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Working Through

Finding a job is a tricky thing these days. For the first time in a long while, there seems to be more people looking for work than there are jobs available. While the situation looks to be getting somewhat better (and in an election year, you can bet that job creation is going to be happening left and right), it’s still no joke trying to find employment, particularly if you are out of work.

People have become desperate in some cases, panicking or worse, giving up completely. The thing to remember is that even though the economy is still less than what we’d all like it to be, that doesn’t mean you don’t approach job hunting any differently than you would when jobs are plentiful.

Finding  a job is its own job. If the extent of your job search is checking an online want ad or two (like Monster) or spend 30 minutes in your local Internet cafe looking for places that are hiring, you aren’t going to find anything soon. You need to spend at least as much time each day looking for work as you do working. That’s eight hours scouring the ads, working on your resume, signing up for outreach services and networking.

Prioritizing is a must. Start out with the jobs you want. If there aren’t any available, or you lack qualifications then move on to the next tier – jobs similar to what you’ve already done. Don’t panic and start hitting the local fast food joints unless that is seriously all you’re qualified to do – save that for desperation time which starts coming when your unemployment benefits run out and so are your savings. Even then, lean on friends and family. You may need to move back home until you get back on your feet (if that option is available to you) or room with families or friends. The first thing you need to do is cut back on your lifestyle. Eat out less. Brown bag more. Budget yourself for necessities first, job search second. Entertainment and luxuries can wait – the more you save on not going out and not buying things you don’t need, the longer you can hold out.

There may come a time where you may have to swallow your pride a bit. Ask your folks for help. Take jobs that you would consider “beneath you.” There’s no shame in starting over – millions are doing it (and not all of them voluntarily). If the job you’re applying for isn’t ideal, remember that you can continue to look for work while you’re working.

The thing to remember is that you owe nobody any allegiance but you and those who depend on you. Big corporations view you as a number, something that is disposable, replaceable and expensive. If they can figure out a way to replace you with a computer program or better still, with a third world worker who is willing to do what you do for pennies on the dollar, they will and congratulate themselves on their vision and leadership skills for doing it. Big corporations barely consider you as human. Nobody in corporate will shed a tear if you are rendered obsolete.

So keep in mind that you are providing them something that they need – your skills, your expertise and the ability to do the work that they need done. You need to give yourself value before anyone is going to value you. You are important and necessary and even though you won’t be treated like that too often, it is to your advantage to remember that when opportunity comes along. You’re not employed by United Health Care, AT&T, Bank of America or Pfizer – you are employed by your family incorporated and it is to them that you are responsible. You are the CEO of that company (or at least the co-CEO) and it is vital that you keep that in mind when making any employment decisions. Always negotiate upwards – ask for more than you think they’ll give you and hopefully you can settle for something in the middle.

Value yourself and show it – don’t come to work or to interviews dressed like a slob, unshaven or without make-up. Present yourself as capable and serious by dressing appropriately (suit and tie for fellas, business attire for ladies) even if you’re applying for assistant fry cook. Representing yourself as a professional shows your interviewer that you take their position seriously and is more likely to get yourself considered for the position.

When in an interview answer as honestly as you can, taking care to accentuate the things that are positive about yourself and your work experience; if they ask you questions for which the answers might paint you in a negative light, it is permissible to dodge the question. “Why is there an 18-month gap on your work history?” shouldn’t be answered with “I was too busy partying on my severance package to job hunt seriously” but rather with “I was using that time to take a break, reassess my options and improve my skill sets to make me more marketable.”

Answer only the questions that are asked and don’t volunteer anything that isn’t germane. However, it is a good idea to allow your personality to shine through – you need to make an impression, after all. If you see a photo on your interviewer’s desk of a puppy, ask about it. Show interest in them as people and they are more likely to show interest in you as a potential new hire. Make eye contact as much as possible and when a handshake is offered, make it a firm one (preferably one without sweaty palms if at all possible).

Many firms use the internet as a means of screening resumes; be sure yours is spectacular. Accentuate every possible skill imaginable, even if you think it isn’t important. For example, instead of listing “answered phones” as part of your job description, list it as “superior communication skills.” Knowing Excel or Word isn’t enough; you have to be an Expert in those useful software programs.

Your resume and interview are means for you to sell yourself. Be confident in who you are and don’t be afraid to show who you are. Give yourself a pep talk before going in and project confidence and expertise. Laugh politely at their jokes but keep your own joking to a minimum if you can – while it isn’t bad to necessarily crack a joke or two as a means of being memorable, no interviewer is going to take someone seriously who is constantly cracking wise. Restrain your inner stand-up comedian.

Don’t forget that sex sells. That doesn’t mean go out there and throw yourself at your interviewer or come on to them but don’t be above using whatever means necessary to capture their attention. Be subtle about it but if you have the looks to pull it off, look your best. While most recruiters will deny it, sexual attraction can play a very large role in who gets hired and who doesn’t get a second interview. Don’t be overt however because if you make your interviewer uncomfortable you can kiss any chance of being hired goodbye.

Above all, don’t give up hope. You may have to accept a job you’re horribly overqualified for, you may not get the job you want right away but never give up trying. If you want something badly enough, it’s worth working hard for to get it – and that  includes working hard and getting hired in the first place. If the only job you can get is selling tires at Sears, take it. There’s no shame in bringing in money; the only shame there is in my opinion is for letting your dream slip away because you chose not to do anything about it. It may not be glamorous or the words you want to hear but it is always important to remember that any interview could be the one that results in employment, so treat each one like it’s the seventh game of the World Series. Sometimes in order to get to the place you want to be, you have to work through some hard times. Persistently try to better yourself and eventually you will succeed.


One Response

  1. timely applicable with good advice, thanks.

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