Five controllable factors that everyone hoping to re-enter the job market should include in their list.

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Looking for work is tough, particularly for the long-term unemployed.

Charles Purdy, career-advice expert for, says a sense of helplessness could take those who believe they’ve tried everything to find a job out of the market completely.

“Oftentimes, people who have been unemployed for a long time or stuck in a job rut for a long time feel there’s nothing they can do,” says Purdy, who has experienced long-term employment himself. “I want to tell these people, ‘I know it’s difficult, but you haven’t tried everything yet.’ ”

He outlines a list of five controllable factors that everyone hoping to re-enter the job market should include in their list.

Limit yourself to short-term obtainable goals. One mistake that derails many job seekers before they even start the search is setting abstract goals that are too large for them to conquer, says Purdy.

Goals such as “getting a new job” or “getting a promotion” would be better served if individuals examined what specific actions they can take to bring them to fruition, he says.

“Sit down and make a realistic plan for how you’re going to achieve the long-term goal of getting a new job or a promotion.”

Assess your skills gaps and limitations. Years spent out of work or in a position with little variation can make it difficult for any candidate who wants to compete with someone who is fresh out of college or who has an updated certification.

Purdy says job seekers should assess their skills and knowledge gaps to decide what type of education or professional development can help to take their careers to the next level.

“Even if it’s taking classes in Mandarin because the company has an office in China, you have to think of ways to make yourself attractive to a new company or your current employer,” he says.

Check and revise your job-seeking material. Beefing up your resume and putting together a solid cover letter are obvious steps, but job seekers should make sure they’re customizing materials for every position they apply for, says Purdy.

Improve the quality of your professional networks. Now more than ever, it’s not what you know, but who you know that makes the difference that can lead to a job. One of the best ways that job seekers can get their names out to leaders in a chosen field is to make better acquaintances with their colleagues.

In addition to pursuing local and national professional organizations, Purdy reminds job seekers to use social-networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to connect. They also should look into smaller, niche professional organizations.

Become valuable within your network. Establishing contacts is one thing, but building actual relationships with those contacts that make them comfortable enough to vouch for you professionally is key, says Purdy. Become active within professional organizations in a way that stands out.

“Build a basis of good will that can be traded on later,” he says.