Late last week, more proclamations filled the virtual airwaves that that the recession is now over. Thanks everybody for playing – now go spend wildly and hedonistically once again!
Are you buying it (so to speak)? As NPR put it, it might be over if you are an economist, but not if you are a politician. I would also add that if you are currently that 10-17% pool of the unemployed – let alone under employed, you are probably not dancing around the maypole just yet.
Last week, I met with 3 folks as part of the career coaching that I do. I was glad to hear that 2 of the 3 individuals had strong leads and promising second (or third) interviews. Does that very informal and highly unscientific poll (not to mention small sample size) mean things are getting better on the job front? I don’t know – but for folks that are in transition (such a sanitized word for what is for a lot of folks prolonged months of terror), it doesn’t matter.
The job market is what it is – and there is only one market (if independent wealth or relocation to Tibet are not part of your options). It is not easy and it is not fun but if you find yourself on the hunt, you must navigate your way through this current storm and learn and enhance the tools you need to get to the other side in one piece.
Recently, I conducted a workshop here in the Twin Cities on job search/networking skills (very boringly and verbosely) entitled 20 Questions (and Answers) about Job Search/Resumes/Interviews and Networking. Over the next few weeks (perhaps months), I’ll be reprising these topics (20 more post hooks already in the bag!) with a slightly sexier title. I am not sure what the over-under is on getting all 20 out before the end of the calendar year (but stretch goals are always good for a body).
Question #1 | Where do I look for jobs?
If you have not been in the market for a new gig in the last 8 years (since the last major job recession) – let alone the last 2 years (with the explosion of social media), then it is a far different landscape than the last time you were out there.
A story I retell often is one I nicked from a gentleman at a job support group back in 2001 (when I was in transition myself). To stay positive and energized, the man cancelled his daily newspaper subscription to force himself to shower, get dressed and walk the mile to the convenience store every day to buy it in person (and then take it home and comb the want ads).
Unfortunately that story had a shorter shelf life than the Ho-Ho’s that were next to the paper stand. Things have changed: (1) Newspapers are folding and downsizing faster than Valerie Bertinelli (2) they don’t have many want ads (which causing problem #1 in the first place). So if you are still circling Wants Ads –that’s not going to work very well.
Change is constant. This is a good news/bad news deal on the job hunt. Good news – there’s a greater number of avenues to connect you with someone who is hiring (that’s your first goal). The downside is there is a greater volume of noise for you to sift through, greater competition (I don’t have to read your local grocery store shopper to know about a job in your neighborhood) and also constant vigilance required on your part to stay ahead of it all.
Where or where can they be?
So where are the jobs – and where do you need to look? Start here:
- Networking On our way to 20 questions, I will have a number of posts specifically talking about networking. By far – this is the most important channel of your job search that you need to focus on. Impossible to prove, but depending on who you listen to, it is estimated 50-85% of the job requisitions are filled through networking (e.g. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics puts it at 70 percent). This doesn’t mean you ignore the other avenues, but you really want to spend 70-80% of your search time and effort here. Remember – this is not just for white collar (slick sales guy) jobs. Networking is just as important all across the vocation spectrum (it is how I got my first job at Musicland…another thing that dates me….a record store, what is that?)
- (Target) Company Websites Hopefully you’re not (solely) shot gunning your job search and that you have identified companies (1) that are hiring – or will be hiring soon and (2) that have positions that you could fill. On their websites, check the careers page - register for email updates of new posting if they have that. Also check the PR portion of their site. If they are getting new VC money (theoretically it still happens) or they are announcing new business units – those are signs they may soon be hiring. Also look for notices of layoffs (sadly - that sometimes indicates current employees are being sacrificed to hire new ones).
- Business journals Like the company website above – this is a good source of business intelligence. Subscribe to the regional and industry business journals in your target market (like the Business Journal) to keep up on what companies are doing. Most offer RSS or Twitter feeds as well.
- Job boards (Monster/Career Builder, etc) Yes – the successor to the Wants Ads. Every time I tell folks that (again – unsubstantiated statistic) 75-85% of jobs on that board are not real, they first (1) freak-out (2) the light goes on why they never hear back from all the resumes they submit. You don’t want to ignore any channel in your search (real leads are on there), but limit the time on the less successful avenues (this is more of quantitative that qualitative channel). Further – set job agents on these sites (to fish wider and quicker).
- Recruiters If you think it is 1999, and 15 recruiters call you a day with a boatload of opportunities, the game has changed (have you noticed?). However, this is an extremely valuable resource (for candidates and companies). My next post will specifically talk about this conduit.
- Professional associates Another form of networking – leveraging your peers. Either meetings you attended (you do go to meetings of your peers, don’t you?) or websites/social sites where your kind congregates is great for leads.
- Online/Social Media sites This crosses a few lines (with the items mentioned). You can use it to track your target companies, your industry and also job boards that use these tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS, etc). You can also use these sites to broadcast yourself (e.g. updating status on LinkedIn or Facebook letting the world know). Be careful what you post (remember this marketing – not therapy).
- Onsite Yes. People still put Help Wanted signs in their front window.
That’s a few places to start – not an unabridged list (have you talked to your Mother lately?). Whatever it takes and wherever you need to go, make sure to leave no stone unturned. However, try to limit the number of rocks you lift up that have nothing (or nothing for you) under them.
Disclaimer: As with all job search advice you receive (from here or elsewhere), results may vary – use at your own risk. You must be the captain of your own career. The last thing I say to all my career coach clients is “ignore what doesn’t feel right, use what makes sense to you – and if something works for you – pass it on”.
Next up: Question #2 | Should I use a recruiter/headhunter?