We know the job search is tough. You’ve probably sent your resume to over 100 postings this week alone. You’ve tweaked your cover letters and used the appropriate keywords but you’re sick of sending applications in just to get a generic response – or no response at all.

With the number of job seekers submitting applications, standing out is as important as ever. Focusing on a different direction may change things. We’ve seen our fair share of resumes and portfolios, and can tell you that with some preparation you can be where you want to be. Read below for job search tips that will hopefully inspire you to try a new approach.

Differentiate yourself.

Establishing your personal brand is the single most important thing you can do different. This makes up part of the first impression that hiring managers or recruiters see when they review your application. Look at your personal brand as your own marketing campaign. Think about how you want to be perceived and review your application materials to ensure that the same message is coming across. Don’t be afraid to showcase your personality but maintain a consistent presence. Your website, blog, business cards, resume and portfolio should have the same look and feel. This is the first way you can start showing off your skills.

Try this: Choose three words that you want others to associate with you and your brand. Are there certain qualities you want to be known for? Have you thought about your personal mission statement? If you aren’t quite there yet, start analyzing the personal brands of people around you, looking for ways you can improve.

Learn something new.

Take time to brush up on any skills you may be missing while job searching. Educational resources are often free or inexpensive and can be a valuable tool in staying up-to-date. If the courses come with a certification, it’s also something you can add to your resume in order to fill in any gaps. However, creative trends will continue to evolve. You can start learning with these 10 websites to learn new things for free.

Try this: Familiarize yourself with one new trend a week, whether it’s a new shortcut or a new program. Take the stress off by not committing to becoming an expert – just to learning a little bit more than you knew before.

Meet new people.

It’s easy to focus too much on making the job application perfect, but nothing works better than meeting someone face-to-face. Meet ups or similar events in your area may be the best place to network with potential employers and recruiters. Stepping out of your comfort zone will not only boost your confidence but talking with people you’ve never met will also improve your public speaking skills and your elevator speech.

Try this: Commit to ten minutes with each new person you meet. In this short time, practice introducing yourself and what you do. Listen to what the other person does and try to find qualities that you can relate to. How do they present themselves? If you are at an event for an hour, by the time you leave, you’ll have learned at least six new things about yourself and have six more new things to work on based on what you learned from others.

Focus on quality vs. quantity.

Now that you have given your personal brand some thought, focus more on the quality of your resume, instead of the number of resumes you submit. Sending the same resume to 100 job postings a week may not be the best use of your time. Instead, find the positions that are in line with where you want your brand to go and tailor your application to them. Show how your qualities line up with those of the company and the position. The benefit is that you will not only come across as more focused to the hiring manager on the other end, but you will also start honing in on the types of jobs that you really want.

Try this: Narrow down the qualities you are looking for in your ideal job. How do they complement your personal brand? Target jobs that are specific to both your skills and your brand so that the reasons to hire you become that much more obvious.

Stay positive.

Remember why you’re doing all this: to do what you love. Take some time during your job search to create something for yourself. Maybe that’s revamping your portfolio a little bit at a time or maybe it’s creating art for the sake of art. Whatever it is, don’t forget what you love most.

It’s easy to get discouraged, but a negative attitude spreads. You want to be your best self when searching for a job, especially when meeting new people. You never know which one could be your next referral. If you are excited about your craft, it will show.

Try this: Do something different today – whether it’s one of the tips from this article or something you’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Shaking up your routine is the surest way to gain a new perspective and some inspiration. At the very least, you’ll have some fun!

Looking for more job search tips? Check out our career resource guides for tons of tips on your resume, portfolio, and interviewing skills.