recession

eleven thoughts on finding a job in THIS economy (continued)

… continued from last time.

6. Don’t take it personally. This is a tough one. It’s HARD not to take being turned down as a personal rejection. It’s HARD to watch another great job  pass you by. But, just because you thought you were a great fit, doesn’t mean that their wasn’t someone who wasn’t better. This doesn’t mean you weren’t good enough, only that someone looked to be an even better fit. Should the company have communicated better and more often? Yep. Should the person you spoke to about the job not been such a jerk? Absolutely. They didn’t and that’s a reflection of them, not you. Right now, your priority is to find a job and taking time and effort to be mad at the jerks of the world is a luxury left for another time. Plus, sometimes the jobs we don’t get are the best things that happen to us.

7. Understand it’s a long process and never stop moving. Getting hired can take a month or more even if a company is very interested in you. Hiring takes time and the company’s timeframe is most definitely not yours. Your efforts can take months to pan out. And things can fall apart at the last minute because of factors far beyond your control. The lesson here is to keep applying, keep looking even when it seems that nothing is happening and even when it seems that you are a sure thing. Ever forward.

8. Talk to people. If your field has a professional organization, talk to the leaders. Take them to lunch and ask for their thoughts on what companies you might want to target, what regions are doing better than others, etc. Ask them who else you might want to talk to. You’re not asking them for work, you’re asking them for advice and most people enjoy giving advice and helping others out. Let people know you’re looking. One of my best leads once came from the husband of someone my wife worked with. I met with him and asked for his advice. He put in a good word for me with someone in his organization and it went from there. Another leader invited me to attend a regional conference and was kind enough to give me a passes to attend. I had never met any of these folks before contacting them and introducing myself. This experience taught me that people like to help. If you’re only applying over the internet and aren’t talking to people, you’re missing out on a great job hunting resource.

9. It’s a full time job finding a full time job. If getting a job is your #1 priority then you should be spending 40+ hours a week actively looking. Keep a log and record your time.

10. Keep records. Keep a log of who you’ve applied to, when, who you spoke with, outcomes, when you followed up, next steps, etc. This helps prevent opportunities from falling through the cracks, lets you know who you applied to (after a while, job postings all start to sound the same), and it helps keep you honest. I suspect it’s human nature to think we’ve done more than we have (that’s why diet and exercise logs are so useful) and accurate records help keep us honest. Records also let us analyze which approaches seem to be working best and which aren’t so that we can adjust accordingly.

11. Keep the faith. This is the most difficult thing on this list. It is so easy to get beaten down and feel like you’ll never make any progress. But defeat and bitterness shows through. It affects every interaction and become a self-fulfilling prophecy and a nasty downward cycle. No matter how low you feel, it’s imperative to keep the optimism and enthusiasm during interviews, when writing cover letters, and in every email and phone call. This is really stinking HARD! And it must be done.

There will always be some level of unemployment even in a thriving economy. Your strategy should be to set yourself apart. Clearly, I recommend a systematic, flexible approach base on the idea that finding a job is the absolute #1 priority. That’s what worked for me and what I’ve seen work for others. That said, it’s not easy. It’s never easy. But I hope it gets easier for you. Best of luck!

eleven thoughts on finding a job in THIS economy

I’ve been seeing more and more blogs, articles, and news stories about finding a job as the economy grinds on. From my experience as a former recruiter and someone who was laid off right when everything started to tank, most of them seem to leave out some key points or ideas.   Here’s the advice I’d give to anyone looking for work. Not all of it applies to everyone, but experience shows that most of it applies to most people.

 1. Give up your “shoulds”. Finding a job is your #1 priority and you don’t have the time or energy to spend on shoulds. The economy shouldn’t have failed. Your employer shouldn’t have laid you off. You should be able to maintain your lifestyle. You shouldn’t have to make sacrifices. They should know how qualified you are and give you a job. They shouldn’t treat job candidates that way.

All of this may be true, but it doesn’t help you find a job. In every endeavor, the people who are most successful get past the shoulds, get out of the victim mindset, and charge forward. It’s not easy to do, but when you’re in the shoulds, you’re in denial. Just because the ship shouldn’t sink, it doesn’t mean it isn’t sinking. You can argue all the reasons it shouldn’t sink or you can find a lifeboat. Your choice.

2. Don’t confuse activity with progress. Posting a resume on one of the big job boards is a start, but it’s not everything. Sending resumes to every single job posting, whether you’re qualified or not, feels like you’re searching, but that’s time that could be spent sending fewer but more targeted and customized resumes. Remember, the point isn’t to do a job search, the point is to get a job (sounds the same, but isn’t always).

3. Search nationally. There are a few who can’t relocate at all, but for every person in that situation, there are many more who could but really, really don’t want to. They are caught up in the fear of change and all the shoulds, and it’s a tough place to be. I sympathize: After being laid off, I lived apart from my family for five months until I could move my family. We couldn’t sell the house so we ended up renting it out and losing money each month. No fun, but it had to be done, and no one went hungry.

Although many areas of the country are suffering (and will continue to suffer), there are other areas where the local economies are just fine. Industries have been hurt, some jobs may never come back, but there are other jobs in other areas. Those who limit themselves to one town or even one state are really limiting their options.

4. Resume writing is a skill. People often thing that recruiters and hiring managers spend a lot of time going over each resume, analyzing it, thinking how that candidate will fit in the organization. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Each resume gets looked at for about 10-20 seconds. IF it catches their eye, they’ll look at it more closely. If not, it’s on to the next resume. (Of course, it may be scanned by computer and not even looked at unless the computer approves it first). Should it be this way? No. Is it this way? Yes.

Writing a resume so that it conveys all the information a person is skimming it for is a skill. Also, it’s really, really hard to write your own resume. Even those who are very good at editing other people’s resumes often struggle with their own. The best approach is to get input and feedback from others. Find people who are friendly, but not your friends so that they can give unbiased thoughts. Find someone in HR, or a manager you know, call up the career center at the college you went to, or hire someone to help. Once you have a polished resume, it may still need to be tailored to each job you apply for so that it emphasizes the most important skills for each job.

This is time, effort, and money well spent. After all, if your resume doesn’t catch people’s attention, you won’t make it to the next stage. Simple as that.

5. Interviewing is a skill. The interview is your chance to demonstrate why you are an outstanding fit for the position and the company. If you cannot convey that, you will not get the job. Further, studies have reported that many interviewers will form a strong opinion about you in the first few minutes. Should they? No, but they do.

People often think that they can just wing it or don’t even realize that interviewing is a distinct skill. I used to be terrible at interviewing until I became a recruiter, now I understand the types of questions people will likely ask and the information they are looking for. The good news is that you can learn this, too.

Go to the library and check out books on interview questions. Practice answering them with several different people. Can’t say it enough: practice, practice, practice. An athlete wouldn’t show up at the big game without practicing and you shouldn’t show up at the big interview without practicing. The best interviewing advice I received was to think of five different situations you’ve been in when you really did a great job and practice talking about those situations. Chances are, you can adapt those situations to any behavioral interview question (“Tell me about a time when you took initiative, handled change, had to assert yourself, etc.”).

To be continued…