By Hannah Morgan
Are you eager to ditch your current employer? The time seems right, with the U.S. creating more jobs than it has in recent years.
If you haven't looked for a new job in awhile, you will need to brush up on some skills and learn some insight from job seekers who fought the battle during the Great Recession. As much as looking for a new job is painful, it has become a new reality. Learn how to overcome the pain, loneliness and frustration associated with job searching.
1. Job stability is dead. Long live career stability. The rug may be pulled out from under you, but if you have cutting-edge skills, a strong network and a resilient outlook, you'll have career stability. You'll have more than a dozen different jobs during your career, so learn how to stay up to date, keep your head out of the sand and embrace change.
2. Defend against looking like damaged goods. Get help with your job search sooner rather than later. As crazy as it seems anyone would think this, given the number of people who become unemployed due to no fault of their own, there is still a stigma associated with being unemployed.
Even if you are employed and looking, you should know that job searching has become more competitive, and you want to make sure you are using up-to-date and effective job search tactics – not the ones you used years ago. The faster you can successfully land interviews, the better.
3. Self promotion is an ugly necessity. You don't like bragging – few people do. But the art and science of promoting yourself determines your success in landing a new job.
There is more competition today, and it's up to you to convince the employer you are the most desirable candidate. This doesn't end once you land the job, either. Managers are always being asked to do more with less, and you don't want to end up without a job just because you didn't feel like you should have to share your accomplishments. A good manager should know, right? But the facts are the facts, and when tough decisions need to be made, good managers only know what they've been told.
4. Keep your ears, eyes and mind open. You never know where your next opportunity will come from or what it will be. In fact, your next job may not look or sound like a match initially.
Learn about every opportunity you're presented with or stumble across. Read between the lines of the job posting, if there is one. Research the company, leadership and employees, and learn all about the customers, products and services.
It sounds like a lot to do, but you never know what you'll learn. Organizations have varying job titles, structures and cultures. It is difficult to know if you'll be a fit unless you do the research.
5. Stay positive and motivated. This mantra is easy to say and difficult to do. Staying motivated is one of the most common issues for job seekers. The job search process comes with rejection, or worse, indifference. When conducted in isolation, it can be extremely lonely, especially for those used to working on a team.
It is your attitude that will ultimately convince your future manager to hire you. Build a support system, and stay positive.
6. Don't get weeded out. Get referred in. Applying to jobs through job boards is so alluring. You simply send your résumé electronically, and you're hired, right? Wrong. Applications flood the company's system, and recruiters quickly sift through the keyword selected candidates. Your odds of being chosen for a pre-screening phone conversation are slim.
Instead of posting and praying, turn to a friend. Ask someone inside the company to refer you, and see how your application rises to the top of the "must-call" pile.
Before you begin to celebrate the upswing in the economy, please remember long-term unemployment isn't gone – it's just hiding. Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO at Gallup, recently wrote on a Gallup.com: "Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed."
These people have fallen off the U.S. Department of Labor's reporting and are falling out of society. These nameless, faceless, uncounted job seekers may be your neighbor, uncle or past co-worker. Many may be living on the brink of homelessness. They are embarrassed and in hiding.
Let's not forget to count the uncounted and help give them a voice and a chance.
Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored "Social Networking for Business Success," and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.