With the US economy in the tank and unemployment hovering steadily at or just under 10%, not having a job or losing your job is one of the worst things that can happen. The average time spent searching before finally landing a job is between 4 and 6 months, however it isn’t hard to find people who have been out of work for a year or more. My former classmate is struggling with the challenge for months now. She was used to doing hospitality jobs before quitting some time ago. But now that she’s ready to work again, she is having a hard time in landing a job.
The good news is, though, that it isn’t impossible. Even a cursory glance at your daily paper or online job sites will reveal that people are hiring, which is good. The down side is that there are a LOT of people gunning for that same position. If you work it right, however, you can be the one that gets the call. So how do you stand out and make the perfect impression in a crowded job market? Some tips which I will personally testify to:
You’re unemployed. Right now, looking for a job IS your job. Treat it as such. Keep detailed records of where you have applied and who you have talked to, as well as any and all correspondence and follow up. If you are not normally this organized, then get organized. It will cut down on a lot of your frustration.
Update your resume. If you have to, hire a professional resume writer to go over it with you and make it as sharp and informative as possible. Include reference letters from past employers or teachers. Make it a solid, eye catching presentation of your talents and abilities.
You have not because you ask not. Networking is key. Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a job. You’d be surprised at how many working relationships are born out of conversations that begin “Well, I know this guy….”. Don’t hesitate to mention it at every opportunity.
Contact past employers, co-workers, or friends and give them your situation. The more people who are aware of your situation, the better off you’ll be. I actually received a referral from a friend who is a business owner on the first day of my job search. The referral looked promising, until another company bought them out and all bets were then off. But it did demonstrate how easy a potential opportunity can drop in your lap.
Make use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkdin, etc. This is the current wave, and the opportunity for getting your name out to a great many people is greater now than at any point in history.
Utilize the power of the internet. Online job postings tend to be more current than their printed counterparts, since online posts can be taken down as soon as the job has been filled (unlike a print ad, which hangs around forever). Various internet sites are better for different sources. CraigsList is excellent for finding someone in the artistic or creative community, but not the place where you’d want to find your next CEO. Many sites such as monster.com or hotjobs.com offer many different categories of jobs to search through.
If you must use the printed medium, utilize the Sunday paper employment section. It will be the single largest one of the week, with the most to pick from.
Attend job fairs, but don’t hold out hope that you will get picked up “on the spot’. I haven’t met a person yet that ever got a job through a job fair. Typically though, it is a great way to find out what companies are in your area, and pursue them from there.
Contact recruiters or headhunters to assist you in your search. Be warned, though, at the moment, recruiters are also overrun with people seeking their services. Getting on board with a recruiter may be just as difficult as finding a job has been.
Set daily and weekly goals for yourself. Apply to a certain number of jobs each day (or week, because we all know that some days there just isn’t anything worth pursuing). Call a certain number of people or companies. Be patient and be tenacious.
Consider going back to school. You’ve got the time, so why not use it to improve yourself and add to your list of marketable skills? Classes are available through your local community college, and many courses are available online. If you haven’t yet completed a degree, do so now.
The situation may be bleak, but it is not hopeless. Patience and persistence will get you there. Remember, you may get a lot of “no’s”, but it only takes one “yes” to change everything. That is your goal.