When you feel like giving up

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help2Apparently my brain is taking a Columbus Day holiday even though I must physically be in my cube at work today. Despite surfing the Web and Twitter for inspiration and inhaling about 50 caramel candy corn (that works doesn’t it?), a bad case of writer’s block has been plaguing me all day.

This got me thinking about when job seekers hit mental blocks, and their drive and motivation is shattered. With 6.3 job seekers competing for every available job and about 5 million people classified as long-term unemployed it’s not surprising that a lot of discouraged and even giving up.

Career consultant Duncan Mathison, co-author of “Unlock the Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times are Tough,” tells discouraged job seekers to “Never give up; never give in.” He are his five tips for staying motivated during a long job search:

1.       Prepare for an extended search. When the job market shrinks, it takes longer to land a job.  Adjust your finances and your expectations now to extend your staying power. Stopping the search until the economy improves is like the farmer who will go hungry at harvest because they didn’t plant seeds in the spring.  Do not give up. Keep planting those seeds.

2.      Don’t waste your time on long-shots. If you are only applying to posted jobs and those seem far and few between, your tendency is to cast a wider net by applying outside your geographic area or outside of your expertise (“I could do that job!”). This is a dead-end strategy and you will only face more painful rejection and depressing stories of 500 applicants to 1 job. When it comes to job postings: focus, focus, focus.

3.      The right job for you is out there – it just won’t be advertised. Employers cut recruiting budgets when times are tight.  Instead hiring managers use less expensive and informal word of mouth strategies. As a result a higher percentage of available positions are in the “hidden job market”.  Job seekers must significantly expand the quality and quantity of their networking efforts to find unpublished jobs.

4.      Leave the resume at home. The secret to good networking is to help your network help you. Instead of a resume, give people in your network (everyone you know) a list of 50-75 employers who you think would hire people with your type of skills.  Do not ask if the companies are hiring.  Instead ask if anyone knows people who work there – particularly managers who might hire and manage people with your skills.

5.      Contact managers directly. Get their name, get an introduction and introduce yourself to them.  Your introduction can be a simple, “I understand you have people with my kind of background and skills working for you.  I don’t assume to know if you have job openings but I would like to meet you and learn more about the type of people you like to have on your team and share with you a bit about my background.” They may say “sure”, they may say “send a resume” or they may say “no”, but now they know about you. Remember the ONLY thing managers can do to assure their success is to meet and hire great people.  And that’s you!

While these are great words of advice, many long-term job seekers will likely say “Easier said than done” or “I’m doing all these already.” We’ll continue to look for other ways to fight your despair.

If you are a job seeker or someone who was recently hired and has found a way to keep your sanity during your search, share your tips here.

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