Job Searching in Today's Tough Economy

March 4, 2009

By Tina M. Seidel, President, Sanford-Brown College - Collinsville

It seems that you can't open a newspaper or turn on the nightly news without hearing about more workforce reductions. If you are currently in the market for a new job are you wondering what you can you do to make it happen? I've been in your situation several times in my career and here are some tips to help you with your search.

First, if you have been laid off don't let this get you down. Applicants with a positive attitude outshine those without one. I realize that this may be harder than it sounds, but you need to realize you are not alone. A short break may be needed to help clear your head and fine tune your positive attitude!

Second, take an inventory of your skill set. With today's competitive job market, perhaps now would be a good time to go back to school. I'm not referring exclusively to pursuing a degree, but consider a project management class or get proficient in a new type of software. Gaining updated skills to include on your resume can boost your self-confidence and give you a competitive edge to help land a new job.

Third, investigate other industries, especially those that are somewhat recession-proof such as healthcare.* This may require a change in the direction of your career, but the next time a recession occurs, you may be working for a company that is less affected by the economy.

Fourth, if an opportunity presents itself, be a risk taker. Expand the types of positions or companies where you consider applying for employment. It may not result in the job of your dreams, but it provides a foot in the door and a paycheck. My current position is a result of this kind of thinking and has brought me a lot of success and happiness. The same can be said about a challenging part-time position. It may not be an ideal situation but it demonstrates your work ethic, keeps your skills fresh and it could lead to full-time employment once you have proven your value to the organization.

Finally, expand your network. This can be done in person or in a virtual environment. LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a professional networking website that exists to connect people to accelerate their career success. But don't discount Facebook (www.facebook.com) or MySpace (www.myspace.com) as viable places to network establish contact with friends, associates and potential employers who may help you land your next job. On a cautionary note, make sure your online profile is acceptable for a potential employer to view. You don't want to lose an opportunity because of inappropriate pictures or language. Are you a new graduate looking for first time employment? Become active in your alumni association. Employers love to hire from their Alma Mater. Bottom line, get the word out that you are in the job market. Many positions are filled by personal referrals and you would be surprised at who knows who!

I wish you luck in your job search. With so many employers using electronic means to gather resumes, your next interview may be just a few mouse clicks away!

* Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Career Guide to Industries, 2008-09 Edition, Health Care, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/cg/cgs035.htm (visited February 23, 2009).

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