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"It was so exciting to finally get the job offer and to know that our life is going to get back to the way it was," said Au.
However, getting that job wasn't easy. Au was unemployed for five months. During that time, he applied for nearly 600 jobs online; received about 60 to 75 calls back from employers; and had 17 face-to-face interviews with companies before he was offered a job.
"It is difficult and it is hard. And, there were some dark times there," said Au. "There was a point there when we had $6 in our checking account," said Au.
It's a sign that finding a job these days is going to be tough, but not impossible. Career Counselor Serena Santillanes says the trick is to utilize your resources. Web sites like /*monster.com*/, /*LinkedIn*/ and even /*Facebook*/ are great ways to network and get the ball rolling.
"Identify the people in the field that you are interested in and start connecting with them on those Web sites," said Santillanes. "Networking is hugely important in any kind of job search process."
Career counselors say you should be diligent but realistic about your job search. For every ten resumes you send out, expect to only get about only one to two calls from an employer. Counselors also say to expect to be applying for about a month for every $10,000 you would like to make in salary.
Other important tasks are creating a job search schedule and being able to list at least 10 skills you posses in an interview. However, Au says a good suit is what helped him. Although, he says, it's not his best.
"I said, 'Maybe I'm being too overly impressive.' And, instead of showing that I have had the success, what I want to show the employer is that I'm willing to work," said Au.
That strategy may not work for everyone. But, Au says it's just one of the many things he did to get back in the work force.
Tips for Job Searching After Lay Off And Beyond
Get high tech
Using the Internet can be a great place to network. Online services such as LinkedIn.com or Facebook.com are the two most commonly used sites for professional networking. Use these sites to identify professionals whom you can contact for information interviews or networking meetings. It is very important to remember that anyone can access your profile through these sites. Therefore, you never know who might be looking at your page -- it could be a recruiter, an acquaintance, a company who has been referred to you from a friend, etc. Always keep your profile up-to-date and professional. Both sites offer free basic membership which should be enough to get you going.
Use multiple methods for job searching
Don't just rely on one method or strategy for job search. Your job search is like a "tree" with many "branches." Extend out to as many resources and people as possible. Try multiple methods including: job boards off the Internet, recruiters (as appropriate), local career centers, community job boards or job fairs, targeting your own companies/organizations of interest, professional societies, alumni career centers, referrals from friends and family, and the list goes on.
Most professions have organizations you can become affiliated with in an effort to share job information, learn new trends in a field, get information if you are transitioning to a new profession, etc. A couple of examples are SHRM is the Society for Human Resources Management, or, APLD is the Association of Professional Landscape Design. Professional organizations are an excellent venue to network, job search and receive information about your profession. They can also be a great resource for the hidden job market. It also looks good on a resume to join a professional society showing initiative and desire to be on the cutting edge of a profession. Seek out professional organizations easily by doing an Internet search. For example to find professional societies in Human Resources type in "professional organization for Human Resources" and you should start to uncover the information you need.
Money equals time
It can be easy to get frustrated and impatient during a job search. A few weeks of hunting, can feel like an eternity. Do remember that the typical rule is that for every $10,000 you want, it takes one month of job search time. Typically the more you want, the longer it takes – though actual job search time varies depending on the person, skills and marketability. Keeping this in perspective, can help you think about your own financial situation and job search plans. To benchmark your salary requirements by occupation and region, check out www.salary.com.
Create a schedule
Finding a full-time job can be a full-time job. Just like any full-time job, lack of balance leads to burn out. When job searching, create a schedule for yourself to include all activities such as: review of available openings, resume writing, interview practice, networking opportunities, breaks, etc. Also, think about ending your day at a set time, like you would at any job so that you can take a break and rejuvenate for the next day's activities. You don't want to burn out before you find the next job.
Get support from others
If you know of others who are unemployed or in career transition, create a career support group. Meet up at a local coffee shop weekly to share goals, resources and keep each other on task. All it takes are two or more people to keep yourself motivated and connected while you search! If you need help finding a local job search support group check out www.job-hunt.org.
When conducting a job search in any economic state, a key tip to remember is to not just apply for jobs, but to market you. This means using an effective job search strategy and creating a cover letter and resume that makes your skills and qualifications stand out. Remember, you are selling your services to how you would be an asset. Simply responding to the "want ads" is not enough. You must clearly provide examples in your cover letter and resume of why you are the best candidate. Put yourself in the seat of the employer and think about what you would want to read and hear from an applicant. Treat each application to a job as the one you really want. KEY TIP: Remember the following acronym -- WIIFM (What's In It For Me) because this is what the employer will be thinking when they read your resume and interview you!
Stay employable while employed
It seems that many people are worried about the economy, which is a trend that comes and goes every few years. Rather than worrying about whether or not you can find a job, or if the job market is stable, which we can't change, instead spend time thinking of yourself as your own company. Whether you work for a company or are self-employed, it is important to continually develop and stay career resilient as "security" in the work force lies with you and your skills sets, not a "stable company" or "stable market."
Here are some tips for staying career resilient:
- Be able to describe the value you bring to an employer or customer.
- During an interview, be sure you could list at least 10 skills that you possess.
- Have clear career goals and a good idea of where you are heading at any given time.
- Identify three important accomplishments from your current/last job.
- Upgrade your skills and computer knowledge in a significant way each year.
- Explore trends in your field/industry and identify various changes that are occurring (Internet searching within your field is an easy first step to doing this).
- Seek opportunities to take on new responsibilities at work.
- Seek opportunities to work with others or contribute to work teams.
- Be sure that the skills and abilities that you need to be employable are clear to you.
- Create a network of people in and outside your field that can help you in your career.
- Actively seek out better assignments in your current job.
- Regularly, try to identify the future direction of your field by making personal contacts, reading or attending professional meetings.
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