December 31, 2009
For many, spring can symbolize new life, new ambitions, and -- if you're lucky -- a new job. But as many seasoned job seekers can tell you, finding a job in a troubled economy can be tricky at best.
Persistence and creativity may be the two most needed characteristics if you're planning on finding a job in the current economic climate.
As employers have less time to scour hundreds of resumes, job seekers should highlight exactly how they will fit into the company, says John Kniering, director of career services at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.
Quality over quantity
"The practice of blitzing the known universe with identical versions of your resume will result in increasing levels of frustration and no meaningful employment opportunities," he explains. "Ironically, the notion that less is more is especially true during a recession. Only the most well-researched inquiries, especially when accompanied by courteous networking, will reach the person who can best help you to find a job."
The bulk of a job seeker's time should be devoted to finding out what it is you want to be doing, researching potential employers and performing informational interviews with those in the know, says Kniering. This will help focus your efforts and reduce any unneeded work on your part.
For example, a few hours of research followed by a telephone call to a single person can often be more effective than blindly sending your resume to hundreds of employers.
"During an economic downturn, employers will have less time available to second guess your goals or your potential link to their business," he adds. "It is imperative to think from the employer's perspective: How will your experiences, skills and education potentially fit into [the] organization?"
Network, network, network
Putting yourself in an employer's shoes is vital, but getting the initial job lead in the first place is even more important. Online job boards have become an integral part a job search for many, but job seekers should not stop there. Every resource available should be utilized, says Kathy Sweeney, a nationally certified resume writer based in Chandler, Ariz.
"With companies receiving thousands of resumes now versus approximately 200 before for each application, the likelihood of obtaining a position from an Internet posting on a job board is slim," she says. "So job seekers need to set up lunch meetings with individuals they know and communicate their need for a position. If the individual job seeker has a great reputation, this usually leads to informational meetings with a decision maker in a company."
Sweeney strongly recommends dressing for such meetings as though you are dressing for a job interview. First impressions are crucial, especially during your job search.
Job boards, recruiters, career expos, networking contacts both in and out of your industry, and trade associations all can be utilized to your advantage. Sweeney suggests joining local chapters of industry associations and even recommends joining their membership committees. Letting your peers know you're in the job market can result in some crucial contacts, and, hopefully, a job interview.
The vast majority of trade associations can be found online along with their various chapter locations. If there isn't one near you, consider e-mailing the organization's president and offer to head up a chapter in your city. But don't stop there! Beef up your contacts by joining professional networking sites and making your own personal website that features your resume and examples of your work. Get creative.
"For entry-level individuals, the job search can last from two to six months," Sweeney says. "For managers and executives, the job search can take from six to 12 months. From speaking with many of my executive-level clients who are currently employed, they are telling me that their companies are having a hard time making revenue forecasts, and, therefore, have not even finalized their budgets."
Sweeney says budgets are typically finalized by Oct. 1 and predicts that most new positions will be posted around mid to late January.
Give them your digits
Once you've made a few contacts and done research on the companies you'd like to work for, refine your resume so it speaks to hiring managers in a language they understand -- numbers.
"Job seekers need to have a resume that clearly articulates their value to the next employer," she adds. "The resume needs to not only include their daily functions, but also a personal branding statement -- what they do better than anyone else vying for the same position -- and a solid track record of achievement in each position they have held."
The final element may be the most difficult of all. Have patience. It's tough to stay positive if you're not getting any interviews, but your persistence will pay off in the end.