Being out of work, especially in a tough economy, is always a frustrating situation. You may start to feel a sense of hopelessness as the days and weeks go by without a job interview.
Luckily, the situation is not hopeless, even if you’ve struggled for months to find a new job. Below are strategies to help you rise above other job candidates.
Don’t rely only on newspaper and Web postings. Ask friends, family, and neighbors if they know of any job opportunities. Most jobs are found through a one-on-one contact. Many are never even advertised. They are simply waiting for the right person to stumble onto them. So don’t be shy about asking people who care about you and want you to succeed. And don’t be afraid to call people you haven’t seen for years. Many may be glad to help if they know you’re looking for work.
More and more employers are using online social networks such as LinkedIn and online job search engines such as Indeed.com to advertise jobs and find workers. You can easily create a profile on a site liked LinkedIn with your resume (without your home address or phone number), job history, online references, and a professional-looking photo. If you see a job listed on LinkedIn that you’d like to apply for, check under the company’s name to see if you know anyone who works there, even a friend of a friend. If those contacts are people who like you and your work, ask if they’ll consider recommending you or telling the HR department about your application.
Depending on your job training or skills, a union or another professional association could assist you in finding the right job. Associations generally offer job listings and support, such as additional education in your field or professional conferences and contacts. Alumni associations can also be useful. Ask contacts there who to send your resume and contact information to if a job comes up.
If you recently lost a job, you may have an outdated résumé. It might be time to start from scratch. You might want to get professional help or look at examples online. The new résumé style is short and to the point. It should give specific examples of how you helped your former employers succeed. It should also be professional-looking and well-organized.
Job interviews can definitely make anyone feel nervous. You will do better by preparing in advance. Write down some of the questions you might expect, such as, “Why do you want this job?,” “Why do you think you’re qualified for it?,” and “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” Then, have a trusted friend or relative help you prepare by going through the list of questions with you. Preparing thoughtful answers in this way can help you speak more clearly and confidently during a real interview.
During an interview, a potential employer is listening not only to how you answer questions, but also to what kind of questions you ask. Your questions can tell how much you’re interested in the job and if you understand the responsibilities and expectations of that job. Read up on the company before the interview by going to its website so you don’t ask questions that are already answered there. Ask questions like “What are the most important things to do to really succeed on the job in my first year?”
You’ve gotten in the door, and good manners will help keep it open. Sending a handwritten thank you note or even an online thank you email within two days of the interview will help keep you in the employer’s mind and in the running.