The economy ebbs and flows. Good times come and go. Shit happens.
The last 18 months there has been a lot of attention focused on the loss of jobs in the United States and around the world. I understand. I feel it. I was laid off in April 2009.
It was not the first time I was laid off. Sadly, I have seen four other companies close their local offices or go out of business entirely over the last 20 years. Bummer? Sure! But that is just part of the game when you work in for entrepreneurial ventures (although some of those jobs were with Fortune 100 / established companies, so you are never safe!).
Although I now work for myself (and enjoy it), I have been in situations where I have needed to find work. It is not fun. It is stressful. It can be lonely.
For me, my safety net has always been other people. I discovered early that having a network of personal and professional contacts is the fastest path from unemployment to a new job.
The best way to build a network is start long before you need it. You must invest time and effort to establish meaningful relationships with other people. You cannot just show up with your hand out when you are in need and expect people to jump into action to help you. People are busy, and they are often not willing to use their connections and vouch for strangers.
If you are one of those folks who have made up every excuse in the book to not network, it is not too late. However, to succeed you have to stop rationalizing the reasons why you do not work to connect with people: "I'm too busy", "I'm an introvert", "I don't know what to say to people when I meet them", "I don't have the right education", "I think people who network are pushy", "I have to get home early", "I am not a morning person", etc.... (I have heard dozens of excuses... all of them are lame).
If you are looking for a job (or even if you are working and want to make a move), here are three things can do to find a job fast:
1. Treat looking for a job as a full time job. Turn off the TV and don't go to the gym. If you were working you would be at work from 8 AM to 6 PM (most people work more than 9 - 5), so while you are unemployed, you must be working on your job search ten hours a day. Do not do your grocery shopping during the day or any other activities that you would not do if you were working somewhere.
I am amazed when I read articles about people who have been out of work in the recession who say they have given up, or spend their days writing a novel. No wonder they do not have a job. While not everyone will find a job quickly, 100% of those who do not seek employment will remain unemployed. Jobs do not fall from trees.
Create a "To Do" list and an agenda for your daily routine. Only put things on your calendar that will directly or indirectly lead you toward a job. Manicure? NOPE.
2. Network like your life depends on it. All opportunities come from people, therefore you need to put yourself around those in your industry. If nobody knows you exist, they cannot tell you about jobs and other interesting information that could benefit you in your job search. While a focus on those you already know is the most productive (have you had coffee or lunch with every former boss, co-worker, client, vendor and friend you have ever known in your professional career? If not, why not?), meeting new people is also key.
Attend industry groups, Chamber of Commerce meetings and any other gathering you can find where the right types of people will be present. While these can be expensive (so you will have to choose wisely which events you attend), many organizations seek volunteers to help with the set up, check in, etc... Find out if they need help, and they might waive the registration fee. Either way, get out and network.
3. Do talk too much about yourself and your job search. Nobody wants to hear how rough it is out there. If all you do is lament about being unemployed, you will develop a reputation as "that sad unemployed person". You will have more success if you ask the other person questions and get them talking about their life: "How long have you lived in town?", "Why do you attend this networking group?", "What's new and exciting in your career", etc....
People care more about themselves than they do about you (especially when they first meet you), so get them talking about THEM. Eventually most people will realize they have dominated the conversation and ask you questions.
When it is your turn to speak, present a positive spin on your situation. Nobody wants to recommend "Debbie Downer" for a job. Tell them about your "full time job of looking for a job", and how it is teaching you the REAL meaning of hard work! That is more impressive than telling them about how you have caught every episode of "Days of Our Lives" or that you never miss "OPRAH!".
I know it can be difficult (I have been there), but don't give up. Realize that if you create a plan and work hard at your job search you will feel better about yourself than if you give up. Your attitude will be an important factor in getting the next job.
Have A Great Day.
Extra Tip ... READ BOOKS. If you are not reading non-fiction daily, you should start. Carve out 30 minutes every day before you start your "job search activities" to read something that will educate and motivate you. If you are not a regular reader, start with small books. There are thousands of business and motivation books that are under 200 pages. All of my books are designed as "quick reads". I hate books that are like reading a "text book", so I wont write books that are stale and hard to get through.
CLICK HERE for a full list of my books available on Amazon.com