Do's and Don'ts for the New Year
Christina E. Rodriguez
According to the Department of Labor statistics, the unemployment rate seems to be around a steady nine percent, recently dropping from a 9.2 percent to 9. With the economy in shambles, there are many who are either looking for work or looking for a better job.
Take for instance, Emlyn Torres, 26, who lives in Chicago. A graduate of Northwestern University, Torres has been looking for a better job for lack of fulfillment in her present position, filling out applications, searching online for positions she's interested in and networking in similar fields.
"I've been trying to average five to seven applications submitted per week and at least three networking efforts made," she said. "I was just kind of looking for jobs almost every day and applying when I saw one I liked but I feel like I need to impose a little more discipline."
At a recent job seekers' seminar hosted at Instituto Cervantes, Nic Bruns, managing partner at Global Recruiters of Wheaton, presented tips and tricks to finding a job. From searching on job boards, which he advised not to do, to working with recruiters, Bruns pushed the idea that the best bet for anyone looking for a job would be to network.
"Networking, networking, networking," he said. Bruns advised that posting your resume to job boards may work against you, since that is the last place many recruiters look for a potential candidate.
But it doesn't take away from the fact that finding a job in this economy is quite the difficult task. Bruns told stories about how experienced executives are taking jobs at a $30,000 or more pay cut. The competition is brutal and many times, job seekers are not seeing results the way they'd like.
"I feel like there's got to be something I'm missing; something I could or should be doing differently," said Torres. "The more I talk to people whether informational interviews, networking conversations, talks with my coworkers or career advisor, they say I'm doing the right things."
For the most part, looking for a job can feel like a job. Torres spends 10-15 hours a week in applying for jobs, part of that attempting to break into different job markets where she wants to work.
"I got good tips on emphasizing my ties to [California]," said the LA native. "My career advisor says California is a particularly difficult market to break into even if you've worked there before if you're not living there now. So hopefully that helps."
Torres currently works at an educational institution which is another challenge for her.
"A lot of public institutions are also in hiring freezes and there are more public than private schools in southern California," she explained.
What Torres has been doing is dead on. What many people have to realize is that although you may be doing all the right things, there are many other things that are pushing up against your amazing efforts. Right now, unemployed workers who are experts in their field are willing to work for much less than before and a lot of times, that is out of the job seekers' control.
"Right now, the companies are in charge," said Bruns "and the labor is on sale."
So what can one learn from this situation and what can you do to ensure the best you gets out there?
1. Know your market. Do you want to stay where you are or do you want to move to another city? Like Torres, know how difficult it is to break into a market and stick to practicality.
2. Know your field. Are there hiring freezes? How challenging is it to get a job right now in what you want to do? Will you be paid your desired salary or will you have to settle for less?
3. Put time aside to work on finding work. Torres put aside 10-15 hours a week to fill out applications and network in her field. If anything, you should do that, too.
4. Network, network, network. Those who want a job in a specific field should already be on top of their game when knowing what the work will entail. It's all about who you know, too. Job recommendations can come from inside your network, whether it's telling you to apply for a position or giving their thumbs up to another employer in your name.
5. Don't lie. Anywhere. Don't lie on your resume, in your cover letter or in an interview. If they find out, said Bruns, they're going to wonder what else you've been lying about.
6. Do your research. What is the job looking for? What will you have to do to fill the position? What kind of company or organization are you thinking of working for? Know what you want to find what you want. The last thing you want to do is be miserable at a job you hate.
Christina E. Rodriguez researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for Empleos.