How To Find A Job In A Recession

I was laid off during a job seekers market.  I wasn’t supposed to have a long job search, but I did.  Being in a job seeker’s market meant nothing to me at the time, except perhaps that I was a loser because I couldn’t land quickly.  Only a loser has a long job search in a job seeker’s market, right?

Things have changed, and the market is flooded with professionals in a job search.  If you are in a job search right now, you have seen your “competition,” other job seekers, flood this space in the lsat few months.  If you are a finance professional, I’m guessing you are looking at a change in profession or industry.  All those finance classes for nothing!

Can jobs be found during a recession?  Sure!  Of course!  I don’t know how to find a job in a recession – I couldn’t even find a job in a boom-economy!  But I’m guessing there are some components to having a successful job search in this economy.

  1. Get introduced. Sounds better than writing “network!”  Wouldn’t it be better if an insider could bring you in, and introduce you to a hiring manager?  There’s only one way to get to that insider, and that’s through networking.  That insider may be 3 degrees away from you… so you better start growing your network, and asking “who do you know that…”  Go ahead and use a job search tracking spreadsheet.  I’ll use something more long-term.  Read Thom Singer’s How to Recession Proof Your Company for some similar thoughts.
  2. Be creative. Get a copy of Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters and read it.  Perhaps some of the ideas in there don’t work for you, but figure out what will work for you – even if it’s not in the book.  I try and think of creative things EVERY DAY to move my company forward, to get JibberJobber in front of more people.  You need to think of (and do) creative things EVERY DAY to stick out, and be more memorable than your competition.
  3. Volunteer. A lot.  Volunteer at more than one place.  Take on real duties… get on committees, and make a name for yourself.  You’ll feel better about contributing to the world, you’ll keep your skills sharp (and maybe learn additional skills), you’ll meet knew people and develop new relationships, and you’ll showcase your capabilities.  Oh yeah, and you’ll help people who need it.
  4. Be patient. If I was supposed to be in a six month job search during a boom economy, how long is your job search supposed to be?  You can get anxious and stressed about it, or you can strategize how you’ll spend the time.  Yes, it’s stressful, perhaps the most stressful thing you’ll ever do (long term unemployment).  But stressing isn’t going to solve anything. Figure out how you are going to mentally deal with this temporary phase.
  5. Help others in their job search. Again, helping others will help you feel some self-worth.  Once you’ve done this stuff for a month or two you are a seasoned veteran, and you can help those deer-in-the-headlights job seekers more than you think.  Take them under your wing, take them out to lunch, take them to network meetings, and share ideas with them that you had to learn the hard way.  Some won’t be ready to hear it, but some will look at you as a guru.  And when they get up-to-speed on their networking, you’ll have someone who is networking for you, which is very powerful.
  6. Be thankful. Go buy thank you cards and stamps, and send out hand-written thank you cards.  This is a lost art, and those who do it become memorable. It sounds so easy, even cliche, but if you send out hand-written thank you cards you will stand out.
  7. Consider changing your profession or industry. Just because you have years (and years and years) of school behind you doesn’t mean you have to stay in the career path you started with.  There’s a huge world of opportunity out there, but it might be on a path you never considered.  Think about a change.
  8. Take a step job. A step job is the job you take while you are still working towards your next career job.  It might pay less, or have a smaller title, or even be embarrassing (delivering pizza to your neighbors?), but it puts food on the table and gets you out of the house.

If you are looking for a short job search, and you just want to get it over with, go find a fast food joint and change your lifestyle.  I don’t recommend that, but you’ll start getting a paycheck in a few weeks.  If you are like me, and that’s not the career path I’m looking for, then get serious about being CEO of Me, Inc.

What ideas do YOU have to find a job in a recession?

This post is sponsored by Megan Fitzgerald, of Career by Choice. Megan is a personal branding strategist who works with expatriates interested in building a career or business to support their life abroad.  She currently resides in Italy, but has lived, worked or played in over 25 countries.  If you are considering working overseas, you should contact Megan. She blogs at the Career by Choice blog.

18 thoughts on “How To Find A Job In A Recession”

  1. I would like to add that the rest of us who are fortunate (still employed or employed once again) need to extend and hand and be helpful. We can help build networks, pass on job search tips and posting leads, serve as sounding boards, etc. Whether you look at it as networking for your own future, passing the torch, or just plain right to help others, there’s nothing but good reasons to do it.

  2. Great post, Jason. I would add a critical first step before embarking on these activities … Uncover and articulate your personal brand. In other words, determine what you ideally want to do next, how to leverage your strengths, who you most enjoy working with and what you offer that will be of value to them, and how you are differentiated from your competition. When people take the time to do this internal and external brand assessment, their searches will be faster because 1) all their activities will be focused on the goal 2) they will be able to answer the interview questions, “Why are you interested in working for us and how are you qualified?” and 3) their networking contacts can be helpful because they will have a clear understanding of your brand (even if it is aspirational). How do you uncover your personal brand for career and job search success? Read Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand (full disclosure: I’m the coauthor) or retain a Reach-Certified Personal Branding Strategist who specializes in working with people like you.

  3. I’d like to build on what Sophie noted above.

    In years past, I made an effort to keep in contact with friends who lost their jobs – checking in on them regularly, offering support and jobhunting suggestions.

    Now that I’m the one who was laid off, that good karma has come back to me as those friends are the only ones who REALLY understand what it’s like and who check in often.

    You never know!

  4. Great post, Jason! My husband spent 9 months looking for a job when the job market/economy were taking a downturn as his job was offshored. It was an extremely stressful time and I can only empathize with those looking right now when the country is in such a financial crisis. I have read Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters and really think very highly of the book. You have to find out what differentiates yourself, too, through a personal branding process as Kirsten Dixson posted. I plan to link your post in my blog. Thanks for such a timely post!

  5. Figure out where to look for job postings! A lot of people consider their work done if they spend a few hours on Monster but that’s not a very good selection of the jobs that are out there. Find smaller job postings sites, like Craigslist or JobFox, that have job postings from more companies.

  6. This is a great post and great advice. Unfortunately, many people are finding themselves out of work in one of the worst markets (except for maybe the Great Depression). You are right, helping others in their job search does make you feel good as well as giving you some ideas in the process.

    There is another good post on a related topic which is worth a read –

  7. Great post , Another item you could add is be willing to accept a job that does not pay as good as a past job or that is below the rank that you are used to working, try getting into other work areas if you work in marketing and can’t find a job in marketing don’t turn away from a job unrelated to your studies and experiences in a recession what you need to worry about it getting through it in one piece.

  8. Great post. Many of us are seeking solutions to finding work when there’s less work available than ever.

    Another great book that I recommend is “Knock ‘em Dead 2009: The Ultimate Job Search Guide” by Martin Yate. I think this is the most realistic guide to what it takes, how to go about it, market realities, etc.

  9. Patient? Creative? Thankful? It’s interesting that virtues play such a huge role in finding a job, but they do.

    Regarding the creative part for a moment, why not think outside the box of looking to work for another in the first place? I know, I know, but stay with me for a moment.

    It’s amazing that there are plenty of skill sets that are for whatever reason not “conventional” enough to be taught in schools, but the mastery of which would lead to more autonomy.

    Most of us are trained to be employees- nothing wrong with that, but thinking that way can be a kind of tunnel vision that keeps many from learning skills that would allow them to carve out their own path to income and contribution.

    One of them is as close as the computer in front of you. No really, for the first time in history, we are 3 feet in front of the world, yet few learn how to use it in a way to render 1) value to others and 2)income for themselves.

    There ARE ways to learn this stuff, if you can avoid all the junk and find good and reputable sources. I’ve worked/played from home since March of 1996 and while it has it’s challenges, I wouldn’t trade the flexibility and time-freedom for even a great 9 to 5.

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