Losing your job is obviously a painful enough experience, but sometimes getting back out there and looking for a new one can be even worse. Somehow the fact that everyone else is losing their job too doesn't make you feel any better. In fact the crowded job hunting market is probably making a difficult time even worse. There's no sure fire way to get your resume to the top of the pile, but with an economy that moves in mysterious ways, the best thing you can do is keep the faith, and be patient.
"Many people are searching for a job these days," says Michael Erwin, Senior Career Adviser at CareerBuilder.com. "They need to remember that it is going to take more time than in the past and that there are industries who are hiring. Just be patient, you will find something."
Richard Nelson Bolles, author of the best-selling career series "What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009" echoes that advice. "It helps 'to keep the faith' if one remembers that at least 143 million people do still have jobs, and among them vacancies inevitably arise due to retirement, or sickness, or promotion, or moving, or what have you. The current chairman of the Fed studied this over a ten year period and discovered on average 1,250,000 vacancies developed in this way each month. So, there are jobs."
But once you've determined there is in fact a job to be had, dealing with the stress of rejection, or even worse, no response at all, can be another challenge altogether.
"In this environment, it is good to follow-up but not be too pushy," says Erwin. "If you are sending out resumes and getting no responses, you may want to look at your resume and see if there is anything you can do to improve it. You may also want to contact a recruiter or staffing agency to see if they can help you make a few connections."
Tailor you resume to the specific job as well, he adds. "When you find a job that is a good fit for you, make sure you are using similar language so an automated tracking system picks up your resume as a potential good match. Another great way to stand out from the group is to use actual quantifiable results in your resume. Don't just explain what you did, but how you did it and how it impacted the company bottom line."
One alternative is to skip the resume-based approach altogether, says Bolles. Making connections is the key. "'No response' usually means you're trying to approach employers by sending a piece of paper (a resume, whether electronic or by snail mail). This approach has a terrible track record. Instead, develop a network of everyone you know. Let them help you find the name of the person who has the power to hire you at a place that interests or fascinates you. Let them then find a mutual acquaintance to introduce you to that person at that place."
And keep in mind, that although it may seem counterintuitive, there can actually be advantages for the job seeker in a bad economy like this. "Employers are using the down economy to strengthen their workforce," says Erwin. "There are a lot of people currently looking for jobs and employers are replacing their low performers with more "A" players. Because of this, it is important that job seekers highlight quantifiable results in their resumes."
And when all else fails, just keep looking. "Every employer is a unique individual," says Bolles. "and each behaves differently from others. There are therefore some employers who are more understanding during this period, and some who aren't. Keep going until you find the ones who are."