gets the job done without stepping on any toes or making anyone uncomfortable. Ask to be “endorsed” by a former coworker. A pre-populated email will be sent out from you asking for a recommendation. Although this is the simple way, be sure to take the extra time to personalize each message sent – you are asking for a favor, after all.

4. Harness the Power of Your Networks

What could be better than finding a job at a company where one of your friends is employed? Having a friend inside will give you a window into company culture and working with friends can be especially satisfying! Connect with Facebook or LinkedIn on iHispano.com to populate a list of your professional contacts and their positions. See where your friends are working and if their company has any openings for a position that interests you. Apply for the job and send your friend a message highlighting the job you just applied for. Ask your friend if he or she feels comfortable mentioning your name to the HR department. A recommendation can go a long way to open up a door for you.

Rachel Barsky is one of the Channel Managers at iHispano.com, the nation's premier professional networking site and job board for Latinos in the United States. Follow iHispano.com on Twitter @iHispano and on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest career tips and job opportunities.

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Rachel Barsky is one of the Channel Managers at iHispano.com, the nation's premier professional networking site and job board for Latinos in the United States. Follow iHispano.com on Twitter @iHispano and on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest career tips and job opportunities.

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino