Before sleeping last night, if you can call that fitful spate of restlessness sleep that is, I picked up something from the bedside to read. Okay, admittedly, this is not bed time reading but inside the pages of a September 10th 2011 issue of the Economist was a piece about leaders that stated “It is not impossible for politicians to reduce the West’s frighteningly high unemployment levels.”
While this is a U.S. focused piece, we in Canada are enduring much the same “joblessness wave” for all the same reasons cited. What next entered my mind as I finished reading the entire article was this: “If that is so, why aren’t politicians responding to this massive quest for jobs?”
As a jobless person in Western Canada, I have seen little to assist those seeking work and plenty to assist those who don’t really need to worry about working at all. The only thing I know for sure that we can do for ourselves is keep trying.
On a recent Job Skills course, I learned several factors that might actually help someone, somewhere:
1. Network, network, network. In other words, talk, talk, talk to everyone you know and even those you barely know or just met. Let everyone you speak to know that you are seeking work. When people ask me what kind of work I am seeking, I say I will consider anything so please let me know if you hear of anything.
2. Apply to places that are not even advertising and keep applying. I do this with local libraries who only keep me on file for 3-4 months. I just keep refreshing my information and re-applying. Apparently refreshing my applications with larger employers is not as effective as seeking employment in smaller organizations. So I am learning to look at companies employing only a half-dozen people. However, in my area, that usually equates to roofing or construction or something so distant from my capabilities that I would waste paper to apply at all.
3. Cold call on the telephone and in person. The worst aspect of this is rejection. Fear of rejection, that is. The strange thing is I was a high achiever in my 20′s when I did cold calling for a living until I burnt myself out as their best performer. But I wasn’t doing it for myself. The rejection of those reluctant (though, I have to say there were very few flat-out NO’s for me), to do a telephone marketing survey is far different from the rejection of YOU. It’s best when I do this exercise if I pretend I’m calling on behalf of someone else even though I am speaking in the first person when I ask to speak to the manager. Let the company know you are interested in working for them, say your name again before you hang up and show up there if at all possible within a few days of calling. My interpretation of this whole process of persistence is that the more we “humanize” ourselves (ie: give them a face, voice to attach to the name), the more our chances increase of being remembered should an opening suddenly occur for reasons no one could have anticipated. Sending resumes is okay but from what I learned on the job seeking course, it is ineffectual without what I call the “humanization” factor. Has it worked for me? Not yet.
4. Look for jobs in odd places. Most of the jobs out there aren’t even listed in the standard venues is what we learned on the job searching course (ie National Job Bank or newspapers). Visit individual company websites, do the yellow page crawl, go to your local library and ask what job seeking resources they have because my local library has several that are “off the beaten path” and I was unaware of these avenues of job searching until taking this course this year. Don’t use conventional methods of national job banks as your only resource. Millions of people are clicking there and applying. You are one of many who may simply be at the bottom of the heap when the recruiter gets through the first 500 applications and makes a decision to turf the rest. Well, it makes sense to me. If I were a recruiter being inundated with perfectly good candidates by the score, why would I peruse hundreds of applications when I find a dozen suitable people in the first few resumes. A friend told me there was a book store clerk job on a college campus last year and they had something like a couple of thousand applicants. Bearing in mind that many of those are likely students who are also attending the university, it was still a huge indicator of what we are up against in terms of applying for even rather menial positions right now.
5. Change your resume for every single position you apply for. Make it “meet” what they are seeking without directly insulting their intelligence by parroting their own language in the advertisement. At least your resume or application may stand a chance of being read. Following up with a phone call here is also a good practise. I just call and say something like, “My name is _______ and I recently applied for the position of ______. I’m very interested in this position and wanted to make sure you received my application.” This is the lead in that will either get me to the next person I need to speak to in order to “humanize” myself to them, or it results in learning they’ve made a decision and it wasn’t me. Either way, it’s better than waiting. I’ve done enough waiting for replies to my resumes and still doing so.
6. Numbers count. Well, in some way they don’t but here’s the number I’m talking about. Apparently for every 20 resumes we submit there is an average formula of achieving one (yes, 1) interview. Well, I submitted 35 resumes in one week and didn’t get any interview at all, nor any luck with follow ups but I did get automated replies that said either they’d received my resume or the position has been filled. Still, I keep plugging on, hoping that average will materialize.
Looking for work is very exhausting because you feel like you are running against the clock, the bank account and the big machine that tells you how badly the sky is falling on the news every day. So ignoring the news is something I try to do on a regular basis. I don’t have any magic formula or answers for anything out there, I’m just one person on a quest for a job I can’t find… yet… and I hope my sharing helps someone in some small way on their own quest.
As for me, I am seriously considering applying for student loans and going back to school. I just don’t know what else to do to survive and if I can learn something that might increase my chances of employment, why not. Of course, it translates to more debt but either way, if I don’t get a job soon, it all translates to more debt anyway.
Wishing you the best in your search for a job. It’s not a kind market out there but I’m just going to keep trying different methods and learning all I can because I sure don’t have anything to lose for trying and everything to lose if I stop.