As if being unemployed isn’t tough enough, there’s more bad news for those who have found themselves out of work. It’s taking longer than ever to find new job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people in management, professional and related occupations who had lost their jobs in March of last year were unemployed for a median of 19.6 weeks, nearly 5 months. That’s longer than in previous economics downturns.
Even though a number of indicators show that the econony began improving in mid 2009, employers are continuing to be cautious and slow to add workers.
For job seekers, this means they need to be especially resourceful and creative in their search for employment, says Maria Pippidis, a University of Delaware Cooperative Extension educator for family and consumer science.
“It’s not enough to send your resume to online career boards that might receive thousands of applications for a single position,” says Pippidis. “You need to do a targeted job search and utilize every tool available, including newpaper and online ads, job fairs, headhunters and personal contacts.”
If you have been out of work for a while, here are some recommendations from Pippidis on how to refocus your job search:
- Personal Contacts are Paramount. Some studies show that about 60 percent of all jobs are found by networking. Network with everyone — people who work in your field, neighbors and friends and those you know from social, civic and religious organizations. Don’t ask for a job – unless you know the person is actively hiring. Do ask for information about how to proceed with your job hunt or improve your resume, and referrals to others who might be able to help.
- Treat Job Hunting Like a Job. Make your job search the first priority of every weekday. Expect to spend 15 to 20 hours a week looking for work.
- Give Your Resume a Makeover. Make sure your resume reflects current terminology for your field and includes all necessary key words. Ask a colleague in your field for constructive criticism. Also, ask an English teacher or other wordsmith to check for spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes you may not have noticed before.
- Give Yourself a Makeover. No, Pippidis isn’t suggesting cosmetic surgery or expensive beauty products. But you do need to make sure that your interview suit fits well, that your shoes are polished and that your hair is well groomed. Go to a local beauty school for budget prices on hair cuts, perms and color treatments.
- Consider Freelancing, Temp and Contract Jobs. All of these short-term employment solutions provide income but they offer additional benefits, including expanded opportunities to network. Some temporary jobs lead to permanent employment. A short-term job also gets you out of the house, with other people, and thus can help to keep your spirits up at a stressful time in life.
For more tips on job-hunting, ways to save money and stretching your dollars, sign up for Two Cent Tips for Delaware, a free monthly email newsletter from University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Send an email to [TwoCentsTip@udel.edu] with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.