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.
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.
Love 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
- Coming October 12: Downscoping Under Pressure: II
- We sometimes "downscope" projects to bring them back on budget and schedule when they're headed for overruns. Downscoping doesn't always work. Cognitive biases like the sunk cost effect and confirmation bias can distort decisions about how to downscope. Available here and by RSS on October 12.
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