Concerned about finding your next job? With the current challenges in the U.S. and global economy, it is certainly difficult for many to find a new position. However, don’t despair! Follow these tips to develop your own economic stimulus package to increase your chances of job search success.
- Be patient, but have a plan. In a good economy, the average entry‐level job search can take from three to six months. In a poor economy, it takes even longer. There may be fewer opportunities available, and even if they have opportunities, employers may be cautious about filling them because of budget concerns. In addition, the hiring process can be lengthy because there are so many steps involved (the application process…the first interview…several follow‐up interviews…a background or reference check…the offer…the acceptance). Start early to develop your resume and explore opportunities!
- Take at least one step daily. It’s easy to kick back after graduation and hope a job will come to you. However, unless your parent owns a company, that tactic rarely works. Be proactive! Develop a list of job search goals. Get a calendar and write one task for each day of the business week, Monday through Friday. Include time to refine your resume, write application letters, attend professional meetings, meet with people, and follow up with employers.
- Identify your unique qualifications. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. He or she has a position to fill and is looking for a particular set of skills and/or experience. Take the time to research the position and organization, identify what sets you apart from other candidates, and include the information on your resume. Make certain the employer can see how your skills match the job requirements. If an employer can quickly scan your resume and determine if you’re a fit for the position, the document has done its job.
- Get out there. Pointing and clicking at your computer isn’t going to get you a job in this economy. Get out from behind your desk and connect with employers in person. Take advantage of every available opportunity, such as job fairs, campus interviews, and other networking events. A resume can’t tell your whole story to an employer so an in‐person meeting (no matter how brief) gives you an opportunity to provide details about your skills and experience. Show that you’re a professional (in attitude, appearance, and behavior), and let your personality shine. Employers tell us that face‐to‐face situations help them to confirm if a candidate will be a good fit for the job and organization.
- Be persistent. “Help Wanted” signs may be few and far between, but there are jobs out there-you may have to find them. Be persistent, follow up with employers that interest you, and be professional. In the current economy, you may need to apply for a broader variety of jobs, including jobs for which you may feel under‐qualified or over‐qualified. The key is to get your foot in the door, build your skills, network, and be ready for the economic upswing.
- Network, network, network. Since many jobs are never advertised, networking is one of the best ways to find employment. Of course, building a network means that you have to talk with people, whether you know them or not. Start with family members, friends, neighbors, co‐workers, and professors until you begin to feel more comfortable. Then attend professional organization meetings in your field and get involved so you can expand your network. Share your career interests, geographic preferences, and other pertinent information. Ask, “Who do you know that would know about finding a job in [list your field of interest]?” Eventually, one contact will lead to another, and another, and so on!
- Look for “hidden” jobs. The majority of opportunities are filled before they are announced publicly. Your challenge is to find out where those jobs exist. Use your network to inquire about opportunities and get some leads. Then target an organization and a department where you are interested in working. Research it through publications and people connected with the organization, such as vendors, customers, and employees. Identify the person (usually a manager) who makes hiring decisions for the department. Get yourself introduced, or make contact through email, a phone call, or a personalized letter. Inquire about current or upcoming opportunities. If you learn about a position, ask how to formally apply for it. In addition to the formal application, send a thank‐you letter to the manager and include your resume. Follow up each application with a telephone call to the recipient to make sure your application was received.
- Volunteer your time and skills. Even if you’re not working full‐time, you can continue to hone your skills and gain experience by volunteering. If you are actively engaged in community service or volunteer work, keep it up! If you aren’t, now is the time to get involved. In addition to contributing your time and talents to a worthy cause, you will meet people who may be good sources of job information. Most nonprofit organizations have a board of directors and volunteers that are accomplished and successful in their own careers. Tap into this network of individuals to obtain job search advice and identify possible opportunities.
- Consider temporary work. The role of an employment agency is to help employers successfully fill open positions by assessing and submitting the best candidates. In addition, the employment agency serves as an advocate for the candidates with whom they work. An agency recruiter works with you to review your resume, assess how professional and marketable you are, determine the level of your interviewing skills, and help you to represent yourself well in an interview. You shouldn’t have to pay a fee for this service; work only with employment agencies that charge a fee to employers, not job candidates. Ask other individuals to recommend reputable employment agencies that work with employers in your field of interest. Meet with a representative to ask questions that will help you determine if the agency can provide the quality services that
- Expand your search geographically. It may be scary moving to another location; however, the more willing you are to expand your search geographically, the more likely you are to increase the number of opportunities in your field. Some areas of the country have been hit less hard than others. Subscribe to the Sunday edition of a city’s newspaper or locate the online version to learn about advertised jobs, housing costs, and other information that will help you to determine the local job market. Access the chamber of commerce’s Website to become familiar with businesses and other organizations in the area that may be hiring. Contact real estate agencies to obtain information on the hiring climate and economy as well as get help in finding a new place to live.
- Consider recession‐proof industries. While some industries in the private sector are tightening their belts,
others continue to remain stable. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, industries such as health care, government, education, and information technology continue to provide strong prospects. Research these industries to determine which positions will allow you to apply your skills and experiences.
- Log on. LinkedIn has become a valuable tool for learning about job opportunities, connecting with people in your profession, and learning about trends and opportunities in the field. You can be in contact with large numbers of people while determining how engaged you want to be, from just listening to the discussions to posting to the conversations.
- Clean up your profile. Your online image is just as important as your face‐to‐face image. When you invite people into your Facebook network, you are linking to their networks, the people they have in their networks, and so on. You never know what employers are checking the sites for information on you as a potential candidate so professionalism is critical. In addition, you should be selective about the people you invite into your network because what they say about you could impact whether you get a job or not.
- Keep a record. Since job hunting can take weeks or months, it is helpful to maintain a record. Keep track of the contact information for individuals in your network and prospective employers. Include deadlines, actions taken, and results. In addition, keep copies of job descriptions, applications submitted, and correspondence sent. Use a notebook, database, and/or calendar so your job search is organized and efficient. Review the information daily to determine if there are steps that need to be taken and to see how much you have accomplished.