Looking for a job is one of the most energy consuming and exhausting ventures a person can go through in the working world. If you are lucky enough to be in a region with a booming economy and you can offer skills to support that boom, then so much the better. If not, the following ideas can help smooth out the search process and the mental/emotional upheaval that often accompanies it.
Attitude – Attitude and self confidence undergirds everything else when looking for employment. It is the foundation of how you present yourself on paper, in a personal interview, and during performance reviews after accepting a position. Confidence in yourself and what you have to offer is of extreme importance. One of the biggest mistakes job applicants make is seeing the big picture from the wrong angle. By that, I mean that most people feel that a potential employer is giving them a job. In reality, employers are paying a fee for the valuable skills and services you bring to the table. Don’t confuse this with arrogance. Keep your presentation attitude real. Never embellish. Remember that what you offer an employer has a measurable financial value.
Attitude on Paper – Where your resume is concerned, confidence is also king. Compare your skills and offerings to what is required for the job, then arrange your skill set on paper to meet the need. Tailor your resume to each job you are applying for. If a listing calls for warehouse duties, then put your warehouse experience first on your skills list. If warehouse deliveries seem to be the primary call in an employment ad, then place any delivery experience above your warehouse experience. If part of a job’s potential duties involve invoicing or paperwork on delivery, then list those skills (no matter how minor) next in line. Imagine what other duties a job might call for even if they aren’t mentioned in the ad. Add them to your skills list in order of importance. Word processors make this task easy. If you don’t have a computer, then go to the library or spend some time with a friend who owns one. Statistics show that around sixty percent of American homes have a computer. In our technological age, there is no excuse for a poorly organized resume.
Perseverance – Persistence is a primary key to getting a job in a tight economy. Looking for a job is a full time job. It’s surprising how many people seeking employment never take that phrase to heart. They see it as some quaint saying when it is really quite essential to achieving your employment goals. It doesn’t mean that you must run from one interview to another all day, every day. The fact is, that would be ridiculous and an emotional roller-coaster that most humans could not survive. But you can look for new ads in the paper every day. You can peruse local publications that specialize in employment news. You can read trade publication on newsstands and in libraries in your area of interest, browsing the ads in the back, or writing down the names of companies you might enjoy working for. Look up companies of interest to you on the internet to see what they are all about. Then when you apply for a job and get that interview, schedule no more than two or three a day. To attempt more is often emotionally draining, leaving you at less than your best. Besides, there is more than enough to do between interviews.
Classified Ads Are Deceiving – Statistically, only fifteen to twenty percent of all available jobs are listed are in newspaper classifieds. They don’t represent the total job market by any means. The remainder are acquired by word of mouth, ads in other publications, internet ads, and walk-ins. How many times have you heard of someone getting a job because their neighbor mentioned the opening to them, or their brother works in the company and knew the job would be available? It happens often. Many large corporations in the service industry rely heavily on walk-ins and on line application processes. Even if you don’t fill out an application on line, it would be more than a good thing to look up the company web site (if they have one) and learn something of the general workings of your potential employer. It may give you and edge over your competition by asking key questions based on your internet research. Your interviewer will know that you went the extra mile to investigate his or her corporation.
Flexibility – Finding what you want in an evolving or slow job market can be a challenge. You may have been in a compatible or comfortable position for several years, and now after being laid off, you find that no one is hiring for what you were doing. The strategy here is to look for a related alternative. One option would be to try and find your job through a temporary agency. Often you lose benefits, but it keeps you in your chosen field, ready to make new contacts and network your way back to a full time position. Another possibility is to accept a position in a related area, where you can use some cross-over skills and look to make a lateral move within the company later.
Re-education – Do what you love, then learn more about it. If you are looking for a receptionist/secretarial position, and all job ads require some skill level with spreadsheets or minor bookkeeping, then learn while you wait. Libraries are filled with books relating to office software of all kinds. Software discount companies sell older versions of programs for pennies on the dollar, giving you the chance to learn the basics and enhance your skills and update your resume. Mostly, teaching yourself new skills makes you available to more job positions and more valuable to a company when it comes time to lay off some of it’s work force. Take a class in something job related while you are still employed. Go to a used bookstore to find guides and manuals at half the price of new books. Arrange for a friend or neighbor to teach you a skill that might be valuable in your job future. As payment, offer to teach him/her something you know. Learning can be fun, but more than that it’s essential for surviving a shifting job market.
One of the most disturbing things I hear when listening to a newly unemployed person is their idea that “doing XYZ for a living is all they know”. It doesn’t have to remain that way. You can always learn a new skill or trade, and you should. In our constantly changing global economy, no job is secure. Developing nations and evolving societies will always be a threat to any job. The forty year pension plan is gone forever. Re-education and continuing education are essential elements of employment longevity. Occasionally we may be required to enter an entirely different field. That’s okay. The more varied your skills, the more valuable you will be to any employer.
Health – It’s hard to stay fit and get enough sleep when looking for a job. The bills still come to the mail box. Collection agencies can harass you day and night. Well meaning, but often misguided, family members shove classifieds in front of your face that often have little to do with what you are looking for. Your mental health is suffering due to lack of sleep and worry. You wonder how you can present your best side when physically and emotionally exhausted, thus causing more sleep loss and self-doubt. It’s difficult. It strains your entire family, resulting in short tempers, lack of confidence, and very often clinical depression.
One of the most important things to do when fighting these emotional/mental bonds is to get enough sleep. Studies show that most Americans don’t get enough sleep during good times. You may even need more sleep during this time to help control the stress. Another critical thing to do is keep active. Treat your job hunt as full time employment. Make a list of small goals to work toward each day such as reading two chapters in a software guide, looking through the job listing in a county newspaper, mailing or faxing three resumes, and writing two thank-you notes as follow-ups to job interviews. Keep busy with different parts of the job hunting process. Do this each day and keep as much variety in the mix as possible. Along the way take time to exercise, even it it means going out for a thirty minute leisurely stroll twice a day. Get plenty of sunshine to keep your body’s melatonin level up. This will also help with sleep. Avoid dark rooms and isolation. They can only lead to more depression and emotional struggles.
You Are Not Alone – You may think that no one has ever experienced the anguish and emotional upheaval that you sense with your current unemployment. It’s common to feel that, and sometimes believe it. But people just like you have gone through this process throughout the ages. Talk about your doubts and struggles to someone you can trust. Surround yourself with supportive family and friends and distance yourself from the naysayers. Maintain relationships and contacts in your chosen field. Keep looking forward to new possibilities instead of dwelling on past losses. Know that you are more than your profession. Believe that you will emerge on top, finding every opportunity that comes your way. Embrace your skills and gifts, as well as your value as a human being.
You have what it takes to make it. Present yourself well on paper and during interviews with a confident attitude. Claim your right daily to contribute to your community and the world with the skills and education you have acquired. Learn to seek out the smallest of possibilities in the most unlikely places. All you need to find is a seed to nurture on your journey toward employment. Look for answers in the road less traveled. It may bring you back to the main highway in ways you cannot yet foresee. Open your eyes and mind to new ideas and new learned skills. Give yourself strength to persevere by maintaining a healthy body and mind lifestyle. Rub shoulders daily, in person or by telephone, with your support group. You have what it takes. Step to center stage. Your presentation is about to begin.