Why Are Jobs So Slow to Come Back?

unemploymentAOL Jobs Guest Writer

It's easy to understand how the world got into the economic mess it's currently recovering from. To speak in glittering generalities, far too many of us made the following four mistakes:

  1. spent too much,
  2. borrowed too much,
  3. saved too little,
  4. took too much risk, with our mortgages and investments.

And when all this came crashing down, we had a recession. A doozy of a recession. It wasn't just individual consumers who did this; nations did it, as well.

Currently, large portions of the world are suffering from a gigantic economic hangover -- and as we sober up, one by one we are recognizing the need to reform our ways. So, in the year 2011 there are new priorities, designed to reverse the above four mistakes. They are, of course:

  1. spending less
  2. borrowing less
  3. saving more
  4. avoiding unmanageable risk, as much as possible

Individuals are reforming their ways. So are nations, though to a lesser extent. Still, Britain, France, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Lithuania, and Greece, among others, are facing up to a new degree of austerity. Here too, of course.

The major debate is not whether or not we need to have more austerity and personal sacrifice in the future; the major question is when? Now, immediately? Or after we are safely out of recession and back in a healthy economic situation?

It all filters down

OK, but what does all of this have to do with jobs? Well, coming out of this recession a lot of us are in the same quandary as governments and nations: we do not have the money we used to have. More to the point, even when our fortunes start to revive, we have new priorities for that money. Before we spend it in the way we used to, we are first going to use it to:

  1. pare down our debt, especially on our credit cards
  2. set aside more savings, so we have a cushion for the future
  3. and live more simply

There is, consequently, less money left over for our old-style spending, before the recession. So in the face of decreased demand from consumers, companies have had to downsize, or even go under, and millions of us have lost our jobs -- not to mention our homes, our early retirement, and our dreams.

The job picture therefore is currently dreadful. Decreased demand leads to decreased hiring. Still, there are jobs out there, no matter how much the media love to pile on doom and gloom. See the Job Training and Labor Turnover report (JOLT) each month. During a typical month this year (let's take August), 4.1 million people found jobs that month, and there were 3.2 million vacancies still unfilled at the end of the month.

There are always jobs out there. Surely not enough for the 17 million who want work in the United States. That's a vexing, continuing, societal problem -- and political dynamite.

Improve your own chances

But millions of people are finding work each month; so the basic question is: Why shouldn't you be among them? The answer: It depends on luck, location, accident, and -- those dreaded words -- hard work, on your part.

In other words, finding the jobs that are out there requires advanced job-hunting skills. Most of us have job-hunting skills, but they are comparatively elementary -- good enough for us to find jobs during easy times (write a good resume, go on the Internet, learn how to conduct a decent interview) but sadly inadequate to find those jobs that are out there, during a post-recession period such as this.

What does a recession (and its aftermath) mean to us, individually, except that with fewer vacancies than normal, and more people competing for them, we should hear it as a clarion call to each of us to improve our job-hunting skills, above all else?

In a bit of self-serving comment, let me point out that my book -- updated annually -- has sold 10 million copies for a reason; and it is precisely because it tells people how to improve their job-hunting skills. With my book or without it, that needs to be your first order of business -- if you are out of work, and more especially if you've been out of work for quite some time now. Marshall Goldsmith's book also applies to job-hunting in these sobering times: 'What Got You Here, Won't Get You There.' Elementary job-hunting skills now must be upgraded to advanced job-hunting skills. It's a matter of survival.

The skills you'll need

What are advanced job-hunting skills? Well, that involvesabandoning the old way you did your job-hunt in the past, and familiarizing yourself with all the research about what methods are the best use of your time, and which are the worst, in the year 2011.

Advanced job-hunting skills have eight characteristics:

  1. Putting in the time, and doing the hard work that is required: treating your job-hunt as a full-time job, in and of itself.
  2. Getting down beneath job-titles (which limit your search) and thinking of yourself instead in terms of the seven parts of any job; then searching for those parts.
  3. Using up to four job-hunting methods (out of the 16 different methods available) instead of just one.
  4. Knowing how employers look for employees, when they decide to hire someone.
  5. Approaching them through other means than a resume.
  6. Realizing that Google is your new resume. It involves learning to employ LinkedIn, and other Internet tools, but only once you have a vision of what you are seeking.
  7. Searching for the best job you can think of, so that you will have the drive, the determination, and the energy to keep on going until you find it, or at least something close to it.
  8. Getting into a group with other job-hunters so that you have continuing moral, emotional, and spiritual support, during your lonely hunt.

Some things in life lie beyond your control. So, work on the things that are within your control. Even though jobs are slow to come back, there are jobs out there even now, and month by month. They belong to job-hunters with advanced job-hunting skills. So, upgrade your job-hunting skills.

Next:Interview with Career Guru Dick Bolles

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