Guest Post by Matt Keegan - You’re looking for work and have hit a brick wall, finding that few people are hiring or they have not expressed much interest in hiring you. Times are certainly tough and the direction you should take isn’t always that clear, but you know one thing: you want to work and you need to work — the sooner, the better too.
Before you send out yet another resume or make contact with a recruiter, an associate or a friend, you need to evaluate where you are now and where you are going. Yes, you need to examine what you’re doing to discover if you’re on the right path and, if not, how to get back on track fast.
1. Explore your field — Not only have the goal posts been moved since you last sought employment, but the field has been changed too. Jobs have disappeared or have been sent overseas with entire industries vanishing. Take a look at your current field including the companies that were your competitors.
If each of those businesses has scaled back or folded, then you need to refine your search to take in a new field. For example, if you were in the information services sector when you lost your job, then you know that most of those jobs have now been outsourced. You may be able to stay in your field, but you need to know what the current trends are. Check out BLS.gov for U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information about your career.
2. Seek additional training — With entire fields eviscerated, you may need additional training to help make your skills current. Likely, you won’t have to return to school to obtain a new degree, but you may need to secure fresh training to make yourself more marketable. Obtain the job listings from companies that are of interest to you and look over the hard skills required.
If you have a computer background, but lack the required C++ programming experience, you should take a course from your local community college or through a reputable online school to build up your skills. The problem with your job search may not be so much your job history, but a lack of current skills. Many older workers need to seek additional training to be relevant and employable for the 21st century.
3. Research potential companies — With your field narrowed considerably, you may know which companies are still in business and are showing enough life for potential hiring. You’ll also want to learn as much as possible about these companies, something that you can easily do by searching the Internet.
Go to the company’s website and be prepared to read its web pages. Get a feel for where the company is today and where they’re planning to go in the months and years ahead. Look at its financial statements too. Oftentimes that information is NOT published on the company’s website, but is available through the Securities and Exchange Commission’s site.
Pull up the company’s annual (10K) and quarterly reports (10Q) and read the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Yahoo! Finance for information about the company. If they’re planning to expand or lay people off, you’ll be able to uncover that information.
4. Get your resume professionally assessed — Some companies no longer require resumes, preferring to review your LinkedIn profile to gauge who you are, what you’re doing and where you’re going. Whether your work information is accessible online, on paper or both, you’ll want to ensure that what it says about you is accurate and relevant. You may think that your resume is pristine, but a savvy professional can see what you’re doing right as well as what you are doing wrong.
Today’s professional should be tech savvy too and can tell if your online presence is a hindrance. This may mean wiping out a forum posting, securing your Facebook page and cleaning up your name as found online. A good pro will be able to help you present yourself online and offline to potential employers.
5. Network like you mean it — There is networking and there is socializing, but the differences are not always clear. Let’s face it: you need people and people need you. This means aggressively expanding and maintaining your network of contacts, and building up a source of people who can help you find a job.
If you don’t have business cards, get some made up. Include your full name, your address, home and cell phone numbers, and your email address. Join your local business group, update your LinkedIn profile and find ways to keep in contact with people. If you recently received a severance package and aren’t sure what step to take next, offer your services for free to a nonprofit organization.
The long term unemployed are able to keep their skills up by helping out organizations that would otherwise do without. You’ll meet new people, acquire fresh skills and you’ll also receive a great recommendation from the executive director for a “job well done.”
6. Dress for success — Your wardrobe can help you or it can hurt you. Trouble is, we don’t always know whether our appearance is a distraction or a possible show-stopper. You may not need to hire a fashion adviser to help you create a winning wardrobe, but that can’t hurt.
What you should know is that most professionals are still required to project a certain image at least in the initial and subsequent interviews. That means being well-groomed, using minimal jewelry, having no visible body piercings and tattoos, wearing a clean and professional outfit, polishing your shoes, wearing minimal deodorant and sporting teeth that are clean and bright.
Have a loved one or a friend inspect you before you go off for an interview and take this person’s critique to heart. One set of pierced ears is just fine, but an entire row of piercings can present you in a negative light.
7. Show thanks — When you arrange an interview, plan on arriving on time with enough time to spare. Take note of every person you meet and plan to send a thank you note to each person that interviews you. Did you know that only about five percent of jobseekers send thank you notes?
That’s a small number and something that can be easily overlooked, but not by you. Not sending a thank you note may not sink your job prospects, but it could help you stand out with recruiters. Employers are looking for people who are thoughtful and take the extra steps to help them succeed.
Send a handwritten or type note as soon as you return home from your interview. Should you send an email? Experts debate on this point, so play it safe by sending a note via the postal service. Carefully write your note, thanking the interviewer for their time, express your interest in the job and offer a personal comment. Check for misspellings, wrong word usage and other errors before you mail your note.
Each of these points alone may not help you find a job, but taken together they can certainly increase your chances of finding work. The key here is to improve your job prospects, therefore do whatever it takes to make yourself more marketable, an essential ingredient in the job seeking mix.
Matt Keegan manages Jet Venue a career and information website for members of the business aviation community. Jet Venue provides training, catering and charter information as well as salary reports including pay information for an aircraft mechanic.
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