The famed Irish poet/playwright Oscar Wilde is credited with this statement, “The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” Wilde said this more than 100 years ago, but it is likely something that anyone who spent any part of the last year unemployed can appreciate.
A recent release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of unemployed people at 15.4 million, but indicates this number is down, as is the unemployment rate, which is sitting at 10 percent. Still, from my world of staffing, the resumes continue to come in at a fast and furious pace. I’ve spent my career in the employment industry and though I’ve weathered several economic ups and downs, I’ve never before seen a job market like that of 2009.
This is not an economy where you can be a passive job seeker. You must do your due diligence in finding resources and employers where you can showcase your experience and skill set. It often means pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and taking actions you might ordinarily not take.
To improve your chances, here are 10 resolutions to consider for your 2010 job search:
1. One resume does not fit all – Sure it’s work, but customize your resume based on the opportunity. Keep to a core of basic info, but change up the focus and buzz words depending on the job criteria.
2. Keep your online mouth shut – Check privacy settings on any social networking sites. Google yourself to check your digital identity. Banish inappropriate photographs. Don’t badmouth a past or present employer on Twitter or other social networking site. Job offers have been rescinded based on hastily written Tweets.
3. Improve your credit – An increasing number of employers today do full background checks, which often includes your credit rating, and then use this info as part of their decision making process.
4. Cast a wide networking net – Do both personal networking and online networking. Strive to reach out to old contacts and prospects. Ask for advice, insight and referrals. If you characterize yourself as “a people person” you need to prove it! Distribute personal business cards with full contact info and a summary of your skills and occupational target.
5. Burn your paper resume – Yes, a resume on cream linen bond paper looks lovely, but it’s just not practical in today’s job market. E-mailable is the only way to go.
6. Go on every interview – Even the ones you don’t want. Practice is essential. Make your mistakes here, not when it matters most.
7. Don’t take a vacation from the hunt – Postponing until after the holidays or other long stretches isn’t a good idea. Keep the momentum and leads going.
8. Align with a recruiter – Find a search firm or staffing service that specializes in your industry or skill. Tap into their expertise.
9. Flock together – Interact with other job seekers to improve your accountability. Join a job club. You should also be part of a visible professional association in your region or industry.
10. Don’t ignore any resource or tool because you don’t know how to use them – Use job boards, networking, the Department of Labor, job fairs, alumni sites, temporary employment companies and more. Make yourself familiar with the unknown.
I’m the first one to admit that there’s no secret to finding employment; in fact, it’s my belief that it is often a combination of opportunity, proximity and pure luck. Unfortunately, you can do everything right and still not get the job offer. Still, it is better to give yourself the advantage, rather than eliminate yourself due to outdated tactics or lack of activity. I know this might all sound like old news, but getting a job is a job and it’s even harder in a tough economy. Don’t let these tips be like most New Year’s resolutions—the kind that go in one year and out the other. Good luck!
Nancy Schuman is a vice president at Lloyd Staffing, headquartered in Melville, and is the author of eight how-to books on career guidance and job-search techniques. Lloyd Staffing offers temporary, contract and full-time employment services on a regional and national basis. Send your career-related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.