No one ever wants to believe that it could happen to them but it does, and suddenly, there you are trying to figure out how to find a job when it seems like there are none to be had. What’s more, you are not alone in this struggle to find a job. There are a lot of other people in the same position you are.
Even though it may seem utterly hopeless at times, all is not lost. There are a few very effective strategies that you can use to help yourself find and get that next job. We have put together some pretty solid advice to help put you ahead of the pack during the hunt.
Reality Check Time: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
The number one tip that anyone can take away today on how to find a job in this economy is that you have to be flexible. If you were laid off from your earlier job, it’s time to take stock of things.
The first thing you need to understand and accept is that you were most likely let go from your position for financial reasons. Companies everywhere are forced to cut their payrolls, in order to survive the bad economy, so most likely, none of this was your fault.
The second thing you need to realize is that finding a position like the one you just had is going to be tough, because there is no doubt several hundred people just like you will be going for what few positions there are.
You are probably saying to yourself right now, “but I have years of experience doing X, why shouldn’t I look for that very same position?” We’re not saying that you shouldn’t. We are just saying that you might want to widen your search pattern and be prepared to try for jobs that are outside of your comfort zone, in order to find gainful employment again.
Remember way back then, when you were looking for your first job? You did not have years of experience back then, did you? No, you didn’t. However, you hung in there and learned what you needed to. You developed the skills that helped you along the way, without hesitation. Why should now be any different?
It’s Time to Make a Few Lists
Once you’ve accepted the fact that you are going to have to be flexible and take a few risks, it’s time now for you to take an inventory.
The first list is going to be a chronological list of all the jobs you have had over the years.
The second list is going to be all of the skills you have learned at each of those jobs and we mean all of them. Have you participated in a sale of something? Have you ever had the opportunity to train other people? Were you given the responsibility of managing a team or even a small group of people? (Even for a day?) Have you helped resolve complaints on behalf of your employer? Were you given extra responsibilities outside of your job description, and how well did you perform them? Did you earn any accolades from those employers for the work that you did?
Do not overlook anything that can be termed as a learned skill, no matter how small or petty you might think it to be. You might be surprised as to what is valued on the job market these days.
Customize Your Resume
Now it is time to brush off that old resume. The days of a “one size fits all” resume are done and gone. While a chronological resume listing every job in order is still good to have, the ones you will be sending out should be more customizable to the posted position you are applying for.
A customizable resume is still chronological in nature but you will be expanding it and customizing it to highlight those skills you just listed to fit what the potential employer is looking for.
For example, say your last position was as a retail worker. Your main responsibility may have been stocking the shelves but you also had contact with customers on a daily basis and, most likely, you also helped direct them to the items they were looking for. Congratulations, you can now add the skills “customer service” and “sales” to that job description.
Beginning Your Search
The next step in our how to find a job strategy during these times is to start looking and evaluating what is out there. Remember that you may not be able to find the exact job that you have in mind or one that pays what you want, right away. Keep an open mind while you are searching and explore the other opportunities that you come across. You never know what you will find there.
So, Where Do You Start?
When you go on online, search engine platforms such as Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, and SnagAJob.com set up your profile, including your chronological resume. Remember that list of skills you created earlier? These will be the keywords you will punch into their search functions and those keywords will bring posts to your email every day, listing what jobs they have available that you can apply to.
Check The Leading Online Job Search Tools
We suggest that you try searching SnagAJob’s resources first, just to see what is currently available. Their database is usually kept very current and jobs, which are no longer available are usually taken down quickly. Check out what SnagAJob has to offer… You may be surprised to find some decent jobs near your current residence.
Another resource you can check online is Indeed. We have pulled their search results into our site and you can browse their job listings by category and location in our Local Job Search Section.
Applying to jobs that appeal from these searches is where you will use that customizable resume, the one that will be written to match the keywords that employer is looking for. Do not use the saved chronological resume for these applications. Upload a freshly customized one instead and do not forget a cover letter to go with each application!
Some people believe that cover letters are unnecessary but they are your first step in convincing potential employers that you are the candidate they are looking for. Keep it light and relevant and use it to reinforce those skills that you know are listed on your resume. Some employers go strictly by keywords these days and will quickly discard resumes that do not reflect what they are looking for.
Check out some examples of strong resume keywords to get a better idea of what we are describing. With a strong resume and cover letter, you will move to the top of the list rather quickly, instead of the slush pile.
By the way… We strongly recommend that you not only apply online if you have the opportunity (Some employers accept job applications online via SnagAJob), but you should also take the time to stop by their location physically. Be ready for an interview right away, because in some cases, you may be able to get a hold of a manager who may want to fill a position quickly.
Got the Interview?
If you get called for an interview and if you follow our tips, your next step is research. Research the prospective employer on the internet and learn as much as you can about them. Knowing as much as you can about them will help to lower the nervousness going into the interview, as well as give you fodder for questions towards the end of it. Interviewers like informed, well reasoned questions from prospective employees and not all of them should be about the pay or benefits package. Look at it as if you are interviewing them, to see if everything will be a good fit.
Following up after the interview has sometimes been thought of as unnecessary but in these times, that belief is out the window. Most employers will give you an idea of when they will be making their decision and if you do not hear from them, follow up. Not hearing does not mean that you are out of the running and touching base might just improve your chances. Check out our Thank You Letter After Interview example.
Thinking Outside The Box
Leafing through the want ads every day and combing the job search engines are not the only things you can do to help you get that next job. A lot of people today have discovered that one of the best sources to exploit while learning how to find a job is the many social networks that exist today. Posting profiles and opening accounts on sites such as LinkedIn.com, Facebook.com, MySpace.com and Twitter.com can give you instant insights into who is hiring now, where and for what position. This can also help you get the necessary contact information a lot faster than traditional methods. Twitter even has dedicated pages of job information for nearly every major city in the world today, due to the sheer volume of requests that come through.
Additionally, these social networks provide a great way to stay in touch with old contacts, previous employers and friends who might be able to give you some leads in the future. They are also an opportunity for you to brand yourself, getting your experience and skills out into that vast network and hopefully making a good impression on future employers in the process.
Keep Your Social Pages Clean
This often goes unconsidered by many people searching for work, but ask yourself… Is there anything on my Facebook page that makes me look as if I’m unprofessional, irresponsible, a drunk, or someone who will be trouble in the workplace?
Maybe you should take a few pictures off of your page; you know the ones with you doing a keg stand? These images as well as some of the things you may have stated on a blog can keep you from getting a job, at which you would have been very successful.
Other things to consider are any posts bad-mouthing a former employer. Your future employer may be reading some of your posts, so just keep in mind that if you do not want them reading it… Take it down.
The Vultures are Circling…
Here’s another angle to keep in mind in trying to answer the great question of how to find a job. Do you know someone who was recently fired from a good job? (If they were laid off then the position is gone) Since that individual is no longer there, they must have an opening.
Like that one? Here’s another… Most people check the classifieds for want ads, but have you ever thought of checking the obituaries? Those people are not coming in to work in the morning and the positions they left behind will be filled.
Maintain Your Schedule
While you may not be currently employed, you should still have hours to keep during your search. Let’s face it, right now you are working on finding work and until you do, you should at least attempt to make that a full-time job in itself. The biggest reason why many people take so long to actually find work is that they lose hope. The worst thing you can do right now is start drinking or some other habit that cost money, which you aren’t making. Save the money you do have to fund your search efforts and stay afloat.
Help Out Where You Can…
While you should be treating your job search as if it was a job in itself, working your resources every single day on a regular basis, it is also okay to take some time for other things in life. Volunteering tasks and looking for internships will help to add to that skill list in a timely manner, even if it is chaperoning a field trip or walking dogs at a local shelter. Your local newspaper is sure to carry information on which organizations are looking for volunteers and for what. Definitely a great way to give back to the community and gain skill sets at the same time.
Taking on an internship, if you find one, is also a great way to build onto your experience, as well as literally get your foot into the door should an opening occur. Keep in mind; however, that most internships are unpaid or half-pay and may not be the best answer to the how to find a job quest in every case. If your financial situation can bear not getting paid for working your butt off, learning a wide array of new skills and having the best time of your life, then by all means, go for it!
Don’t forget to consider signing on with a temporary staffing agency. These places are doing very well right now, because employers are at less risk when they hire “temps.” A temp agency shields the employer from paying benefits, as well as unemployment. Those liabilities are taken on by the staffing agency. While you may not get steady work, you will be getting employment. In many cases, employers use temp agencies as a way of “trying on” a potential candidate. It is much easier for them to end the contract than to have to pay unemployment.
The main thing to note is that many employers eventually hire on temps because after a little while, they have invested time and money in training that individual and they do not want to lose their investment.
We hope that we have given you a few ideas, which you may not have considered and that you are on the road to success. If there is something we haven’t considered, and you think it may help others, please leave a comment below.