Finding a job in an impossible time
Things are bad right now for so many people. I am not interested in hiding the "keys to the kingdom," as it were, so please find these two very important pointers here to help if you find yourself stuck not knowing how to find anything or feeling like you aren't qualified for anything.
1. Most jobs aren't found from postings. Not now, not last year, and not next year (I am not a psychic but I am 100% sure this will not change). Yet, we often think that our best chance for finding a job is scanning the stuff online. We look on Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, HigherEdJobs, NALPJobs, wherever your industry posts (most industries have a general board), and wherever your dream company posts. A few notes about job posts:
- Most of the places that people scan for jobs, like Indeed and Glassdoor, are aggregators. These are boards that are using an algorithm to go grab posts from other places and pull them into their own search engines. What that means is that while some of their posts are direct postings from people, MANY of them are not, and that also means they aren't getting everything that's out there. A large number of more savvy employers have different websites that make it so that their job postings don't "pull" easily into other websites. Translation: you aren't seeing all the postings in your area or in your search. They also often get the salaries wrong, so if you search by salary, please take those with a grain of salt and know that the salary they guesstimate is not a standard starting salary. I've seen those be off by 20K or more from personal knowledge. So if you want to work for a specific employer, check their own page, and I recommend making a list of every employer in an area you'd like to work for and check their postings every once and a while.
- Not every employer posts every job. Some employers are bound by law or HR policy to do so and/or to follow specific processes (and within that context cannot give you information about your application beyond what you see in the system). Sometimes it can take weeks for the posting to close, for the applications to be reviewed (I have seen some jobs even in good economies get hundreds of applicants and ALL have to be reviewed), and for initial interview requests to go out. Don't get hopeless if you don't hear for a few days or even a couple weeks. For one job I ended up getting, it took 3 months to hear something. That is a lot, especially when we are struggling along, but I just want you to be aware of some of the timelines these entities are up against. Often if they are searching for new employees they are also understaffed and trying to get everything done like usual on top of searching for employees. But, those employers that may not post jobs? You obviously won't find those sitting behind your computer staring at job boards.
- So, what do you do? Do something different -- engage on LinkedIn, polish up your materials so you are ready to hire (including your online presence), hey, maybe get your kids to take a nice new headshot for you in the backyard if you can. Let your network know you are looking for a job. Let them know what you are looking for. And let them know your skills. And then step back and think about how you can reach additional people. Think about people you knew one or two jobs ago that you haven't talked to in a while and check in with them. Don't ask for a job, ask them to keep you in mind if they hear anything -- this will let them not just look for postings where they are or have them reply with "but I don't hire anyone" -- this will alert them to keep their ears open for anything they hear about. Think about writing some blogs about things you know (and make sure they aren't done with a tone of criticizing former employers -- think about writing with a helpful tone).
- Keep open-minded about opportunities. If someone says "Oh I know about XYZ job in ABC industry," don't automatically reply with "I've never done that before" or "I don't know anything about ABC." Thank them, ask if they know how to apply or if they know who to contact about it, go do some research, spend some time looking at what they are asking for. A lot of jobs have titles that don't reflect well what they are asking people to do -- don't judge a job by its title.
2. Also, you have skills. You do, I promise. List out jobs you've had in the past. Have you worked with clients? You have client management skills. Have you worked with customers? I bet you have excellent customer service skills. Have you worked with processes, like moving paperwork through some administrative process? I bet you have attention to detail, ability to prioritize, ability to learn systems and collaborate with departments. Few of us are rocket scientists or brain surgeons. Most of us know how to communicate with people and how to get some paperwork through a process or sell someone something or build something. Those are very important skills in a large number of jobs. If you are stuck on the "skill brainstorming", get a very positive friend to talk to you - ask them to help you break your jobs up into all the skills that may be found in them. You want a positive friend, because if you are having trouble seeing the value in your skills, you probably also need some uplifting friend time anyway.
Hang in there. Keep going. Let me know if I can help. I have available on my Resources and Publications page some helpful documents if you do need some help with interview stuff or what to do once you've rewritten your resume, and if you need some more help right now and want a copy of my book, the NSFW Career Guide, contact me and let me know and I will send you a free ebook copy.