21 Tips for Job Seekers in Tough Times

23 Aug

by: Remie Longbrake | published Aug. 23, 2020

If you are looking for a job, you are not alone. Times are difficult for many. The times we are facing and challenging and unpredictable at best. The Covid-induced World we are in has surprised most of us. Several months contending with this pandemic have turned the economic environment on it’s head and leaving so many without employment.

Given the times we are in, we wanted to put together a viable guide to seeking employment and using your resources effectively. If you are fortunate enough to have a job but still want to land a better position, well then use these tips to better prepare and put your best foot forward.

1. Get back to work

This is a given, but you’ll want to get back to work as soon as possible. Even if it’s not in your desired area, any work is better then being unemployed. If your employer is downsizing, it’s recommend taking a pay cut or even working for free if it’s feasible to do so, at least for a short time. I know many people can’t or refuse, however you are showing your employer you are committed and flexible. That could very well pay dividends in the future, plus you're still working. If the current employer does not work out, then do all you can to stay employed doing something. You may consider working for them then picking up a part time job to help cover bills. Just the act of doing something of value helps your own mindset when things are difficult.

2. Be realistic

Now is the time to prepare yourself and your expectations. You’ll want to prepare not only your resume, but also your budget and get that in check as best as possible. Be prepared that the time to find new employment will likely take longer then you think it would as many other people are also looking as well. It's in times like these that it's important to not live paycheck to paycheck. This is a reality check as much as anything, and this is the time that you need to be prepared. If you're not, then you're going to need to get resourceful and creative in your work and your finances.

3. Be understanding

These times are challenging for not only families but also businesses. Many businesses have been shut down and had to let people go. It’s estimated that up to 25 percent of small businesses will not return. Those businesses that are hiring again are being cautious. With both the pandemic and an election year, there is a lot of uncertainty. Hiring new employees is a costly endeavor. So if you have opportunity to be interviewed, consider the employers side and be emphatic and grateful even if you don’t land the job.

4. Research your industry

You’ll want to understand where your industry is headed and the challenges being faced. It’s best for your own benefit that when you speak with these hiring managers, recruiters and leaders, you can better relate to them and it shows you know what you are talking about more so then just wanting a job. You can look at hiring trends and government insights and trending data to better understand the job environment.

5. Make connections

Regardless of the economy, if you want to get ahead, you need to continue making contacts. One of the biggest down falls of people I see is they stay in their own bubble of friends and colleagues and don’t ever leave that environment. It’s unlikely you’re going to get far if you don’t meet new people and try to connect and help others. Try to seek friends of your friends, get invovled in the community. If you are working, find out about events, gatherings, and if anything seek the executives of your business. Find out what people need and be a problem solver for others.

6. Get known

What are you known for? Outside of your given work experience, what do you do? If someone asks what do you do, how do you respond? The typical answer is, “Well I do x for a living.” I guarantee you do more then just work. You are likely also a parent, son, daughter, and friend. What do you enjoy doing? Talk about that too. Be relatable with people, help educated others with your experiences and be known for something other then work. You can get known in many ways, online, in the community, at church. The more people you know and the more you help others the more opportunities for yourself and your family.

7. Invest in yourself

There is nothing more effective to advance your career and increase opportunities then investing in yourself. Investing in yourself is more then going back to school however. Although that is great if it makes sense financially and will help your advancement. This also includes simple things like budgeting your finances, reading books, networking and prioritizing your time and resources.

8. Improve your work-related skills

If you feel you need to better you chances for employment, consider taking classes to better yourself and better your odds. This could be classes in person but online too. If your position would benefit from a certification such as IT roles or those in business management, consider qualifying for those and putting in the time to get your certification.

9. Improve your soft skills

Now is a great time to focus on your soft skills. There are more skills then what you do at your job. Although actual experience is valuable to employers, you also want to better your soft skills. These include time management, work ethic, being adaptable, teamwork, leadership, problem solving, and many other skills that you need to develop that an employer cannot necessary teach. Figure out what you need to improve on. If your not sure ask others for their opinions. If time management is a big one, then perhaps start using a scheduler on your phone even for little things. If you would like to improve team work go volunteer, join something that you care about and share your value with others. If you want to be a better leader, get involved and offer to take initiative on a project or cause that matters to you.

10. Focus on selling

For what you might think, selling is not a bad. Sales people do tend to get a bad wrap thought. Many are pushy and sometimes we feel pressured to buy something. We have all been in that situation. Truth is however, if you want to improve yourself, one of the best things you can do is to learn how to sell yourself. Selling is a skill in itself, from listening, communicating effectively, following up, overcoming objections, ect. These are all valuable life skill that we all need to learn. You don’t have to have a sale career in order to learn selling. You already sell your ideas, perspectives, and possibly products in your day to day routine. You can very much improve your circumstances just by learning to sell. There are many online training and Youtube videos that can help train you in sales and make you better in this area.

11. Update your resume

You’ll want to update your resume to include most recent work experience. Regardless of position, keep your resume to no more then two pages. You can list your skills as a separate category, but it’s best to define those skills in specific examples given your experience. Depending on your age, work experience, and job applying for you might want to include college curriculum and community involvement. It does depend regarding the format, but keep your resume well organized, easy to read and precise.

12. Post your resume

You’ll want to get your resume posted with as much viability as possible. Today it is rather easy to post your resume, the problem with that is however, is everyone else posts theirs too. Indeed, Monster, and Career Builder are among the best known, and you’ll certainly want to post with them. You can also use your own local or regional job boards which generally have resume uploading options as well.. When it comes to posting your resume online, you’ll want to have a good headline that is specific to your abilities and employment type your seeking. You will also want to update your resume at least bi-weekly and make small changes, this way your resume will stay among the top of the search results.

13. Send cover letters

I hear often cover letters are no longer needed or looked at. This can be true in some circumstances, however, a cover letter provides the opportunity to highlight your skills, experiences, and relate how you can help the employer. Ideally, you will want to include your cover letter, no matter the position. You do not want to be vague, use examples to back up what your stating in your letter. If you don’t send a cover letter then you are missing out on opportunities. Yes, it may not get looked at, however it shows you come prepared.

14. Seek connections with recruiters

Recruiters are in a special place; and their positions exist for a reason. They see both sides of the spectrum, from both the employers side and employees they look to recruit. Seek these connections out, as they can be a wealth of knowledge and can benefit greatly in your job search. Let them know what your looking for, your skills, and be upfront and candid. You can seek these people out both in your community and online. Be willing to jump on a call or have a quick chat online. Also, don’t forget your city or county employment agencies and any job fairs in your area. Of course, once you connect with the recruiters don’t wait on them to call you, take initiative and contact them either by phone, email, or text, depending on their preferences.

15. Get social on social

One of the best things you can do is stay relevant and stay involved, this goes for our online presence as well. Connect, communicate, and share value. This will help your chances to get hired. You’ll want to be careful of what you post online however. Polarizing topics such as politics and religion probably is not the best solution to getting employed. People have opinions, which is fine, but you don’t want to come off too strong or judgemental of others when you do post. You’re welcome to give your opinion but try to stay positive and offer solutions rather then beat someone down because you don’t agree. You’ll also want to consider all the posts you’ve made in the past. If your profiles are publicly visible, which they should be, keep in mind recruiters and employers are going to go looking at your profiles. No matter of what you mention in your resume, if you come across negative or insecure online you are going to hurt your chances.

16. Use LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the gold standard of making online professional connections. Much more so then Facebook, so if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile you will want to create one. It’s easy to reach out to new people, stay connected and up to date with resources that matter in your field of expertise. Of course your can post content, but as stated before, be relevant, stay positive and offer solutions over opinions. What I like about LinkedIn, is the content is more professional and people are generally there to share value. In your profile, you certainly will want to highlight your skills, experience, and what you do. If you are looking for employment then don't be afraid to put that right in your headline. That allows others to better know what you are looking for and get a conversation started.

17. Practice the interview

Get ahead of the process and practice! You’ll want to get it right. Nice thing right now is that many first interviews are occurring over the phone or online. You can very easily do practice with your spouse or a friend to better prepare. Each interview is unique in regards to the questions asked, but you can certainly practice a short 2 minutes introduction of yourself and get that in rhythm. When it comes to actual questions the interviewer may ask, go online and print a list off and practice your answers. Have your friend, wife, sister, whoever, ask these questions and you answer them. Be fair with yourself and keep at it till you’re ready for the real thing.

18. References

You’ll want to prepare your list of references for when the time comes. Ideally, you’ll want minimum of three professional references and three personal. If you can come up with more that's great. Contact those references first and don’t blindly put their names down without asking permission. Let the references know that your looking. When you do get called into an interview, have your references ready for them. Even before the interview, let your references know they may be getting a call from that employer. Once you find employment, thank your references, send a card and be willing to return the favor.

19. Have the offer in mind

Understand many business are in a down turn and there is uncertainty. They may not necessary be offering the same pay you were at. You’ll want to prepare your budget ahead and have your bottom number in mind for when the offer does come you can honestly say yes or no. If the offer doesn’t meet your expectations, let the interviewer know why and explain that to them. Perhaps a better offer will be made, but if not, be appreciative of them and understanding. If you can offer flexibility on your end and take less starting out, let that be known as well.

20. Send thank you’s

Here a great tip if you want to stand out a little more. After the interview has occurred send out a thank you card to the interviewer. Make sure you get their name right, but this shows that you are grateful and respectful and are willing to go above the norm. You could also send an email, but emails get lost,so cards are preferred. Keep it simple, and you can say something to the effect of: “Thank you for your time. I enjoy speaking with you on (date) and learning more about the (job discussed). I know times are challenging and appreciate all you’re doing.” I would try to keep it simple and sincere. Even if you don’t get that specific job, it may open doors next time something comes about or perhaps they may refer you to another business since you were so nice. Don't expect it, but being nice shouldn't come with exceptions.

21. Take responsibility

These times are challenging. Those who get ahead are those who go above the norm. It’s up to you to make things happens. Most job seekers simply submit their resume and wait for the phone to ring. You should consider taking initiative and communicating regularly with your contacts. Offer to help others and stay informed. When you do get the opportunity to interview show up on time, know some about the company, the industry challenges, and be prepared to answer how you can make a difference.

In closing:

Please use these tips to help land your new position. Times may be tough, but with the right mindset and willingness to excel, you can land the job you need. Right now, it may not be the ideal job, but consider it progress and be appreciative for the opportunity. I find a good attitude goes a long way. It’s not about having the best and most enjoyable job, it’s about having the best opportunity. And that opportunity is what you make of it.

If we can help your transition to finding new employment easier, please let us know! We are happy to assist with resume creation, interview prep, skill assessment, budgeting, and to help with your confidence so you can excel and land a position that helps you and your family.

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