Happy New Year!
It’s 2012 – a new year, a fresh start, resolutions to really work hard on getting a job.
By the end of 2011, you were probably feeling tired of being out of work, feeling bored without enough challenging and interesting things to do every day. Missing a schedule. Missing income!
What’s changed? Hopefully you have changed. I don’t think the job market has changed much or enough, at least not yet. There are hopeful signs in the economy, but the official unemployment rate is still 8.6%, and “experts” agree that the real rate of unemployment and under-employment is much higher.
So, do you give up? Do you just give in to another year of frustration and despair? NO NO NO!
To start, I do not have a one-size fits all, magic plan. Instead, I think that there are many things that you can do, and therefore, you increase your chances that something will work. What’s the alternative? To wait for luck to find you – that someone will knock on your door and offer you a good-paying job? No.
Are you like many people I know who don’t believe they’ll find a new job, and yet continue to do the same one thing – that is, apply online, and wait and hope and wait and hope, and yet knowing it probably won’t work anytime soon?
Or are you ready to do whatever it takes? I know that job searching sucks! You start each day hoping that something will work, and not knowing what if anything will actually work. Over time, you feel more rejected and more dejected. So, you get more easily distracted – laundry, TV, coffee, the refrigerator, chores, errands, etc. None of these things will help you find a job – you know it, but it sure beats looking for a job! Doesn’t it?
So, the prospects don’t look so good. Nothing’s been working, so what’s the point? The point is that you want to get back to work – to put your experience and your skills to work, to exercise your brain every day, to earn a living, pay off your bills, have some fun again, and to re-discover your self-worth.
So, I ask again, ARE YOU READY TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES? If so, I do have many suggestions – you probably have read or heard most or all of these before, but it’s time to review and to refresh:
- Do target your resume with the appropriate keywords and phrases to match the positions you’re interested in. Recruiters search by keywords and phrases. Same goes for your LinkedIn profile.
- Do post your resume online (Monster, CareerBuilder, Indeed, SimplyHired, Dice, etc.) – there is little likelihood that someone will find your resume, but I know people who have been found and hired this way. Update your resume at least weekly so a new date stamp is applied keeping your resume “fresh”.
- Do search and apply online – use the major sites like Monster and CareerBuilder and use either Indeed or SimplyHired to search the aggregate of the other job sites and company websites. Set up automated job searches and email alerts to cut down on your daily searches. Try searching with different criteria, including different sets of key words and phrases. DO NOT rely on this method to find a job – some people do, typically after hundreds or thousands of applications and many many months.
- Do use LinkedIn – complete your profile, build your network, join Groups, and search for more connections. When you apply for a job online, search LinkedIn for direct and indirect connections to help you get your resume in front of someone at the company. Think of how much more effective it is to have a hiring manager or even a recruiter look at your resume through a referral source vs. your resume sitting in their database un-detected and un-viewed. Also, recruiters are searching on LinkedIn for candidates, so you have to be there, have a complete profile, have a network, and have recommendations. You can also use LinkedIn to connect with people you don’t know and increase your visibility. Networking does bring “hidden” jobs to you, but you do have to be savvy at it. I can help you with LinkedIn and networking.
- Do keep in touch with your friends and former co-workers, clients and vendors in-person, by phone and online – email, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. If they aren’t thinking of you, they’re not thinking of you when they hear of a job opening that fits you. Don’t dwell on your job search and being out-of-work, but do maintain your relationships.
- Do consider and pursue temp/contract work – contact as many temp and contract agencies, and keep in touch with them on a regular (weekly) basis, even if they don’t call you back. Be very flexible as to the work, the pay, hours, etc. to get started and on their “hot list”. They have many more candidates than jobs, so you want to get on their radar screen. When they contact you about a position, respond ASAP or the job may be gone.
- Do volunteer – volunteering gets you out of the home, connects you with people, gives you something to do, develops/enhances your experience and skills, and updates your resume and LinkedIn profile with current activity. Also, when you’re giving to others, you realize you’re not empty and without value.
- Do go to job fairs – research and target companies and jobs of interest. Bring resumes and business cards. Dress professionally, speak with the recruiters, thank them for coming, ask them some questions, build a rapport, get their business card and follow-up. Recruiters go to job fairs to meet candidates, and not to get resumes. They can do that online.
- Attend a couple of job support groups – don’t expect to get a lot of job leads, but learn from one another, and make new friends. It helps to know you’re not alone. Bring your ideas and job leads to the group – look to give and to help others.
- Pair up with one or more job search buddies. Meet once a week, set goals, hold one another accountable, and share ideas. Give positive and helpful feedback.
- Be flexible for jobs that are not what you’re really looking for. Take a shorter-term perspective if you’ve been looking for a long time. In time, let’s hope the job market improves, and you can find something better. For now, it’s generally better to get back to work, and earning a living, than to stay unemployed. Recruiters and hiring managers do discriminate against the unemployed, so it hurts your marketability and hire-ability the longer you’re not working.
- Be creative with job possibilities – consider your experience, skills and interests, and look for jobs that may be different than your previous position(s), but where you might be a match. Utilize your network to find something different; don’t rely on your resume for these positions as recruiters look for the near-perfect match only.
- Be creative with job search methods – think outside of the box. That sounds cliche, but it works. Try different things. Approach each challenge with the belief that you can and will find a way, if you just do it. You face obstacles which become opportunities. Each success builds on itself. Instead of just doing the same thing and rejecting new options, open up your mind, ask for suggestions from others, and try them. Don’t give up when they don’t work right away. Applying online hasn’t worked well, but you keep doing it, so give new ideas and new options a good long try.
- Do exercise, eat well, and sleep enough – keep yourself mentally and physically healthy. Keep a positive demeanor out in public, on the phone, via email, and online. Do not post negative comments on Facebook, etc. Be very discreet about with whom you share your frustrations.
- Play games and sports, hike, bike, have fun. Create endorphins and have some fun. Life is not over.
- Organize your day. Make a to-do list for job search. Split up the time throughout the day. Take breaks, but don’t spend a lot of time with non-job search activities. Give yourself credit for what you do accomplish each day; don’t beat yourself up for what you don’t do. Just do better the next day. Praise yourself for each effort.
- Take it one day at a time. Don’t try or expect to climb the mountain at once. Take small steps with all of your job search efforts. We’ve agreed that it is not fun, it is frustrating, and it often seems futile. However, each small step moves you closer to your goal. You only need one decent offer, and the nightmare will be over.
Don’t give up! Don’t wait for luck alone to solve this. You have to make the effort, each and every day, one foot in front of the other, and keep moving forward. You took 9 – 15 months on average to learn how to walk. You fell down often, even got hurt, tired and frustrated, but you kept trying and learning, and you learned how to walk. It’s the same now. I know you’re tired. You’re disappointed. You don’t understand how things got so bad. They did, but you can do so much about it. I know so many people who have found jobs through a variety of different approaches and efforts. Sure – it takes much longer than what we’re used to. The world has changed – things are not the same, so accept it, and do something about it. You can’t change the macro environment, so don’t even try. Change your world, your life. You can do it – I know that you can!
I encourage you to read my other posts about resume preparation, networking, LinkedIn, etc.
If you need and want some help, let me know. I want you to succeed, for you to get a new job, and for you to set off in a new and positive direction. Happy 2012 – make it so!