The Job of Getting a Job
It Takes Work to Find Work
In a previous Hub on Maintaining a Positive Attitude After Being Laid Off, I stressed the importance of working daily at marketing your skills to employers after being laid off. Despite the fact that you have been laid off you should still consider yourself employed as a salesperson marketing and selling your skills to employers.
This means getting up every morning and putting in seven or eight hours writing and submitting resumes, reviewing job postings, visiting and calling employers, researching companies that have posted jobs or employers that you consider a to be likely prospects, etc.
I stress this to my students who come to me seeking employment advice, and point out that those who follow this regimen generally get jobs while those who don't tend to remain unemployed.
In the current recession, most of the graduates of the vocational training program I manage find positions within a month - a month in which they generally submit about 100 resumes and job applications and as many or more follow-up phone calls and emails as well as job interviews.
Focus on What You Can Do For an Employer and Not What You Want From Them
An optimist is generally one who looks at a glass filled with water to the half way point and describes it as half-full while a pessimist looks at the same glass and sees it as half-empty.
Similarly, in toady's tough economy, pessimists look upon reports of 9% to 10% unemployment as a lack of job opportunities while optimists look upon the same numbers as showing 90% or more people employed.
A job seeker's goal should be to join the 90% of those with jobs instead of remaining a part of the 10% unemployed.
Like any job, the job of finding a job, especially in this economy, is not easy. Marketing your skills is essential.
As any good marketer or sales rep will tell you, your focus must be on how the product or service being offered will meet the needs of the buyer and not on the anticipated commission from the sale.
In the same way, a job seeker's focus must be on the needs of the employer and not on their need for a job, a paycheck or benefits.
If the time, effort and services you are offering the employer will help them to produce what they need to produce they will be more than willing to compensate you just as a shopper in a grocery store expects to pay for their basket of groceries.
If you stop and think for a moment, all of us are employers part of the time.
When our cars are in need of repair we hire someone or some business to do the work. When we need daycare or schooling for our children we hire someone or some business to do the work. When we want to take a trip many of us hire a travel agent to make the arrangements. In each of these and many other instances we are paying someone else to do work for us.
In each of these instances, the people performing these services have pitched their services to us and worked to get our business. I don't know about you, but I have never gone door to door looking for someone to do such work for me. Instead, they usually come to me via advertising.
Further, I have never hired such people or businesses because I felt sorry for them or because they needed the business, etc. No, as consumers, we regularly hire and purchase from those who can best satisfy our needs.
Just as we focus on our needs when buying so, too, do employers when hiring. Like us, they want to find the people best able to do the work that will make money for them.
Temp Agencies Will Probably Be Hiring First
Your first applications should be with temporary agencies and job placement firms. Most major temporary firms are also in the business of providing hiring services for companies as well.
As I explained in my Hub on temporary services, during a recession when companies begin to find business improving they usually first add to their labor force by hiring through temp agencies just in case the rise in business proves temporary and they have to cut back on employees again.
Working with temporary agencies has additional advantages as well.
Temporary employment gives you a chance to both broaden your experience by working different jobs as as well as providing you with the opportunity to evaluate a job and an employer to see if you like it. If you discover that you don't like a particular type of work or particular employer simply tell the agency not to give you any more assignments for that job type or employer.
Even if the job is not a temp to hire, temporary work gives you the opportunity to become acquainted with different employers and demonstrate to them what you can do. If a job opens up with that employer in the future you can point out that you already have a track record and experience with them.
Working at different places also allows you to broaden your network of coworkers and supervisors who can be of help in finding a position.
You Will Need to Produce More Than One Version of Your Resume
Instead of posting a general resume on one or two job posting websites or randomly mailing out the same general resume to numerous employers, why not research employers who have posted jobs that you want or whom you know hire people with your skill set. This, of course, means that you should first get some information about the company.
When you see a posting describing a job for which you qualify, check the company out on the web (a Google search is a good place to start and Hoovers.com is a good source of free information on larger public companies).
Find and study their website. Check out other information about them with the goal of trying to find anything that will tell you more about the company and the job in question. This will help you to craft your resume specifically for that company and that position as well as to enable you to speak more intelligently in the interview.
By all means post your resume on line. Unless you are looking to find a job anywhere in the nation, it is a good idea to post on job sites that focus on your local area.
Don't hesitate to open an account (most are free for job seekers) and post your resume on more than one site. In addition to posting a general version of your resume on the site, check the site daily for new job postings and apply for those you want with a resume designed specifically for that company and job.
Be Prepared in Advance to Discuss Pay
Today's employment market is very competitive so one thing you will want to be able to do is discuss pay if it is brought up in the interview (and it usually will be).
First, determine the range you are willing to accept - the minimum you will need up to the realistic maxim you would like. Don't forget to include benefits, both what you want and would like but also what benefits you could afford to substitute for cash income.
For instance, if you are paying say $400 per month for medical insurance for your spouse and children and an employer offers to cover them along with you at no cost to you, you could safely accept up to $400 per month less in regular pay and still come out ahead or even.
The time to figure out what you need in terms of minimum pay and benefits as well as the realistic maximum is before the interview and not during it.
With some research you can find information about pay scales and benefits from the company's website (especially benefits but also usually some hints about pay as well), as well as from sites of industry trade groups, employment agency sites, Federal and state departments of labor sites and others.
One note of caution, most non-company data will be from sites displaying national average ranges so make sure that you base your estimates on what your prospective company will be offering on what is common for your area. Friends and acquaintances who work for the employer you plan to apply at or in the same industry can also be a source of information about what to expect in terms of pay.
Hard Work Can Pay Off
While a lot of work goes into finding a job, the payoff is worth it.
Not only will you be actively taking charge of your future rather than moping around bored and depressed waiting for this market downturn to end, but there is a very good chance that you will find a position and be drawing a paycheck soon.
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