There are few things more daunting than searching for a job when you’re unemployed – except perhaps searching for a job when you’re unemployed and the economy is in recession. Oh, and let’s not forget that in addition to the nation’s current economic woes, it’s also the holiday season – a time when conventional wisdom suggests that your odds of being struck by lightning are greater than your chances of getting hired.
Is a job search during a recession doomed for failure? Not if you think creatively, search aggressively, and maintain a positive outlook and forward momentum!I’m not going to “blow smoke” here – it’s true that our current recession makes for a decidedly tough job market. Job seekers will likely face some considerable challenges in the months ahead, and it seems that almost daily I’m reading scary reports of more large layoffs occurring nationwide. But the news isn’t all bleak. Consider the following:– CNET’s Webware blog reported just ten days ago that there are more tech companies with job openings than there are ones initiating layoffs.– Monster Worldwide’s CEO Salvatore Iannuzzi said in a recent interview with CNBC that a number of sectors are still hiring strong, including government, healthcare, protective services, mining, and exploration.– In their recent “Who’s Hiring in This Economy?” special report, a Cleveland, OH TV network news affiliate checked the latest numbers from Manpower (the world leader in temporary, temp-to-hire, contract, and permanent employment services); Forbes magazine; and the networking service JobFox.comto find what each consider to be the top “recession-proof” jobs. They predict continued job openings in areas including:
- Accounting: The more companies reorganize, the more accountants they need.
- Nursing: One field where there is still a shortage, with openings at many hospitals.
- Physical Therapy: Openings exist at many hospitals.
- IT: With companies keeping computers longer, they need people to fix them and update software.
- Commission Sales Reps: In a recession, companies are desperate for good salespeople.
- Security: You can’t have enough security these days.
- Building Maintenance: As companies hold off on new offices, it’s paramount that they take care of existing facilities.
- The U.S. Census Bureau: Now hiring thousands of workers to prepare for Census 2010.
And here’s more positive news: regardless of the industry and field you are targeting, there are a number of strategies you can adopt to increase your chances of recession-era job search success. Here are my top picks:
Arm yourself with a recession-proof resume. With increasing numbers of laid-off workers competing for jobs, it’s important that you have a flawless, compelling, keyword-rich, and employer-focused resume. Consider hiring a resume writing firm to write your resume. Your initial investment is well worth the competitive edge you’ll gain, and it will be more than recouped in your first paycheck.
Harness the power of the web. The internet is a job seeker’s best friend. Use it to find and apply for jobs (major job boards post openings daily), research companies, create job search agents, develop/update your online profile, and more!
Network, network, network! Networking is still one of the best tools in a job seeker’s arsenal. Check out Quintessential Careers’ compilation of how-to’s, tips, resources, articles, and strategies on this topic.
Get organized, keep a schedule, and follow-up relentlessly. Resist the temptation to become complacent, discouraged, or lazy. Bad daytime TV, king-size chocolate bars, and internet solitaire are not your friends right now. Create a schedule with at least three job search items to accomplish each day and stick to it. Print out and file all job ads that you respond to, attach the customized cover letter and resume that accompanied each ad for your future reference, and follow-up with prospective employers. When the phone starts ringing for interviews, you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts!
Freelance. A number of career fields lend themselves well to freelancing, including writing, designing, IT, and more. There are various sites on the web that allow you to advertise freelance services for free or for a nominal fee. The demand for talented freelancers is bound to increase during a recession, as employers look for the most cost-effective way to get the work done. In addition, the more you freelance, the more contacts you’ll make – and each of these assignments presents the potential for a full-time job offer down the road.
Volunteer. What are you passionate about? The humane treatment of animals? Global warming? Your child’s school? Get out and volunteer! Just spending a couple of hours a week contributing to a cause you care about is incredibly therapeutic, and it offers the added bonus of giving you something you can add to your resume to fill the gap between jobs. Plus, you never know where it may lead. Your enthusiasm may catch the eye of a hiring manager, or you may meet a fellow volunteer who knows of a job opening in your field.
Supplement your income with creative “moonlighting.” My friend Chris is brilliant at this. She’s a talented HR executive who is currently searching for her next full-time job, but in the meantime she’s supplementing her income by advertising various services on Craigslist, including house cleaning, overnight babysitting, dog-walking, and pet-sitting/house-sitting. It pays the bills and allows her to expand her network of contacts
Consider temp and temp-to-hire options. Temp agencies typically thrive during times of economic cutbacks, so start interviewing with them now. Many of these firms require testing to measure your proficiencies in various areas, so the sooner you begin the process the faster you can find placement. And keep in mind that a temporary placement can lead to a full-time job offer.
Don’t buy into the myth that the holidays are a bad time to job search. Check out Alison Doyle’s blog on Job Searching During the Holiday Season for more information. Still not convinced? Dust off your old copy of “Kramer vs. Kramer” and wait for Dustin Hoffman’s “find-a-job-at-all-costs-right-before-Christmas-Eve” scene. I dare you not to be inspired!
Happy job searching, everyone!
Senior Resume Writer, ResumePower.com