Too many hard-working people are looking for work and finding it difficult to find something. Many people spend hours each day looking for a new job, but the continual rejection makes it hard to carry on.
Career consultants and job search coaches help, and many people who contact me have significant opportunities to improve their job search strategies. It’s satisfying to have a client tell me how they are now re-energised, are now getting shortlisted, and are finding success at interviews. When I first meet them, I feel it’s such a shame that they are doing so many things that are ineffective. Too often I see:
• Poor CVs, even when they have been professionally created. I’ve seen CVs created by consultants from well-known outplacement companies that are boring and old-fashioned in layout and style, similar to what I was writing 10 years ago. I’ve also seen one that cost someone £250 that looked shoddy and was ineffective. Such a waste of money for a client earning £15k p.a.
• Cover letters that don’t “sell” the person. Letters have to cover both how the person matches with the job and also why they want the job. It should address the requirements of the job ad. The letter is 50% of the application and is as important as the CV.
• A limited approach. Too much time is spent looking for jobs online and negligible time spent on more proactive approaches. Being busy does not necessarily relate to being effective.
• Failing to network. This can also be done online via LinkedIn, or through discussion groups for those of us who are more introverted.
• A lack of awareness of what interviewers are looking for. Many applicants haven’t thought about how to promote themselves in an interview. Their examples are vague, and they don’t ask vital questions.
• Invisibility online. Applicants need, at the very least, to get a completed LinkedIn profile.
Why It’s Not Your Fault
• There could be hundreds of people applying for the same job as you, so no matter how great your application, there can be others who look as good as you on paper and interview.
• You may be constrained by location, or the jobs on offer are well below your capability. As soon as the economy upturns, you will likely be offered something better. You can cite reasons why this job as marketing assistant is perfect for you, but if you have previously been a marketing manager, it will be hard to convince anyone that you are happy to take on a more junior role.
• With cuts in government spending, there won’t be many opportunities in the public sector, and the private sector may be limited to part-time opportunities.
What You Can Do To Get a Job During a Recession
• Keep the momentum going; don’t give up. Too often people tell me that they have done very little in a week, perhaps only a couple of hours of unfocused work.
• Keep up to date with the industry. You may be out of your profession, but you can still read articles and attend professional meetings.
• Look for ways to keep your skills up to date via small projects and voluntary work.
• Think about a portfolio career. Perhaps you could take on a couple of part-time jobs?
• Think laterally. Offer to work on a project on a “try before you buy” basis to help encourage an employer to offer you the job.
• Make good use of social media. If you aren’t already on LinkedIn, make it a priority.
• Choose job search coaching, or join a job search group; or have a buddy to work with. Use my book – How to Get a Job in a Recession – to guide you through what to do and not do.