Even in a down market, job seekers and employees are not powerless or without recourse. In fact, you have more control over your career circumstances than you might think. Following are 20 specific strategies and tactics I’ve developed over the years that consistently generate powerful results for job seekers, even when it seems like no one is hiring.
- Network, network, network. Continually increase your level of networking, and keep expanding your contact database. There is no substitute for connecting with people one on one.
- Seek help. Get career support from a professional. A qualified career coach can better prepare you to land your next position.
- Read career books and attend career seminars. Being informed about business will keep you “fresh” as a candidate, and it will help you consistently improve your career management and job-search skills.
- Leverage technology. Utilize websites and online services to connect with your industry and to build greater visibility. Create a career website and reach out through social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Differentiate yourself. Position yourself as an expert by writing articles, giving presentations or teaching a class. Get involved in professional organizations and assume leadership roles there.
- Use your time off wisely. Pursue professional development by participating in classes, seminars, certifications and industry conferences.
- Pursue a temporary, part-time or contract position. Volunteer, provide pro bono work, take on a consulting contract, or complete an internship or apprenticeship. All of these options provide excellent “bridge job” opportunities.
- Act with speed and urgency. Demonstrate that you’re more serious and more determined than the competition. Show up earlier. Arrive more prepared. Move quickly and efficiently. Make an impression by being more responsive and assertive than other candidates.
- Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise and get plenty of rest. You’ll need to be healthy and vital to maintain the pace of an active job search campaign.
- Be flexible and adaptable. Consider shifting industries and/or being geographically mobile to open up more career possibilities, even if you would not choose these options under normal circumstances.
- Improve and enhance all the documents in your career portfolio. Craft a unified package that consistently conveys a highly professional image of yourself. This will include a resume, a one-page professional biography, a collection of powerful accomplishment stories, a series of compelling cover letters, a page of professional references, a list of target companies and a 15-second commercial or positioning statement.
- Identify industries that will emerge stronger when the market improves. Research emerging opportunities and niches that will offer career growth, and position yourself to take advantage of these trends.
- Practice interviewing and negotiation skills. Solicit the help of a partner to role-play with you, and switch roles as needed with the questions and answers. Practice with an audio-recording device, and listen to yourself as you continually improve your performance.
- Be patient, but persistent. Be persistent, but don’t be a pest, as you follow up consistently on every opportunity. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Instead, keep moving forward as you explore every appropriate opening you can find.
- Focus on tangible results and practical solutions. The primary question in the employer’s mind will be, “What can you do for me—now?” This means that you should quickly identify the employer’s most pressing needs and challenges—and then explain exactly how your relevant accomplishments will allow you to successfully address those issues in the short term.
- Work from a budget. Instead of going into a panic or worrying that you’ll lose everything you’ve worked for, conduct a detailed analysis of your financial situation and develop a family budget. You may discover that you’re in a better financial position than you had thought.
- Be kind to yourself. There is no longer the same stigma there used to be about being unemployed, as almost every family in America has been touched by layoffs and downsizings. Forgive yourself, forgive your ex-employer and forgive the world.
- Pay extra attention to your personal image. First impressions count. Make a deliberate, consistent effort to present yourself in the best light. Now is the ideal time to take stock of your appearance, and make whatever changes you feel could improve your image—and your job search results.
- Watch your attitude. Maintain a positive attitude. Never state anything negative or act desperate. Spend some time each day focusing-in and recalibrating your internal attitude.
- Be philosophical. Try to find the life lessons and new perspectives in this transition. Commit to yourself that, somehow, you will make this a rewarding and productive experience.
For more information and other useful tips to achieving career success, visit getthejobbook.com.
Ford R. Myers is a nationally-known career coach, speaker and author of Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.