Saturday, 1 May 2010

Handbook for determined job-seekers

Thanks to unemployment, newspapers and television are managing to recapture part of their lost audience. Pictures of forlorn job seekers alternate with interviews of puzzled white-collar workers who, until today, had never given a thought to the possibility of finding themselves on the street.

In some countries, the number of job seekers is reaching unheard-of proportions. Ireland and Spain, two of the worse cases, are on their way to a 20% unemployment rate. If disasters paralyse, absolute disasters can wipe out all capacity for action. Should you be searching for a job, here is some advice to help you move faster on the road back to employment:

1.- FORGET ABOUT DEPRESSING UNEMPLOYMENT STATISTICS. No matter how bad the business downturn is, there are jobs out there. All you need to do is to find yourself one. If you are flexible, organized, and relentless in your approach, you won't remain unemployed for long.

2.- UNDERSTAND THE REASONS. Mass unemployment is a phenomenon that results from major shifts in the economy. You, as an individual, are in no way to blame for circumstances that affect a great segment of the population. Do not take it personally and, above all, do not waste a minute complaining.

You cannot change factors that are causing the loss of thousands of jobs in certain locations or sectors of the economy, but you can move away from those and, instead, seek a job in areas where you stand much better chances.

3.- GO WHERE THE MONEY IS. If companies in the field where you have been working for the last ten years are going bankrupt one after the other, you'd certainly want to move to greener pastures. The same principle applies if you reside in an area whose economy is in shambles.

Even in a downturn, there are bad places and horrible places to look for a job. Don't waste your time trying to land a job in companies that are falling apart. You have better things to do than seeking to get aboard The Titanic, now and for the rest of your life.

4.- BE RELENTLESS IN YOUR SEARCH. Don't post your curriculum vitae on just two web sites, but on twenty. If that doesn't work, then try another twenty. Call up ten companies per day, ask to talk to their human resources manager, and pitch your skills. If that doesn't work, call another ten.

Looking for a job is a tedious chore, but if you have to do it, you might as well give it all you have. The faster you get it done, the sooner you can go back to normal life.

5.- MAKE OFFERS THAT ONLY A FOOL WOULD REFUSE. As a result of your active search, you will be invited for interviews. If you really want the job for which you are being interviewed, chances are that you will get it if you manage to convince the other party that you are reasonably competent and extraordinarily motivated.

A big company might be too bureaucratic to appreciate your willingness to go the extra mile, but a small-business owner will be delighted to hear your plan to lower his risk of hiring you. Here are some examples:
  • If the laws of your country allow it, offer to work for a token salary during a certain period, so that he can see how great you are.
  • If you are looking for a job in a 24/7 operation, propose to work on the shift that nobody wants.
  • If there is a location where nobody wants to go, volunteer to work there temporarily.
In some cases, this approach will bring no results, but sooner or later, an employer won't resist the temptation of accepting your offer. Use your flexibility to get your foot on the door. As soon as you have regained employment, you can go up from there.

If you have the drive and curiosity to be reading this, I have little doubt that you will do what you need to do. Focused thoughts and relentless action constitute the rational approach for finding a job, or in general, for achieving anything of value. May your job search be short and your success spectacular.


[Image by Stefano Mazzone under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]