Managing Your Job Search During a Recession
During these tough economic times with high unemployment and the resulting fierce competition for limited jobs, a more aggressive employment search is needed to secure work. To be noticed among the dozens of candidates flooding companies and recruiters with impressive resumes, today’s job seeker needs to create a multi-dimensional plan that will dazzle prospective employers. This plan should be customized according to specific qualifications, experience, and industry knowledge that the job seeker possesses. Below are a few suggestions to consider as you design your own action plan to land that next job.
Create a job search plan
Research has shown that having a job search plan significantly increases your chances of landing a position that meets your expectations. A crucial element in a good job search plan is knowing what you want and being able to explain to a prospective employer why you are the perfect candidate. During the job search process, which often resembles a long-distance run, it is important to maintain discipline and focus to reach the finish line. To keep the process from bogging down, assign yourself quantifiable, time-sensitive tasks such as by making three phone calls daily to people in your network or sending five resumes out weekly.
Do your research
At the heart of your plan should be diligent research. Information about prospective employers is one of the keys to impressing an interviewer. You must be clear about what a company does, have a good understanding of its products and services, be able to identify the company’s key players, have a feel for the corporate culture, and understand the specific characteristics the company is looking for in a new employee. These insights will help you better prepare for the interview and demonstrate why you are the best person for the job.
Tap into your networks
You are a member of many different networks, some formal and others informal. You may not even realize you are a part of some networks. Use the power of these various networks to assist you in securing interviews and, eventually, job offers. It would be best to talk directly to current employees of the companies that most interest you. With so many applicants, you must stand out from the crowd, and being referred by a friend or colleague will certainly help distinguish you. Advertise your desire to connect with these people through all your networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, and alumni databases are effective options). This exercise will usually generate a few leads that can be further developed until you reach your goal.
Customize your cover letter and resume
Employers and recruiters will give your cover letter and resume only a cursory glance before moving on to the next candidate’s material if you do not grab their attention. Gone are the days of submitting the same staid cover letter and resume to all types of companies. In today’s competitive job market, you must tailor your material to the requirements of the advertised position if you want to be seriously considered. Companies want to feel secure they are hiring the right person. Make it easy for them by demonstrating you are the ideal candidate through your personalized cover letter and resume.
Fill your resume employment gaps
Everybody is well aware of the tough economic times the world is experiencing and the accompanying high levels of unemployment. For many of the recently unemployed, this has been the longest they have been out of work in their adult lives and they are worried about the growing holes in their resumes. Job seekers can address this problem in a few ways. They can take advantage of this idle time by doing volunteer work. This demonstrates to prospective employers that you are willing to think beyond your own interests and highlights your humanity. Job seekers can also update their skills by enrolling in training programs and obtaining additional certifications. Demonstrate that you are not one to passively let time pass by without being productive.
Mind the details
Pay attention to the details of your job search. This includes everything from making sure your information packet (cover letter, resume, application) is completely accurate to perfecting your in-person presentation. Make sure you show a complete and consistent picture. Be exacting in your preparation: remember the names of the interviewers; pay attention to your overall appearance; be punctual and follow through with all the tasks by the date promised; have a good understanding of the company and industry; follow-up with a thank you note.
Keep perspective and maintain your optimism
It is important to remind yourself that your unemployed status is not an indictment of your worth. Millions of other highly-qualified Americans are also out of work through no fault of their own, and like you, they are ready and willing to return to gainful employment. Keep in mind that we are merely in a temporary downturn in the economic cycle, that the situation will inevitably improve, and that you will once again be working. Until that time, keep your skills sharp and stay optimistic.