By Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs
Fuel prices are up. Food prices, too. And don't forget foreclosures. The US is still at war and unemployment is still high. It's the real-life equivalent of "Lions and tigers and bears!" But, oh my, does a job seeker really have to think the worst is yet to come -- if it isn't already here?
Don't focus too much on the bad news. There's plenty of good news -- and good jobs -- out there.
John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, points out, "There's no reason to start panicking. Jobs are opening up all the time." And while the economy is a bit sluggish as of late, Challenger says, "You can't think of the job market as too monolithic. A number of industries out there are doing very well currently. Healthcare, energy, international business, agriculture and commodities are thriving."
Whatever the economic climate, you can use these four strategies to maximize your opportunities:
Rely on Research
Challenger recommends that job seekers do their due diligence. "What's going on in the economy? What's going on in my market? Where are the companies that are hiring? Research all this [on the various financial Web sites] and see who's doing well in the market and position your next job search around companies that are in growth mode right now."
However, even if an organization's numbers are down, he reminds professionals, "Don't give up on a company that's doing poorly. Troubled companies need good people to solve their problems."
Janet White, founder of Jobmarketsecrets.com, says workers should stop reading the headlines. "Don't buy it," she says. If you begin your job search with the wrong mindset, it may not go right.
"Avoid falling into the mindset that it's tough out there, there's a lot of competition and not enough opportunity for you," White says. "Imagine yourself being in the job you want. Hold the vision of having it -- go back to daydreaming about it. Whatever you believe to be true becomes your experience. You can believe that it's hard or you can believe that you can have the job of your dreams."
Don't Blame the Economy Alone
Are you flying blind or do you have a solid job-search strategy? HR executive and career coach Susan D. Strayer says, "One of the things I always see when there is an economic downturn is that job seekers tend to be lazy in their searches and blame it on the economy. People are sending out hundreds of untargeted resumes -- whether it's a bad economy or a good economy. That's not a good strategy."
Strayer counsels her clients, "You have to focus on your search strategies. And conversations are the biggest piece of that. You need to find advocates within a company." Start reaching out to your network to find these folks and talk to them. She says insiders can not only help you tailor your resume and approach, they can also give you "a real state of the union -- letting you know which divisions are and aren't doing well and which vacant positions are on hold."
While she, like Challenger, believes there are certain industries you can't be optimistic about, she reminds job seekers, "You should always be optimistic about your search."
Market Yourself (in Any Market)
Experts remind job seekers that although we are seeing high unemployment and the economy is still weak, there will always be jobs available for those who are determined to find the right fit. But it's important to remember that looking for a job is all about marketing yourself.
The best strategy for positioning yourself as the most attractive candidate starts with a tight resume. Also, there are jobs lurking around every corner, but you won't find them unless you network.
Finally, make full use of the array of tools available online to enhance your efforts. Resume and interview tips, online search agents, and job recommendation services are just a few of the features that can help you find work fast.