Help! Why Can’t I Land a Job?

We are, unfortunately, in a slow growth economy, which has businesses – large and small – in a wait and see mode regarding expansion plans. The Labor Department reports that there are 4.6 unemployed (not even counting long-term unemployed now off the benefit rolls) for each job opening. That is an improvement from the depths of the recession of nearly 7 to 1, but not much solace for those facing an average of nearly 5 others competing for every open job.

What has exacerbated the situation is that businesses saw worker productivity rise by a phenomenal 6 percent at the end of 2009, after the all the bloodletting (layoffs) during the recession. Each remaining worker was able to produce more and now companies want to see solid signs of economic growth prior to re-employing workers – and these are almost non-existent in housing, consumer confidence, and yes, jobs! (It takes a job to buy goods and services.) The US is not yet even generating enough new jobs to cover the new entrants into the workforce each year – students graduating from colleges and high schools – let alone jobs for the unemployed.

Jobs Web sites are really just the electronic equivalent of “help wanted” ads of the past. Posting your resume on these sites is really a shotgun approach to finding employment, since companies have the luxury of only selecting candidates to interview who have the “exact” skill set they are looking for. If you don’t know the requirements of the position and customize your resume, by highlighting your near-perfect match to the job skills sought, it is a waste of your time.

The Internet is a great tool to find jobs in two ways: First, by giving you an easy and convenient way to stay connected to your network of friends, extended family, former co-workers, classmates, and industry colleagues. This is where you will have the greatest odds of finding jobs that mesh with your unique skill set and you may get someone in your extended network to walk your resume into the hiring manager. But the number one rule of networking is “give before you receive.” You cannot simply ask people for assistance finding a job until you have established a give and take relationship with them – by first offering to make introductions or other help they may need. Secondly, the Internet makes researching companies to find jobs in your field as easy as it has ever been. There is so much information available from company Web sites, press releases, competitors, and other public information that you can learn about what companies employ people with your skills, which ones are expanding and those likely to hire in the near future. Use your network connections in Web sites like LindedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to locate people who know people in these companies for an “in” for you. Use these same sites to connect with recruiters through recruitment Tweetchat sessions like #jobhuntchat, #tchat, and #hirefriday. You will be amazed at how many people are willing to help you get back into the workforce.

You may also be looking in the wrong places. In the past two decades, small businesses have created over two-thirds of all new jobs. Determine what transferable skills you have to offer to a small business and target some to make connections. It may be you will have to convince them it is time to expand and to bring you on as a contract worker to prove you can help grow their business – without the risk of hiring a full-time employee.

On this last point, find two or three temporary employment companies that specialize in your field or one closely related. There is no better way to get your foot in the door to determine if you blend in with the company’s culture and they offer what you desire in an employer. You will not get the salary you are looking for right away, but over one-third of these contingent positions end up becoming a full-time job. It also gives you the opportunity to keep your skills honed and a good story to relay in future job interviews about what you’ve been doing. A good temp company will help you broaden your search base by assisting you to identify your transferable skills and open new doors for you. In today’s job market, there is no negative sigma associated with temporary or contingent employment – and they will find you a job. Good luck in your search. We all hope for a stronger recovery to materialize shortly.