Job hunting in a bear economy? Some different strategies for your success.

Finding and securing a new role that fits your career aspirations is hard. Job hunting when your local economy is in a bear market cycle is even harder.

There are a number of strategies you can execute to “create the market” in a proactive manner, and not be a victim of a market cycle, and all the sentiment that goes with it. Whilst I’m not discounting the value of the “traditional” way people job hunt – see an advertisement, apply, go through the process etc.; there are a number of other ways to better improve your chances of success in anymarket cycle.

Grab a drink, this is a longer than usual blog post!…

Here are a few different ideas, tips and advice that may help you next time you’re job hunting in a tough market.

Start with the basics, including the niche job boards:

I’ll assume you already have a job search plan, and doing most of the normal job hunting basics well. Sure, set up your alerts on the usual online job boards – Indeed, Seek, LinkedIn etc., but also look at some of the niche job boards run by industry groups and membership bodies (there are a number of them). Ones you may not have heard of are:

Get Social, Get Digital, but the right way:

If you’re a newbie to the “new world” of digital and social media, do your research first and understand some of the etiquette and how to do things properly. You have a personal brand that can get damaged just as easily in the online world as the offline one. Keep things friendly and professional. Remember you never know who knows someone, who knows someone…where that someone could just be your next employer. There is a raft of resources available on this topic. Will leave it to you to get searching and further reading.

Go Beyond LinkedIn:

Most people are aware of LinkedIn as part of their job search strategy. It’s a powerful business networking tool, but there are others nipping at its heels and have become quite effective for certain occupations. Look at Instagram and other tools that are growing in popularity for example. Use Instagram to have a more personal contact with a past work colleague, boss, peer etc. Build a sound relationship, and then when the time is appropriate, ask if they may be able to help you secure your new role.

Finally, check your inbox regularly. Surprisingly, we hear of job hunters not regularly checking their inbox (and spam/junk) box for inmails, notifications, updates and messages from recruiters or contacts in their network.

Pay, yes PAY money for someone to look at your CV / resume:

Most people tend to roll out the same ‘ol resume each time they are in the job market, generally with mixed success. If your resume does not clearly demonstrate that you are a 12/10 standout candidate, particularly in a bear market, you may find you’re not getting too many interviews. Don’t get frustrated and keep doing the same thing – take the time to work out why.

Times have changed, and the digital age is speeding this change along faster than ever before. Think about hiring an expert who knows how to write a good resume and cover letter for a few key jobs you are really keen on. It may just be the solution to help you get in the front door for that critical first interview –then of course, you’ll nail the rest of it!

Thought about using Video? Video is getting BIGGER by the month:

After a Google search, did you know video (searching, watching etc) is the second most popular activity on the internet? Some people have had great success incorporating video (60-90 seconds) as a cover/application letter to provide more insight into their background and expertise. Granted, it’s better suited to some industries and roles than others, but what a fantastic way for a hiring manager to meet the real you, where you can sell yourself better than words on a page in vibrant HD! It’s not hard and will clearly differentiate you from other candidates.

Keep friendly with HR:

If your employer is large enough to have an HR function, get to know the team and make a point of having formal or informal meetings / catch ups. HR often know about new roles as they are being created (promotions, restructures, mergers etc.) or may know of others in the market if you are being made redundant etc. They can also provide you with some fantastic insight on your career path and areas you may need to enhance further, or manage better for your future employment success. Remember, encourage any feedback as people rarely receive any during their career.

HR can be a fantastic resource for you, and are often overlooked in organisations.

Maintain your contacts list:

That might sound obvious, but this is an area some people get a little sheepish about. When the market is tough, the network of people your contacts know (ie. second and third degree connections) is critical to help you find those hidden,non-advertised roles.

Send an occasion email (bcc) each year (or more as you feel appropriate) to your contacts list. This will help you keep top of mind and build on your existing relationship. It will also help you keep track of where people are, and update any bounced email addresses etc., keeping your list clean and fresh. Then, when you need to send a well-written email to your contact list (bcc as people don’t like having their email address part of a public broadcast list), you will get a great response.

Remember to have an awesome subject line to grab their attention, and include a few paragraphs about what you’ve achieved, looking to do next and how you can help a future employer etc.

Make sure you’re in the right headspace:

If you are anxious about losing your job, been made redundant, or finding it hard to secure a new role for example, it can have an impact on you mentally. You are human, and it’s normal.

Before people can invest in you, you need to first invest in yourself.

Reflect on your state of mind and try to teach yourself to proactively and positively deal with change, particularly if you’re someone not good at dealing with change and the pressures that may come with it. It will impact your job hunting success. Try to avoid negativity at all costs and keep your communication neutral or positive.

If you think you may need professional help, in Australia there are several organisations that do a fantastic job helping people. Relationships Australia(http://www.relationships.org.au/) is one that may be a good start if you need help getting into the right headspace to find a new role in a tough market.

Network properly and ditch the out of the blue email or SMS to “Catch up for a coffee” with an old contact:

You should network extensively – always.

We all love coffee, but emailing or sending an SMS to people in your contacts out of the blue to “Catch up for a coffee” to discuss the market or whether they know of any job opportunities, is unlikely to help your cause. In Australia, some people perceive this as being lazy (phone calls are preferred), not being genuine (only ever hear from X when they want something), and it detracts from the quality of your personal brand. Try picking up the phone and leaving a voicemail if needed, call back in a few days if you have not heard back, and then send an email and/or SMS. This will greatly improve your probability of the contact proactively helping you with your job search in a bear market.

Finally, most people know the way a majority of active and passive candidates secure new employment is via networking. A 2015 survey of 2500 people by Adler Group provides some interesting points. One key data point for active candidates (i.e. those out of work or very keen to secure new employment) – is “networking beats applying directly for jobs” (Lou Adler, AdlerGroup)

(Image credit: Adler Group)

Make good use of any employment down time – Volunteer:

When your full time job is be finding yourself THE next job, invest some time in volunteering where you can. An investment in volunteering will also be investing in yourself in direct and indirect ways. There is a great deal of research supporting the positive benefits of volunteering. Especially for example, if you are in IT and manage to volunteer in an IT related capacity.

In Australia, Seek Volunteer (Volunteer.com.au), and Australian Volunteers (australianvolunteers.com) are some websites as a start.

Good Manners Rule – Always:

Without sounding like you are about to receive a lecture from your parents, you’ll be surprised how many people tend to forget about good manners when searching for work in a tough market. Their psychology is different for some reason.

Remember your manners – always.

If you attend an interview for example, but don’t get the job, certainly ask for feedback etc., but also politely ask to be considered for future opportunities, and consider sending a thank you email if appropriate. Plenty of candidates who were originally unsuccessful for a role, secure roles from the shortlists of other positions in organisations. Be that memorable, polite candidate with impeccable manners that gets the first call for the next vacancy. It costs you nothing to have great personal and business manners.

Be proactive and either become, or leverage your A-Player Employee status:

I’ve written and spoken extensively about either working to become, or leveraging your A-Player employee value. Markets have cycles, and if you plan properly and focus on having a career rather than a series of jobs, you will improve your chances of securing work in any market cycle. Imagine that!

Look at trend reports, read widely, learn new skills, get educated and certified, go to events, gain relevant experience etc. where you can during a boom cycle, so when the market changes, you are effectively the last person to ‘turn the lights off’.

Focus on having a career, rather than a series of jobs.

I could keep writing on this topic, but wanted to provide a brief mix of strategies, ideas, tips etc. you could immediately apply in your next job search.

If you would like more specific information about this blog or how to Recruit, Retain and Retrain A-Player employees in a risk-free manner, please feel free to get in touch.