Tips to get ahead in a slow job market

October 16, 2008 7:05:08 AM PDT
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says nine and a half million Americans are out of work. An economy on the decline means more layoffs as more firms begin going out of business. Are you ready if it happens to your employer? Job search professionals say we should all have a plan no matter how secure the situation looks.

"I would say a year ago most people were calling about career advancement," said Jeff Toffoli, resume writer.

That was then, now, San Francisco's Jeff Toffoli says it's all about finding a new job. He helps people polish up their resumes.

"The biggest mistake people make on their resume, I would say, is approaching the resume as a list of responsibilities as opposed to an advertisement," said Toffoli.

An advertisement where the worker is the product and the employer is the prospective customer. Business is up for Toffoli. It's also up significantly at Linked-in - that's an online networking site where you can post a resume and businesses can post job listings. Linked-in says new sign-ups rose 25 percent from August to September, job searches rose 19 percent, and job applications rose 17 percent.

Joseph Pelayo runs the San Francisco executive search firm Joseph Michael Recruiting. He says in this economy job seekers have to think differently.

"I had woman coming to me looking for work as a CFO in mortgage industry and she said 'I'm a CFO and I'm looking for work in the mortgage industry.' I said 'no you're not' and she said 'well what do you mean,' I've worked in the mortgage industry all my life,' I said 'I don't care the mortgage industry isn't hiring,'" said Pelayo.

He recommends being open to new opportunities in new industries. Both men suggest keeping your resume up to date, using those networking contacts you've made over the years, and practice interviewing - so you're calm and cool during the real thing. And most of all: don't panic.

"We need to keep upbeat in a job seeker mode. You got to fake it, until you make it, pretend like everything is going great even though maybe it's not. That has to be your exterior persona in this job search market," said Pelayo.

"Looking for work is a sales job, kind of plain and simple, but it's unique in that you're selling yourself - so psychologically that is going to be different than any other sell you're doing," said Toffoli.

Joseph Pelayo says people who get severance pay when they lose their jobs usually go through two job searches - a half-hearted one while they still have money in the bank, and a serious one when the money starts to run out. He recommends you start with that second, more urgent job hunt.


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