According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate for January 2013 was 7.9% and has been at or near that level since September 2012. Whether you are a recent graduate or have been laid off from a job you held for years, getting a job in this economy is a real challenge. Just like any challenge, it will take time and effort to solve the problem. Here are some steps to help you get on the path to employment.
After losing your job, you should create a personal budget. It’s key to know what you have, and how much money you will need to stay afloat throughout the job search process. Although you may not need to prepare anything as detailed as financial statements, you do need to know where you stand financially and budget accordingly. A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that more than a quarter (26.7 percent) of successful job searches lasted 6 months or longer, with about half of those taking more than a year, so your money may need to last. One helpful tip is that you can write off the expenses you incur during the search on your tax return. This includes travel expenses, parking, resume printing, etc.
Make sure your resume is up to date and relevant to the job you want. When outlining your skills and experience, use keywords related to the type of job for which you’re applying. You’ll usually find them in the job description. Hiring managers will often run a batch of resumes through a keyword search program that seeks out certain skills, so make sure that yours contains what they’re looking for. It’s also important to tailor your resume and cover letter to each job when you apply. Have a colleague or friend critique your resume. There are professional resume editing services available, but they’ll cost you anywhere from $40 to $150. It can be worth the price if you need the help.
Use websites like monster.com and careerbuilder.com. They have broad job-searching capabilities and they offer a number of resources and tips on resume writing and interviewing skills. Another helpful website is careeronestop.org, a government website offering advice and resources for job seekers. Don’t strictly stick to these sites though. If there are some particular companies that interest you, go directly to their websites and check for available positions. There are plenty of opportunities that don’t get posted on the more popular job sites.
Use your professional network to propel you into the job market and seek out opportunities. Don’t be shy about letting people know that you’re unemployed. Roughly 40% of job seekers found their current position through someone they know. You can also create a profile on professional networking websites like linkedin.com. It’s a great way to see and be seen in the job market and in your respective industry. Also, if you don’t belong to one already, look for professional organizations to join. They offer many resources and networking opportunities.
If you’re financially stable enough, now may be a good time to go back to school to pick up some new skills and expand your appeal in the job market. Many colleges and community centers offer adult/continuing education in various fields of study. Maybe there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time. If you see available jobs that are beyond your skill set, look into getting those skills. Visit local college and community center websites to find more information on available programs. Be very careful when deciding to go back to school. Analyze whether or not it will actually pay off in the long run and make sure you have a plan for how you will pay for it. An alternative is to check out websites such as OpenCulture and Coursera, which offer free online courses from top universities ranging in topics from philosophy to computer science to media studies. This is a great way to freshen up on skills or even learn the basics of a new language at no cost.
These are just a few helpful tips for those entering the job market. It’s important to treat your job search as if it’s your current job. Create a schedule and goals for each day. Finding a job is hard work, especially in today’s competitive environment. Take care of yourself physically and emotionally, as a lengthy job-search can be stressful. A lot of people are out there, so do your best to stand out in the crowd.