Tighten the belt in 2009

If you made a new year's resolution to improve your finances, a new Business Monday feature can help. Tighten the Belt in 2009 will offer a weekly personal finance problem:

Problem: Your job hunt is hitting a dead end.

Solution: Start by researching your online reputation. Enter your name into search engines to see what employers might find. If you have a profile on a social-networking site, such as Facebook or MySpace, be sure to remove any inappropriate photos or comments.

Invest time in networking: Studies show that most jobs are filled through referrals. Inform friends, family, former colleagues, alumni, fellow parishioners and others that you're looking for work and that you'd welcome their help. Attend business events, such as industry conferences and seminars that cater to your career field. Create profiles on career-related networking sites, such as LinkedIn, ExecuNet and Plaxo, and participate in discussion boards to develop online relationships.

Meanwhile, consider hiring a career coach who can critique your résumé and interviewing skills and suggest ways to improve them.