After the economic downturn in 2010 and 2011, the unemployment rate in the United States fell from over 9 percent to less than 6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, plenty of people still experience lay-offs, RIFs, and other situations that lead to job loss. When you find yourself without a source of income, start your job search on a positive note with these eight essential steps.
1. Set a Schedule
Approach job hunting with the same organization you bring to your work.
Job searchers often start strong, then slack off after a few months of disappointing results. According to the Bloomberg View, the average time spent on job searching drops by 30 minutes per day after 12 weeks.
Create daily goals for yourself that might include scouring job advertisements, sending out resumes, or networking with associates. Vary your activities from day to day so the search doesn't become monotonous, but keep a set schedule to maintain your momentum.
2. Revise Your Resume
Update employment dates, job descriptions, and other details on your resume to ensure it inspires a favorable impression. Use action words whenever possible to demonstrate your work ethic and your experience.
However, resist the urge to exaggerate on your resume. Forbes reports that 40 percent of human resource professionals have increased their fact-checking efforts to weed out candidates who stretch the truth.
3. Request a Reference
Send your former employer an email to ask about references. You don't want a boilerplate reference letter from your old boss, but inquire about future requests.
Simply state that you might want to provide his or her contact information to a prospective employer. Ask how he or she would prefer to handle it. For example, some bosses would rather field phone calls, while others would prefer to type up a reference letter.
4. Practice Your Poise
If you've enjoyed the same job for the last 10 years, brush up on your interview skills. Ask a trusted friend or family member to play the part of the interviewer for a mock meeting.
Practice maintaining eye contact, asking intuitive questions, and responding eloquently to difficult questions. Role playing not only improves your communication skills, but it also reduces your anxiety about the real thing.
5. Approach Your Acquaintances
Mine your network of past colleagues, superiors, and associates. Reach out via email, phone call, or text to ask them about their lives or to invite them to connect with you via social media.
Your existing contacts offer a wealth of opportunities. Employers never advertise between 70 and 80 percent of available jobs, according to NPR, so you might receive a referral to a position you never would have known existed.
6. Investigate the Industry
Don't rely on existing knowledge to fuel your job search. Instead, research the industries in which you hope to work to learn about improvements, advancements, and changes. Use this knowledge to impress potential employers with your expertise.
7. Broadcast Your Brand
Just like major corporations, job seekers need to brand themselves. Find your unique selling proposition, then make it known through correspondence with potential employers. What do you bring to the table that makes you more attractive than the next resume-wielding job hunter?
8. Secure the Right Supplies
Always print your resume on high-quality paper if you deliver it in person. You might want a day planner or notebook in which to organize the details of your job search or an app for your phone that alerts you to scheduled meetings and interviews.
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