Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 9, Issue 27;   July 8, 2009:

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

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!

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.

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Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Tennis balls on a tennis court. Your fitness program can be a part of your job search.Coming July 28: Be Choosier About Job Offers: II
An unfortunate outcome of job searches occurs when a job seeker feels forced to accept an offer that isn't a good fit. Sometimes financial pressures are so severe that the seeker has little choice. But financial pressures are partly perceptual. Here's how to manage feeling that pressure. Available here and by RSS on July 28.
A beach at sunsetAnd on August 4: What Are the Chances: I
When estimating the probabilities of success of different strategies, we must often estimate the probability of multiple events occurring. People make a common mistake when forming such estimates. They assume that events are independent when they are not. Available here and by RSS on August 4.

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Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

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