Recession-proof ways to jumpstart your job search

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There’s been more bad news about the economy lately, like the Department of Labor’s recent reports. Initial filings of unemployment claims are at a 16-year high, at 542,000.

It’s clear that getting a job is more challenging in this atmosphere. But jobs ARE still out there.

Here are some suggestions that might help get job seekers out of a job search rut.

Find a career coach. Few of us can afford to hire an accredited career coach. But if you don’t have the resources to hire your own career coach, there are several ways to tap into an informal “coaching” network.

  • Use your professional networking tools like BrightFuse and LinkedIn. On BrightFuse, you can ask companies questions and you can join groups where other people in your field can give you practical advice.
  • Many city and state governments have resources dedicated to helping people get jobs. You can work with these agencies or volunteers, who may have network connections that would help you find the right job opportunity.
  • There are professional groups for many industries out there, whether your industry is white-collar, blue-collar or service oriented.

No matter what, you should try to find at least three objective voices who are smart and savvy and in your chosen field (not friends and family). Have them look at your resume and experience and ask them for recommendations.

Be open to constructive criticism and be ready to make changes to your resume – and possibly your career path – based on their recommendations.

Identify short-term needs and long-term goals. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to get the best fit possible for them when they’re job searching.

But when positions are limited and the economy is uncertain, waiting for that absolutely perfect gig may be unrealistic (and unhealthy for your bank balance).

You may need to take an interim job – a job you may be in for a year or two until other positions in your field open up.

You can still be sensible about finding that interim job and make it fit into your long-term career strategy. Here are some ideas to keep in mind.

  • Though many people focus on a specific field or industry when they define their career goals, think of transferable skills. If your work is organized and focused and you can multitask with ease, these individual skills can be assets for you in any number of fields.
  • Even if a potential new job is far outside of your core area of study or experience, you can try to find opportunities that still enhance your overall career path. For example, if you’re seeking a position in media and journalism, but end up taking a sales position as an interim job, you may want to consider working in newspaper or magazine ad sales. This would give you an idea of the other side of the business, and would be great knowledge to have if you became a manager or senior editor of a print publications.
  • Be sure to pick an interim job that has benefits you can take advantage of. Many companies have tuition reimbursement. Company may also help workers take advantage of free or low-fee classes to enhance basic skills like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as any classes or certifications a worker in your field might need. It’s especially important to take advantage of training and education opportunties if your original career path is changing and the job opportunities are shrinking there.

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20 Comments
  1. Interim jobs are a very good idea. It’s important to take stock and see where else a candidate’s skills can be used effectively without going so far out of bounds that a banker is now applying for jobs as an auto mechanic. Articulating such a transition calls for changes to your resume and also to cover letters.

  2. I agree 100%. Interim positions are great if you can find them, often they are highly challenging, above average salary or bonus structure, but are limited in time. A great opportunity to learn some new skills!

    So keep up the job search while you are employed, never miss out on an opportunity.

    As Marsha points out in her comment, a dynamic and enticing resume with cover letter clearly stating you are the perfect candidate are so important.

  3. Unemployment is at an all time high and you can be PICKY about your “interim” job? I’d like to know how. In this economy, I will take almost any job I can find. I’m not as worried about my career as I am about surviving and putting food on the table and a roof over our heads. I can’t take time to find something that is beneath my regular pay but still in my “field”. Maybe I’ll tell that to the bill collectors or electric company.

  4. While we tend to concentrate our efforts on the new job hunter we should not forget the older searcher that has either been downsized or is looking for a change. Getting some fresh experience on your resume is a good move – from work, school, volunteering and/or hobbies.

    And making plans now for an exciting and fulfilling quasi-retirement also requires planning. Many of my current professors decided to return to school in their 50′s to get that long awaited PhD so they could make a career shift for retirement – you just have to be willing to let go of a little sleep for a few years… yawn.

  5. I have yet to find a hiring manager who considers work experience OUTSIDE the small slice of industry they occupy.

    I have yet to be considered for any positions outside my field of study or outside my core abilities.

    It sounds nice and salient on paper, making a mish-mash resume that emphasizes skills like “multi-tasking” and “organization” and “leadership” but MORE & MORE job searches begin with a computer, a screen, a standardized form, and an impersonal web portal. No space provided for “explaining career transitions” or interim employments.

    Managers don’t want a moldable candidate who is willing to learn. In my extended job searching experience (not by choice, mind you) hiring managers want the LONGEST concentrated, specialized experience and the lowest asking price. Personality & skill can be hashed out later.

  6. I agree with Jillian. It is becoming so that employers are looking at my resume, and I know they are thinking I am over qualified for a position due to my MBA. I can not even seem to find a server job, let alone a job in my field!

    I believe employers are looking at the long-term as well. They are looking at me and determining if I am a good investment for the company-am I worth hiring since I will probably leave when the economy picks up.

    This is the longest I have ever been without employment…since May. I am convinced it is going to be at least another two years before I find something…even if it is sweeping floors!

  7. Any job right now is some sort of income and to maintain work experience is essential right now. If there are no jobs out there volunteer as you continue on the job search to keep you busy and you never know who you’ll run into that might have a job lead for you??

  8. I have to agree with Jillian and Barb. I’m having difficulty staying positive while I go broke. I’m 55 with tons of experience, however, I have no College Degree. The automated resume programs pick that up and eliminate me right up front.

    Nobody picks up my resume, without someone in my network, somehow infuencing a decision maker to do so. Fortunately I always helped people out if I could, and unintentionally built a network that I realized over time was priceless.

    The last 4 years have been hell, but I found contract work to hold me over. I’ve been looking since May, and the 2 good bites I have just put off hiring until next year. Ouch !

  9. I would like to know when Barb got her MBA and whether she feels it was worth the cost. I have 15+ years actual marketing experience in music, but haven’t found a way to transition into other areas of entertainment or other industries, nor been successful at finding interim employment.

    I am considering getting my MBA thru night classes, but afraid of taking on student loan debt when already falling behind financially. I would also like to know if Barb or any other MBA grads out there have found companies are particular about what school issued the degree.

  10. You have to keep a positive attitude. I had an outsider look at my resume and help with changes. At least now I am getting a few responses (before nothing) but I do modify for the job I am applying for so as not to look overqualified. In the meantime look for event work that can be done for a couple of days or even a day at a time. It pays pretty good and since you only do it for a couple of days it doesn’t get you down.

  11. After years of being unemployed, getting all the education and throwing new ideas into my work search, one of the things I found useful is to consider each day a new opportunity.

    The grind of trying to “appear” to be ready for the job interview can be very grueling. The hope of knowing some of the reasons why an employer doesn’t give you a feeling that they will call you can help. Some companies hire from within, but, they are required to interview.

    Also, keep in mind that from their vantage point, the amount of people they may interview and who they have to choose from is a tremendously hard job for them. That may give you a reason not to beat yourself up the next time you feel you are rejected. The right place is where you’d rather be.

    Do the best you can to prepare what you want and need before you get accepted for a position, and my recommendation is not to have too many intereviews in one day. My limit was two..I realized my appearance was important, and the last thing I wanted to do is get stressed and take a job I’d want to quit in a month or so.

    One other thing to remember is not to talk about your boss or team-worker. Gossip comes around
    back to you. Slander doesn’t help the moral of the workplace.

  12. In regards to an MBA, try to get into a reasonable program or the best one you can get into. Networking is big when you get your MBA- keep track of all your classmates and keep in touch. I’d try to get a job where they give you some money towards an advanced education so you’re not paying for it all yourself. It’s not automatically going to get you a higher salary- you still have to prove your worth and have experience.

  13. How many networking events have you gone to for MBA’s? Have you contacted your alumni office? Have you really utilized LinkedIn? I hear a lot of complaints out there, but I don’t hear what actions people are taking. There are many resources to meet new people and network.

  14. I don’t know about interim jobs. I am like many of the other posters. I will take anything at this point. My husband is underemployed in a sales job with a base of $25K and he is an attorney. I have an MBA and over 10 years experience in my field and no job. We have a 6 month old son as well. We even make $150 too much per month to even qualify for food stamps. It doesn’t matter who you are and how educated you are. In this economy we are all struggling and interim jobs are just not presenting themselves or employers think you won’t stick around if they hire you and, of course, I wouldn’t if the right position came along. In the meantime, please tell me where you are finding all these interim jobs. Sigh…

  15. Oh and Joan… Yes, I have done linked in, contacted my alumni association, continue to go to networking events when I can find a sitter (which of course costs money we don’t have). I apply to jobs every day using Careerbuilder, Monster, etc. I have called my professional network of people letting them know that I am in the market.

    I can really go on for days but what is the point. I guess you can tell that I am really frustrated with the job search and fear losing my home and everything we have worked so hard for. Don’t assume that because people aren’t employed even when they are well educated it is because they aren’t tapping into all thier resources.

    Just another perspective on the matter…

  16. I agree with Barb, but in order for you to be marketable you may need to remove your advanced degree from your resume, even though that is painful. I have a masters degree, but the field I am looking at is only concerned with the appropriate training recieved for the field ( I have an MEd in counseling psych, but I am focusing on medical assisting)

  17. Due to the status of the economy, the old wisdom of getting an interim job is not absolutely correct. Getting the interim job is as difficult as getting a permanent, expecially for workers who have been “downsized” afer working for an organization for a number of years.

    If you do get an interim job, stay with it and see if it meets some of you personal values. You may find the job being more permanent than you think.

  18. I am re-entering the workforce,
    after about 3 years in retirement.

    I’ve decided to bone up on cfengine,
    in order to go after the high-end
    systems administration jobs.

    We’ll see how that works out…

    I will be happy to tech-support,
    if that’s what it takes!

    -gs

  19. I have been in the same job for 15 years and I am looking to change careers. I know is not the best time to switch but I am looking into federal government job not the state ones because right now they may be laying off like the rest to the country. Hopefully this will work out for me.

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