By: Christine Richardson, M.Ed., NCC
Throughout my professional career I have witnessed and experienced many economic situations that have asked us to reevaluate how we work and how we find work. In 1992 my family and I moved to the southern tier of New York State where a significant downturn in the economy forced many, who believed they had had established life-long careers, to change their careers quickly and significantly. Although not directly affected by the multi-thousand employee corporate downsizing, I needed to find a job. I used my networking skills to assist me in uncovering the jobs that were available but not advertised. I made some cold calls and made calls based on referrals from others. One phone call particularly stands out in my mind. The person I contacted was well-connected in the community and I asked him if he would summarize the job market for me. His response, “…grim…”
Twenty-six years later, we find ourselves in much the same situation. But I am optimistic. Having worked in the college career services industry for many years there is evidence that supports the following: when the economy is down and jobs are scarce there is still the need for good employees. Employers are still hiring. Every economic down turn and up swing provides opportunities for job seekers.
The following are some ways that job seekers can maximize their job searches. Believe it or not, these are the same strategies to be used in a good and in a bad economy.
- Know what you want to do. Your job in the job search process is to sell yourself to an employer, not the other way around. Employers are looking for (scanning) for specific skills and experiences. Help the employers see what you can offer them.
- Evaluate your goals and list your career options.
- Create a list of employers who would hire candidates with your skills, education and experience.
- When looking for a job, approach it like you are going to work. Establish “job search work hours.” Plan your job search project and list objectives. This can help you stay on track and will maximize your use of time.
- Use a variety of sources to uncover leads and position openings. This includes company-specific web sites, job search web sites, professional associations, recruiters and recruiting firms, personal networking, college career services offices, online and face-to-face networking groups and yes, believe it or not, newspapers. Some employers still advertise in the newspaper.
- Respond to job openings in a timely manner. Many employers list that the time frame for considering candidates as “open until filled.” If you wait too long to respond you may miss out on an opportunity.
- Have your application materials prepared so when you apply for positions you can easily access your documents. Edit the content of your resume for each position you apply for based on the employers’ requirements. Use wording similar to the employer’s to discuss and explain your qualifications.
- Write cover letters that will entice the employer to contact you. As with your resume, word your cover letter to convey that you have what the employer is seeking.
- Save all your applications. This is extremely helpful in managing your time and can help you when preparing other applications.
The job search process is a marathon and not a sprint. Employers are seeking hard-working and dedicated employees. They will take the time to determine if you are a fit with their organization. Please allow time for the process to play out. From the date an employer posts a job opening to the date a new employee starts his/her first day of work can be as much as six months for all the pieces to fall into place.
In 1992, did I find employment? Yes. I put into place all the strategies listed and I secured employment before our move to New York. The same strategies that worked in 1992 are relevant today. It’s hard work but it will pay off.
||Christine Richardson is the Director of Career Services at upstate New York’s Cazenovia College. Ms. Richardson has extensive knowledge in the areas of career counseling and assisting students and alumni with job searches and career development opportunities, including interviewing, resume and cover letter preparation.