Do you think it’s too hard to get a job in this economy? Are you holding out for your dream job? Think again. The economy isn’t great, but there are plenty of ways to get a good job if you are willing to change your perspective.
How so? Career coach and speaker, Ford Myers, president of Career Potential, has helped hundreds. He wrote the book “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring”, and here are a few of his suggestions:
1. Change Your Thought Process
Don’t assume things will be different six months from now. Learn how to adapt. “You’d be amazed at the number of people who say, 'I’m just waiting until it goes back to the way it was,'” Myers says. “Those days are gone, FOREVER. Let go of nostalgia and resentment; stop holding onto the world before this great recession.” Adds Myers, “In the old world, people thought of themselves as soldiers of being the good employee. They thought, 'If I keep my nose clean and just show up everyday I’ll have a job.' That world is over. In today’s world everyone thinks of themselves as self-employed; you are the president of you incorporated.”
2. Take Responsibility
Get in the driver’s seat. Don’t expect others -- from bosses to career counselors -- to make decisions for you. “It takes a lot self-motivation and taking control,” Myers says. “You need to learn a lot more about career management. You can’t think anyone is going to handle it for you. If you aren’t getting the results you want it’s only one person’s fault -- that’s the person staring back at you in mirror.”
3. Seek Help and Support
There's plenty of free and inexpensive help out there, if you look for it. Myers cites My Career Transitions and Joseph’s People as free groups that help job seekers. There are hundreds around the country under different names and associations. Look at government and municipal agencies and religious, support, meet-up groups, associations and organizations. Look at an alumni placement office, LinkedIn, and ExecutNet. Tap into these networks and take advantage of them. Scour blogs, career portals and newsletters. BlueSteps.com, 6figurejobs.com and BlogTalkRadio are some of Myers’ favorites.
Networking is the single biggest strategy in this economy. In the old days, Myers said he’d recommend that clients network 75 percent of their time; now he’s upped it to 95 percent. “People need to distinguish themselves and make a person like you and want to work with you,” Myers says. “You do that through personal relationships.” So turn the volume up on networking to make it more powerful and purposeful. “When you are looking for a job, networking isn’t part of your job, networking is your job,” Myers says.
5. Re-Educate and Re-Brand
This is a good time to take a college course, workshop or have a friend help you. Take a technology-based class or something industry-specific that will make you more current and employable. Brand and position yourself as an expert by making yourself visible. Promote yourself by giving a talk, writing a blog, volunteering, or helping in an industry-based association. “Personal branding is corny and overused,” Myers says. “But people need to stand out.”
6. Act with Speed and Urgency
“What happened to being proactive? Showing up early and leaving late? Turn around projects quickly and efficiently. People need to be identified as go-to person, instead of this air of entitlement and laziness. Act with more speed and urgency to demonstrate you will get the work and do it efficiently and do it well."
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7. Be Flexible and Adaptable
Many people turn down job offers because it’s not their perfect job. Or they say, “I’m not going take a step backwards,” Myers says. “I look at these people like they are nuts. I’m not telling them to go get a job flipping burgers if they’ve been an executive. But be a little more flexible or shift industries. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take step forward.”
8. Update Your Career Portfolio
Make sure you update, improve and enhance your resume and career portfolio. Add new tools, certifications and experiences to give your portfolio strength, breadth and variety. If you are sending out the same resume and getting the same tired results, maybe it’s because you’re not building a full portfolio -- you can’t rely on a resume anymore, says Myers.
9. Re-Think Your Personal Image
Have you worn the same glasses since 1982? Do you sport a mullet or a beehive? Are you wearing shoulder pads that haven’t been in style for decades? Make sure you have a polished professional look. Take a hard look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Am I looking my best?" Do I look up-to-date with my makeup, hands, posture and smile or do I look like I stepped out of a time warp? Dress the appropriate part for the job you want. “People get turned down for jobs all the time because they look wrong,” Myers says. “Rightly or wrongly, people make first impressions. We live in a visual culture.”
10. Learn How to Talk About Accomplishments
If a potential employer says on a job interview, “I’m looking for someone who can reorganize the department.” Don’t just say, “Yeah, I can do that.” Share a story about an experience you have that will relay tangible, specific, measurable results.
11. Check the Attitude at the Door
“Employers can smell the cynicism and negativity a mile away,” Myers says. People need to be very conscious of this. Be positive, hopeful and optimistic. Going on a job interview is a lot like dating, give someone a taste of who you are to peak their interest.
12. Consider Alternative Avenues of Employment
Substitute teach, volunteer or do pro bono work. Take a part-time job or a consulting or contract position. Why? “It’s a foot in the door,” Myers says. “It allows the employer to try before they buy, because employers don’t want to take a risk and are deathly afraid of making a mistake. They are looking for people who are little more flexible.” Try work for friends and family. Do odd jobs. “It keeps your mind sharper than sitting at home doing nothing,” Myers says. “You have to be more resourceful and have multiple ways of working and making a living.”
Dawn Reiss is a Chicago-based journalist who has written for a variety of outlets including: TIME magazine, Chicago Tribune and Travel + Leisure.