Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 9, Issue 27;   July 8, 2009: Finding Work in Tough Times: Strategy

Finding Work in Tough Times: Strategy

by

If you're out of work and discouraged — or getting there — you're in great company. Better than ever before. Getting back to work starts with getting to work on finding work. Here's a collection of strategies for the job of finding work.

You're out of work. Perhaps you were laid off, or maybe the company folded. You've been looking for work, and it's discouraging. The situation is serious and news reports are saying that things will probably keep getting worse for a while. It's now difficult to stay energized about looking for work.

U.S. Unemployment Rate in percent

U.S. Unemployment Rate in percent, from January 1999 through June, 2009. Notice that the curve is still rising. Although the latest month shows a decrease in the rate of rise, it's premature to call that a trend. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey.

One day you noticed you were grateful for a "no thanks" response to one of your job inquiries, because at least it was a response. Some days, your heart isn't really in it. Other days, you don't do much at all.

The challenge of this environment is both a curse and a blessing. It's a curse because the challenge can sap motivation, and that can lengthen the period of unemployment. It's a blessing because working hard at finding work despite the challenging environment makes you stand out, and that enhances the probability of landing a good job.

To help you decide to give this task everything you have, I've compiled a collection of strategies for shortening your path to your next job. In weeks to come, we'll look at ideas for setting up and managing your infrastructure, tactics and strategy for marketing yourself, and sharpening your communications skills. But let's begin with overall strategy.

Looking for a job is a full-time job
Think of yourself as having a job, and report to work each day. Keep office hours. Dress your part. Decide whether it's a five-day-per-week job or six; rarely more, never less. Observe national holidays. Take sick days and allotted vacation days when needed. Make a plan for the month, day, and week, and report status each morning to your boss — you. Self-supervision can be a bit tricky because you have an inherent conflict of interest, but do your best.
Know what employers are looking for
Imagine that you're an employer looking for someone like you. What do you want in a candidate? What don't you want? Make lists of these assets and liabilities. Know where you stand relative to these assets and liabilities. Make plans for promoting those assets, and for addressing those liabilities.
Set a schedule
Schedule your appointments, of course. But also schedule your projects, such as resume customization, training (on-line or in person), shopping for a desk lamp, or computing your run rate.
Get additional certifications
If having the right Looking for a job is a
full-time job. Think of
yourself as having a
job, and report to
work each day.
certifications would make you more marketable, get them. If you have several different certifications, don't be concerned about looking like you're unfocused — disclose only those that are relevant to each particular position.
Enroll in continuing education classes
Classes that support relevant certifications are a great idea. Classes that help you acquire relevant skills even without certifications are great, too. Institutional prestige is less important for certificates than it is for degrees. Often overlooked: business writing, public speaking, etiquette, and languages.

Certainly some of these strategies don't apply to you. Which do and which don't? And there might be others that do apply to you. Find them. They're important. Next in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: Finding Work in Tough Times: Infrastructure  Next Issue

For more on finding work in tough times, see "Finding Work in Tough Times: Infrastructure," Point Lookout for July 15, 2009; "Finding Work in Tough Times: Marketing," Point Lookout for July 22, 2009; and "Finding Work in Tough Times: Communications," Point Lookout for July 29, 2009.

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

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I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenDDApbwqLKpONyqtPner@ChacOWNTCkbXUBcOhfUgoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

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MasteChanging How We Change: The Essence of Agilityry of the ability to adapt to unpredictable and changing circumstances is one way of understanding the success of Agile methodologies for product development. Applying the principles of Change Mastery, we can provide the analogous benefits in a larger arena. By exploring strategies and tactics for enhancing both the resilience and adaptability of projects and portfolios, we show why agile methodologies are so powerful, and how to extend them beyond product development to efforts of all kinds. Read more about this program. Here are some upcoming dates for this program:

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ConflConflict Resolution Skills for Leadersict is inherent in collaborative work. When conflict is constructive, it produces better outcomes. When it's destructive, it can be an insurmountable obstacle to success. In this program, we explore the connections between the outcomes of collaboration and conflict in both of its forms. And we emphasize the skills needed most by leaders. The leader's task is to manage conflict so as to ensure that the group achieves its objective with its capacity to collaborate intact, or even enhanced. Rick Brenner shows team leaders and team sponsors the techniques they need to manage team conflict for relationship safety and better outcomes. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

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Your Influencing Outcomes Without Authorityability to influence others — whether upward, downward, laterally, or within a team — always depends on both the quality of your relationships with the people you influence, and on your perception and their perception of your personal power. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you the techniques for making things happen not by using formal organizational power, but by using informal, personal power. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Strategies for Leading Teams in Hard Times
When Strategies for Leading Teams in Hard Timesa project team is on task, the contributions of leaders are important, and little noticed. Sometimes the team encounters unexpected difficulty, or requirements change, or budgets are reduced, or any of a number of other things might happen. In these cases, the leader must make or facilitate decisions about how to respond or how to revise the plan. We get through it somehow. Hard times are something else altogether. Despondency, disillusionment, resource shortages, unexpected and severe failure of the plan, and toxic conflict can erode morale. How can leaders deal with such situations? Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Strategies for Technical Debt: A Workshop for Enterprise Leaders
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Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

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