New Year, New Job Search Strategy

17 Jan

It’s almost a new year and, for those who are unemployed, it may be a time for new job-hunting strategies. I’ve consulted with South Florida’s job market experts to avoid the mistakes of yester-year and get off to a running start in 2010.

Get back to basics

If you haven’t been getting interviews, it may be time to again review your resume, cover letters and approach. Seek help from a job-search or career transition expert.

“There are jobs out there. You have to make you’re sure presenting yourself in best possible way. Tweak your resume, writing it for the job you want, not the jobs you’ve done,” says Mason Jackson, chief executive of Workforce One.

“A common problem is they send resumes electronically and the program may scramble the resume when viewed at the other end. You have to send to somebody you know and see if it arrives,” he says.

Job applicants also often fail to follow the rules. “If the employer says ‘I don’t want to be contacted, please apply online,’ then apply online. Don’t send them your resume,” Jackson says.

Adjust your attitude

Job seekers often are stuck in the old paradigm that “I’m embarrassed to be out of work,” says Thomas Shea, CEO of the 30-year-old South Florida outplacement firm, Right Management. Don’t be: Workers stay in jobs an average of only four years today.

Another mistake is “woe is me” talk. “Letting them know how badly you need a job that’s not going to make companies hire you,” he says.

Shea recommends job candidates do a self-assessment of their strengths and then target six employers they admire and where they would be a good fit.

Consider yourself a free agent

“Shaquille O’Neal has no problem saying, ’I’m a free agent,’” Shea points out. So take the attitude of “you’re going to work for yourself and you’re going to lease yourself to a company,” he says.

That means, as an employee of your own company, that you need to keep investing in yourself, updating your skills and building on your strengths. Two or three superior skills are a better asset when job searching than a broad-base of average skills, Shea says.

Develop your personal brand

Keep going to professional organizations and industry conventions _ even if it means paying a fee. “We don’t spend enough money in branding ourselves,” he says.

By continually developing your brand, you will be able to offer solutions to employers looking for specific skills. “The only reason you’re going to get hired is if you’re perceived as being a solution to an employer’s problem,” Shea says.
Target your job search

Instead of sending out resumes to every employer, target six companies that you admire and where you think you will fit in the culture. Unless finances become a pressing concern, an unemployed worker should aim for a job at a company where they want to work and where they have potential to advance, Shea says.

Find a connection

Use your creativity to connect with the organization, Shea says. Think about how you could get connected to the organization: Who do you know there? Who use to work there?

Find blogs about the organization to pick up information. “If you can make a friend with someone on the insider, it’s much easier. Then you have a mentor,” Shea says.

Lori Welch, laid off in July after 21 years with the same employer, found an industry contact on, the professional networking site. He referred her to Fort Lauderdale-based AlphaStaff after receiving an e-mail from one of his contacts there. Welch was recently hired.

“It had been 10 to 12 years since I saw him,” said Welch, who recently started her new job as a human resources manager for the staffing firm.

Tell the employer how much you want to work for them.

“Some job hunters are afraid to tell people that ’I’d love to work here,’” Shea says. “When you get turned down, ask to be kept in mind if anything else comes up. Check back in three or four months. Companies love to hire people who truly want to work there.”

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