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Featured Article: Job Search Success in a Tough Economy

Naomi Kinert PhotoNaomi Kinert, M.A., MCDP, Career Counselor

Barely a day goes by without some additional dire news about the recent foreclosure crisis, rising costs of fuel, food and other basic commodities and instability in the stock market. All of this can make for unsettling times for job seekers, be they recent grads, downsized workers or people looking to make a career move. As anyone who's ever looked for a job knows, it can be a challenging task, even in the best of economic times, so when Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve notes that hiring has slowed, with new job creation falling by 17,000 this past January, it's enough to rattle even the most optimistic job seeker.

So how do you approach a job hunt in a tough economy? You employ proven job search strategies and you intensify your efforts. When I work with job search candidates, one of the questions I always ask is, "How many hours do you estimate you spent on your job search this past week?" I often hear 10 or maybe 20 hours, which is fine if you're not in a hurry to land or the job market is robust. But, in a tough market, job seekers need to look at their job search as a job in and of itself, i.e. plan on spending between 30 to 35 hours each week on job search activities. Initially, some job seekers are surprised to learn there is so much to do in a job search, but as we discuss the tactics for conducting a successful job search campaign, they realize there is plenty to do to occupy a full work week. Putting a cap on hours spent at 35 is recommended because pushing it to 40 hours can lead to job search stress and potential burnout for some job seekers.

Where to begin? First, it's important to have a plan. The old adage about the need to make a plan and work your plan is essential for a successful job search outcome. This means you need to make a list of all the various methods of job search you could engage in and prioritize how much time to devote to each method based on the type of job you're looking for, market place trends and salary level. Traditionally, job seekers looking for entry-level and skilled labor jobs might find success by responding to print or online ads or by filling out an application at an employer's site or enlisting the help of a staffing agency, while job seekers looking for mid-level and management and professional jobs might spend a majority of their time networking or working with recruiters. However, both groups should be using all methods, particularly in a tough economy.

For job seekers at any level, the most effective method is to have an in-person contact with those people who have the ability to hire you. This means attending career fairs, networking events, company open houses and any other recruiting opportunities. Generally speaking, people hire people they know and they feel they "know" you best when they've been able to meet you in person. Use the search features on this site to help you locate events in your local area or around the country.

A second critical step in landing your job is to make sure to follow up. Submit a resume or application, connect with a recruiter, network with a colleague then check back in a few days to confirm that your resume was received, find out if any new postings may have come up or see if your contact has thought of a lead or some new information that might help you in your job search since you made your initial contact. Make sure to thank everyone for their assistance and propose a time that you can check back in so you set the stage for a future contact. I call this being "politely persistent" - this means following up periodically so that you're top-of-mind. Also, never underestimate the power of networking. Get the word out about your job search to everyone you know. The more people who know you are looking for a job, the greater chance you have of learning about a potential opening.

Submitting your resume or application, networking, connecting with recruiters, attending career fairs and other recruiting events and following up with phone calls, emails and written correspondence will keep you busy, and the more active you are in your job search, the greater the probability you'll have of successfully landing the job even in a tough economy.

For information about career counseling services by Naomi Kinert see

Naomi Kinert, Program Coordinator
Internship and Career Center

Articles by Naomi Kinert
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