When people ask me how to get a job in a bad economy, my answer isn’t particularly earth shattering: Do everything you did in a good economy — have a terrific resume, cast a wide net in your search, network effectively — just do it all smarter, faster, better and more often
In addition to working harder on the basics, today’s job seekers should also try a few new and different techniques to stand out. To help, I’ve compiled a list of not-the-usual job hunting suggestions. You may like some of these and hate some of these, and that’s the point. My goal here is to provide out-of-the-box actions and tactics that most job seekers may not have tried. Here goes…
1. Move your desk. Feeling stuck in your job hunt? Ken Lauher advises checking under your desk to make sure nothing is blocking your feet or leg room. Look up, too. Heavy books shelved over your desk can lead to stress and frustration. The physical space in which you job hunt can make a difference in your results.
2. Learn to talk about sports. According to a recent story in Newsweek, a networking expert in Boston has started leading seminars that teach non-sports fans how to talk about football. Why? “The ability to carry on an interesting nonbusiness conversation will always be a vital skill,” the article explains. Could you get your next job by knowing the difference between a field goal and a fumble? Maybe. Professional networking happens on the golf course all the time, so why not on the sidelines of a football game or at a Super Bowl party?
3. Tweet. While Twitter, the micro-blogging site (in which each 140-character message is called a “tweet”), seems frivolous to some, to others it has led to job offers and much more. As Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers writes, Twitter is a particularly good tool for “touching base with people beyond your immediate circle whose networks and contacts are much different from your own. With over 3 million users, Twitter offers an unparalleled opportunity to create an extended network.” (Bonus: Miriam’s post provides great tips for making the most of Twitter whether you’re job hunting or not — thanks for the referral to Twubble, Miriam!)
4. Remove your tattoo. “The number of people opting to have tattoos removed is at an all-time high,” reports Dr. Mitchell Chasin, Medical Director of Reflections Center for Skin & Body. The reason? According to a recent press release I received from Dr. Chasin, “Trendy ink statements can cross the line of personal expression into a potentially career-damaging decision.” In fact, 42 percent of managers reponding to a Vault.com/CareerBuilder.com study said their opinion of someone would be lowered by that person’s visible body art. If you’re seeking a job in most professional work environments, your tatt may hold you back.
5. Download the LinkedIn “Jobs Insider” tool. This free, downloadable application (which I first learned about from Alison Doyle’s About.com site) allows you to link the jobs you look at on major career sites (Monster, SimplyHired, Craigslist, etc.) with your network connections on LinkedIn. You’ll immediately see how you’re connected through your personal network to the places you want to work. Knowing someone at a hiring company is the best way to get your resume out of the slush pile, so this tool could be your ticket.
6. Add green collar jobs to your search. A recent report from the American Solar Energy Society shows that as many as 1 out of 4 workers in the U.S. will be working in the renewable energy or energy efficiency industries by 2030. This growing sector (one of the few bright spots in the economy right now) includes positions in engineering, manufacturing, construction, accounting, management, marketing, administrative support and more. Consider searching for open positions on a green job board, such as TreeHugger.com, GreenJobs.com and SustainableBusiness.com.
7. Volunteer. If you’re out of work, you probably have some extra time on your hands. Instead of using this time to worry about when you’ll land a job, use this time to help other people. Especially during the holiday season, volunteer opportunities are everywhere. Volunteering has many tangible benefits for job seekers: 1) it will keep you in a positive, active frame of mind, 2) you’ll meet new people who may be able to refer you to job opportunities and 3) you may come across paid job opportunities at an organization where you’re volunteering.
8. Finish your fluency. Over Thanksgiving, my 26-year-old sister-in-law Valerie was chatting with me about the ongoing layoffs on Wall Street. She mentioned that one of her friends was able to keep his investment banking job even though most of his colleagues had been laid off. What made him different? Language skills. This guy kept his job because he was fluent in a second language. In a global economy, being bilingual can mean the difference between a paycheck and a pink slip.
9. Build your personal brand. According to personal branding guru Dan Schawbel, “personal branding describes the process by which you stand out from a crowd of job seekers by differentiating yourself from others with the same skills and abilities.” It includes developing personal “marketing materials” (your resume, a website or career-related blog, a work portfolio, business cards, etc.), having a professional online presence, practicing the way you introduce yourself and more. Click here to read a helpful article by Dan that discusses personal branding specifically for job hunting college students.
10. Send holiday greetings. What I really mean by “send holiday greetings” is “use the holiday season as an excuse to reach out to every single person you know or even sort-of know.” It doesn’t matter if you send cards, postcards, e-cards, emails, Facebook messages, paper airplanes or smoke signals — just reach out to as many people as you can and chat with them about your job search and what kind of positions you’re seeking. The more people you reach out to, the more people will have you top-of-mind if they hear about an opportunity. Always remember, networking (especially networking to find a job) is not just about who you know; it’s about who knows you.
11. Join the “Getting from College to Career” fan page on Facebook. This is the place where I post every opportunity I learn about: full-time job listings, internship listings, freelance gigs, event announcements, podcast downloads, discount offers, new job websites — anything and everything that relates to young professionals and their careers. Join here to make sure you know about every opportunity I know about — and invite your friends to join, too!
Image from: ImagineeringEzine.com