“How do I find a job when no one is hiring?”
First thing’s first: surrender the idea that no one is hiring, wrote author Chris Tidball in his book Kicked to the Curb. “The reality is that nobody is advertising, but there are jobs.” The consensus among experts like Tidball is the traditional job hunt of reading print want ads is long obsolete; also that the modern job hunt with its hundreds of industry job boards is downright baffling and labor intensive. But a few key ideas are rising to the top.
- Look for a business opportunity, not a job. Tidwell is himself a consultant, who saw his 20-year career fall victim to the banking crisis. He observes that jobs may have become scarce, but consulting and contract opportunities are on the uptick. This frees a company from, for example, the cost of health care—sorely missed—but discounted insurance is available through professional organizations, chambers of commerce and the like.
- Think volume. The typical job hunter will respond to two or three advertisements a day and consider it hard work. An aggressive job hunter must be prepared to make a hundred contacts in a week—not just responding to ads, but phoning a wish-list of companies to inquire about opportunities, plumbing LinkedIn and Facebook contacts and so forth. This is what author Bill Barnett on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network calls “massive outreach…the only reliable path to Victory.”
- Broaden your network. Barnett, who taught career strategies at Yale University, observes that the surest way to failure is to limit contacts to people with whom you are well acquainted. LinkedIn groups are excellent sources of contacts; also good ways to get in touch with college alumni, fraternity brothers, or sorority sisters. Professional organizations and chambers of commerce are two more sources that are largely ignored.
- Use that broader network, aggressively. Now that you have that broader network, use it, shamelessly. Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success, observed that “If I am interviewing someone who was referred and endorsed by someone I have respect for, the interview is very different than the one who came from an online posting and a resume…The latter person really never had a chance.” A job hunter cannot be timid or polite about tapping new or casual acquaintances.
- Check your “Google Hygiene.” A hiring manager may fail to check your references, but will certainly “Google” you. LinkedIn and Facebook profiles both turn up in searches. Is your Facebook avatar a puppy, a baby, a picture of you looking plastered at a Mardi Gras celebration? Change it. Do you engage in hostile debates in LinkedIn groups? Delete the posts. What about blog posts? In one instance, a young woman was fired before she was hired, for complaining on her blog that she was taking a “soul-sucking job” to pay the bills.
- Learn. View any contact as a learning opportunity, if not a job opportunity. A danger of being out of an industry is losing touch with it and appearing uninformed in the interview. A new contact can key you in to industry trends, but also, which companies are hiring, which are downsizing, who is retiring and needs replacement, what skills are in demand.
Finally, alter your approach if after a while, your hunt has yielded no results. “View this as conducting a study,” wrote Barnett. Likely there is some pattern (perhaps lack of follow through) that is behind non-success; or perhaps unrealistic expectations. Are you reaching beyond your qualifications? With qualified people out of work in practically every field, you may have to rely upon that for which you are undeniably qualified. You may wish to leave teaching, or banking, or manufacturing, but now may not be the time.
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