Find a Job In a Recession?… Yes You Can!

21 Dec

By: Shelly Anglin Smith

People are getting new jobs daily. There is no reason why you should not be one of them. I know job hunting is tough right now but it is not absolutely impossible. Just think of all the vacant positions that are advertised in the newspapers and online each week. The key to finding and keeping work in tough times is the same as in good times: action. The more positive the action you take, the better your chances of landing a great job. Be as visible and connected as you can. Even though there are very few jobs on the open market, as I pointed out before, there’s always activity so be well placed to take advantage.

  1. 1. Be smarter, faster and better. Unfortunately there is no magic piece of advice about job hunting and working in a bad economy; no juicy piece of wisdom for this type of situation. The best advice the experts give is to use all of the same job hunting and career management tips but do them smarter, faster and better. Being smarter, faster and better means:
  • Updating your resume to include examples of how you thrive in challenging times, how you excel at stretching a budget, how you can bring in new clients and new revenue right away.
  • Making 5 calls a day to networking contacts, rather than making 5 a week.
  • Attending one networking event a week, rather than one a month.
  • Following up immediately after you meet someone or learn of an opportunity. Return calls right away, send a thank you email the same day you have an interview, send in a resume as soon as you learn of an opportunity.
  • In any situation, ask yourself, “What would be the smartest, fastest and best way to handle this situation?” and do just that.

2.  Try new strategies. We all get into ruts — going to the same networking events, talking to the same people at our association meetings, setting up the same keywords on the same employment websites, writing the same phrases in every cover letter. STOP! The same old stuff will no longer cut it. As Albert Einstein said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” To get a job in a bad economy, you have to cast a wider net and be more creative than ever. Try some new and different keyword searches as you look for jobs online. Challenge yourself to attend networking events in totally new industries, towns or social circles. Start looking in the newspaper if you’ve never done that before. Look for jobs at small companies if you’ve always worked for big corporations and vice versa.

3.  Maintain/Establish Contacts. Employers will always prefer to recruit someone who has been recommended to them and to pay as little as possible for doing so. When money is tight the first thing they will do when looking to recruit is to ask around and find out who is available. This means you need to network. It is not a comfortable process for many people – but it works and is well worth it. Networking is not about asking strangers to do you favours, or to get you a job. It is far more subtle than that. Networking is about exchanging information. As a networker you have something to offer your contacts, perhaps not now but possibly in the future. Maybe you know someone you can introduce that person to. As you do it more, so your network grows and this opens up opportunities that would not otherwise have presented themselves, often completely out of the blue.

Look at the online networking sites like Linked In, Business Scene and Xing. Maybe you won’t find information that you could specifically act on/use within the Jamaican market, but you might pick up useful ideas. However nothing is more valuable than face to face networking with trusted contacts. Online relationships rarely generate the same quality of contact. Also, search the internet or purchase a book by a tried and trusted author for tips on how to network. Author and careers consultant Harry Freedman has some interesting publications that are worth a try.

.4. Find ways to make some extra money so you aren’t desperate and panicky. Potential employers can smell desperation and it isn’t attractive. If you are totally stressed out about paying the rent, you won’t be in the best frame of mind to conduct a proactive job search. One great way to make some extra cash without working fulltime is tutoring (for primary level and high school or college courses; or for college application essays; etc.) so you can stay afloat while you look for your next career move.

4. Freelance full-time. You may find that your “on-the-side” gig turns into a new career. Many have found their “calling” this way. Unfortunately freelancing, consulting and self-employment are not for everyone, but if you’ve been considering entrepreneurship, now might be the time to make the leap. And consider that in a contracted economy, job creation is needed, so if you can create your own… Get online and read up on the matter. If your community or a job-creation organisation with a good track record offers a training course and/or group support for such a move, sign up with them.

5. Focused search. Move to a city with jobs. If you’ve been thinking about relocating, you might want to consider a place that is thriving despite the economic downturn. I don’t necessarily advise uprooting yourself for the potential of a good job, but if you’ve been thinking about moving anyway or have some very strong leads in a thriving city, it could be a smart decision right now. Or move to an industry sector with jobs if you don’t want to move to a new city. In a recession it is important that you focus on industries where opportunities are likely to exist. The sectors that do better in a recession include those where people can save money – such as supermarkets, home entertainment and cinema.

Now, if you are considering moving into a new sector, knowledge is key. Do your research. You will not get a job in this climate unless you can walk into an interview and talk knowledgeably about the company and their sector, identifying their problems and opportunities and articulating the contribution that you can make. The decision as to which sectors to target is an important one. It requires both short term and medium term considerations. HRWorld offers its own list of top 25 careers to pursue in a recession and Career Hub shares a ranking of 72 recession-proof industries. Compare what is happening within the local economy. Could a similar trend for one to capitalize on be reflected here as well? Consider expanding your job search into one of these industries. For instance, if you’ve been applying to finance jobs only within the financial sector, consider applying for finance jobs at a pharmaceutical company or a university. If you’re interested in management consulting, think about a firm that specialises in healthcare consulting. If you’ve thought about teaching, do it!

If funds are a consideration, find free sources of research information on a wide variety of roles, including tools to assess your skills, interests and career values, plus help and advice to people wanting to change career. Remember that although your priority may be to get back into work at any cost, the job you do take does have to be right for you. It needs to keep you engaged and to motivate you. Otherwise you may be creating more problems than you solve.

Longer term we will all need to look at the likely trends in the post-recession world. Companies recovering from the recession will be outsourcing many of their functions as they get back on their feet, so look at opportunities providing back office or support services. Turnaround services will be in demand, again this may provide opportunities.

6. Help other people. Now is the time to be extra generous in helping other people with job leads, event invitations, networking contacts, advice and moral support. When you see a job listing that’s perfect for a friend, forward it with an encouraging note. Call up a fellow job seeker and invite him over for a cup of coffee and a chat. Barter your strengths (editing, public speaking, outfit coordination) with a friend who has strengths that you don’t. “Paying it forward” makes you feel good and it’s bound to come back to you in kind.

Ok. So now that we’ve looked at smart ways to go about getting a job. In wrapping this up I want to impart to you this quote by T. E. Lawrence that I found interesting: “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.” Now go out there and be dangerous!


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