Tempting as it may be, don’t run screaming out the door of your current workplace quite yet. Blind Pollyanna-esque hopefulness probably isn’t the way to go, either, but a healthy dose of pragmatism is closer to a solid cure to get you through this uncertain moment in time. The jobs really are out there, but you need to take a few steps to set yourself apart and snag one.
It’s oft-repeated, but there’s a basis for it: remember that when you’re looking for a job, you’re selling yourself. Sure, simply touting your skill set certainly helps. But having a cover letter that clearly spells out why you’re the person for that particular job is going to help more than the cleanest resume on the planet if HR doesn’t think your cover letter was engaging or interesting enough to warrant a close look at your resume. (Hey, they’re human too.) Be succinct without boring them (and of course, while giving them the information they need to hire you) and you’ll stand out.
Not only should you “sell” yourself, you should be ready to brand yourself (but put that cattle brand away). Snag the domain for your name (e.g. www.janedoe.com) and start building a site that underscores your resume and your specific experience. Show, don’t tell. If you’re a writer, put your published clips on the site. If you’re a designer, show pieces of your work. Along with a short note, email the link to prospective employers (making sure it’s well-designed and cleanly laid-out, of course) so that they don’t have to wade through attachments like they do for other job applicants.
Create your own opportunities. An email to friends and contacts within your industry letting them know that you’re looking for new challenges is not only more effective than blindly sending out hundreds of resumes (even well-crafted ones), but it’s also a more discreet way of protecting your personal information as well, especially if you’re looking for a new job while you’re currently still employed.
- Think outside your usual realm. Rather than sniffing out leads on generalized job boards that are going to inevitably receive hundreds of applications per posting, start thinking more in terms of specific companies for which you’d enjoy working. Research businesses’ contact information and check job postings on their web site. And even if they don’t have any current openings, don’t let that deter you—send in your resume to HR with a note explaining why you’d like to work there. If a position opens in the future that matches your experience, you may just end up at the top of the pile.
Even if the job opportunities aren’t yet beating down your door, there are ways to realistically stopgap your search in the meantime. And remember—while you wait for the recession tide to officially turn, there’s nothing wrong with blazing your own trail.
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