Landing a job of your dreams is never easy, but in a weak employment market, it can be especially frustrating. The reality is a job market that is fiercely competitive.
What can a job seeker do to stack the odds in his favor? Whether you are a fresh graduate embarking on your first full-time job or an experienced professional whose company has recently downsized, the key to a successful job search in a weak market is your ability to tap unadvertised job opportunities, get your foot in the door and sell yourself.
It is important to stay focused, know what you want and what you bring to the table. In a weak economy it is important to find a job you can keep, and it will require some creativity and elbow grease. Here are some tips to help you plan your job search effectively.
If you are recently laid off this is not the time to go into self-pity mode. There are always jobs despite doom and gloom in the news. You just have to get creative in finding them. If it gets too depressing, turn off the news reports on TV and stop reading the paper. Do not discuss your job search with negative people. You have a big enough challenge ahead of you without nay-sayers telling you it is all hopeless.
Do an honest and thorough self evaluation
It is one thing to just get a job because you need money, but if work is going to take up half of your waking hours, it should be something you really like. People who get paid for work they love are truly blessed. However it isn’t fate that designs your career, it is you. If you do not know what you want, brainstorm for things that fire your passions. For instance, if you love clothes and give great fashion advice, you could be an image consultant in the making. Don’t worry about qualifications at this point. Just make your wish list.
Take inventory of your experience and skills
Write down everything you can do, from typing a report to answering a phone. Anything that you have learned to do from any job, class or volunteer work counts. This is especially important if you have been a full time mom, and out of the work force for several years. You will be amazed at the number of transferable skills that you have.
Put together a winning resume
Use this list to form a functional resume that showcases your skills and accomplishments rather than specific dates of employment. The type of resume that is most effective will depend on what you are looking for. A functional resume focuses on skills. It works best when you have been absent from the work force or have a sketchy work history. It is also the best choice if you are changing fields as it shows skills that are applicable in several different jobs. A chronological resume showing positions and dates works best if you have a solid employment history and are searching for a similar job in your field. Many job seekers use elements of both.
Network for hidden opportunities
Search the listings on job and career portals and on classifieds, but do not rely on them as your sole source of job openings. With the number of people competing for jobs, employers do not need to advertise as much. This is especially true for better paying positions which will be found mostly in the “hidden job market”. Networking is the key. As soon as you know you will be looking for work, you should be cultivating and meeting up with people who can help you open doors and connect you to the right people.