Wednesday, September 16, 2009

As Economy Picks Up Steam, Employment May Still Lag; Job Seekers Need New Ways to Stand Out in An Ever-Crowded Market

/PRNewswire/ -- While the latest U.S. Labor Department reports layoffs are at their lowest level in a year -- and some experts herald that the recession is over -- the good news comes with warning: unemployment could still rise in the coming months, and recovery will most likely be slow. So what's a job seeker to do?

Andrew O'Connor, President of A.J. O'Connor Associates (AJO), offers the following advice:

Be focused. "Despite the headlines, many companies are hiring, and people are landing jobs," says O'Connor, whose Parsippany, New Jersey-based human resources consulting firm that helps job seekers find new direction. "What has changed is that hiring is a slower, more rigorous process, so candidates must be prepared for what could be an extended search." Today, it's not unusual for an employer to review 400-plus resumes, conduct 90 phone interviews and meet face-to-face with 25 prospects before hiring for one position," explains O'Connor.

Keep energized. "Finding a job comes down to staying encouraged, motivated, and focused," says Marie Tanzi, Director, Career Transition Services at AJO. Set achievable daily and weekly goals, and maintain a daily schedule. "In this market, you can't realistically say, 'I will land a job in two months,' but you can say, 'I will contact 10 new people each week.'"

Put your network -- including your social network -- to work. Many people are finding jobs through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other outlets. Let your network know you're in the job market and the type of position you are looking for. Also, many companies' recruiting efforts rely heavily on social networking. "With today's advanced technology, it's critical to be savvy in these areas and know how to utilize these kinds of networks to promote your skills," says Tracy Tyler, Managing Director, Human Capital Solutions, AJO. One caveat: Potential employers will check out your Facebook page. Never post anything online that could embarrass you later.

Learn to sell yourself. "Package yourself professionally, practice and polish your 'brand,' and tweak when necessary," says Tyler. Ask friends and former colleagues to critique your resume and presentation. Make sure everything about you -- from your interview clothes to the way you introduce yourself -- reflects the image you want to project to potential employers.

Invest in yourself. "Look at the transition time as a chance for exploration," says Tanzi. "Pursue a passion, develop a new skill set and look for interesting opportunities that may be on the periphery of your 'comfort zone.'" These new interests may enhance your life long after you find your perfect job.

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