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by Joe Turner | March 10, 2009


Today's economic news may be gloom and doom but it needn't derail your job hunt. You can still win a great job, even in a lousy economy. You will have to get smarter in your job search strategy, though.

Here are five tips to incorporate into your job search approach during the recession:

1. Research your options
Does your industry or line of work offer little promise of employment in the coming months? If so, now is a good time to step back to identify the projected top-performing industries and jobs. The best place to find this information is on the Web through Yahoo! or Google. Start with "best industries work recession" or "recession jobs 2008" to uncover articles describing some of the more "recession-proof" sectors to target.

2. Change your focus
Start asking yourself the question, "What's in it for them?" as opposed to, "What's in it for me?" Especially in an economic downturn, you'll want to stay focused on what you can accomplish for your next employer. Show them that you understand the macroeconomic "bigger picture" of the role you play in moving the company forward.

3. Sell results, not skills
Leave behind that old mindset that your job-related skills or length of service are selling factors. The new mindset is to think of yourself as a mini profit-and-loss center rather than just an employee. Employers today buy results and are less impressed with candidates promoting a long laundry list of skills. You'll want to define the many ways your past and present job performances are assets to your next employer.

4. Start talking money
The recession has made the private sector economy even more bottom-line-oriented than ever. Hiring managers categorize employees into one of two distinct groups:

a) those who help make money, or
b) those who help save money.

Which one are you?

For example, Barry works as the human resources manager of a midsized company. While much of his work focuses on compliance issues, he notices that the company is paying many thousands of dollars to locate and hire good employees. As a result, Barry developes and implements an in-house employee referral program that nets three quality hires in a six-month period. This saves the company almost $70,000 that it would have had to pay for recruiters and advertising costs.

Barry saves money for his company and this is an accomplishment future employers will want to hear about.

Rethink your current or past job to understand your position in the bigger corporate P&L picture. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How did my work improve the performance of my department or company?
  • How many roles did I perform that saved the company the expense of added employees or contractors?
  • How has my work made the work of others (employees and managers) easier, faster and more effective?

Collect specific examples of the benefits that your company gained from the work you've already performed. Clarify the specific benefit your company received by making money or saving money, and write them down.

5. Add achievements to your resume
Employers don't hire employees, they hire problem-solvers. Your new resume should be a hard-hitting sales tool designed to accomplish one goal: get the interview. To demonstrate this, add a specific achievements list to your resume. Take the list that you developed in the previous section and hone it down to your biggest and most notable accomplishments. Now, describe the benefit that your employer gained from each example. This will put you several steps ahead of your job-seeking competitors. Plus, you'll now have some talking points ready for that next phone interview.

Don't let all the hype about the recession spook you into a state of panic. By revising your tactics to include a more solution-selling approach to employers, you stand a better chance of getting hired in today's faltering economy.

As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. Author of Job Search Secrets Unlocked, Joe has interviewed on radio talk shows and offers free insider job search secrets at


Filed Under: Job Search