Career and Job Search Tips and Information

Currently the unemployment rate in the U.S. is dismal, as about 14 million people are unemployed. As recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), unemployment rates have gradually increased since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007, with 44 states recording a slight rise in unemployment rates this past quarter. According to the BLS, industries such as construction and manufacturing have experienced a gradual rise in unemployment in the past five years. There have also been significant hiring freezes at universities from across the country, from ivy-league schools like Harvard University to public institutions like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During this prolonged recession, here are some helpful steps you can take in order to improve your chances in securing a new or better job.

Concentrate on Growth Industries

Currently, specific industries are hurting more than others. This includes all construction and manufacturing jobs, and even white-collar occupations such as law and medicine. On the other hand, industries such as pharmaceutical research, nursing, and homeland security are thriving. Make intelligent choices in the industries you pursue and try to find “safer” fields, rather than pursuing work in weaker industries.

Network

Up to 40 percent of employers rely on and prioritize referrals and references when hiring new employees. Therefore, networking is key in securing a job you want. Make a list of acquaintances, friends and family who might be able to help you establish professional connections. Also touch base with all of your references and keep established relationships strong.

Volunteering

Due to the continuing recession, even professionals who have lost their jobs after being employed in their respective industries for years are taking up volunteer opportunities. Pro-bono internships and volunteering at organizations can help steer you towards new work directions and possibilities. You also gain important experiences and can include volunteer experiences on your resume.

Prepare for Interviews

The first impressions that are made during interviews are critically important. Be prepared to answer hypothetical questions and give detailed examples from past work experiences. You should also be able to clearly articulate any relevant skills, why you want to work for the company and why you are the best candidate for the position. Over-preparing for interviews is always better than under-preparing.

The Cold Call

Cold calls may seem awkward but you may also be surprised at the number of interviews eventually secured through them. Do not be discouraged if the company is not currently hiring. Instead, ask companies what skill sets and qualifications they are looking for in their employees and see if you can forward them your resume.

Social Media

Social media tools like Twitter and Facebook can be helpful networking instigators, as well as illuminate certain job opportunities. Twitter, for example, allows job seekers to take part in conversations with people who are in their industry. If you respect a particular company, follow it or its employees via Twitter, in order to get a better sense of the company’s culture.

Update Your Resume and Cover Letter

Update your resume and cover letter regularly. Although you should write individualized cover letters, you can keep general templates and change the content accordingly. What can stay the same are your opening and closing paragraphs, as well as your contact information. Keeping strong templates handy can allow you to more quickly send in your resume and cover letter when the opportunities arise.

Additional Resources

Here is a following list of additional and reliable resources for those who are currently in the midst of job searches. These resources include job boards and employment agencies.

  • Idealist.org: Idealist.org is an expansive and up-to-date joblisting board for those who are interested in pursuing work in the nonprofit world.
  • Mediabistro.com: Mediabistro is geared towards writers and editors looking for work, and includes a minute-by-minute updating of new jobs, local events concerning career growth in writing-related industries and online and on-campus courses you can pursue to improve and strengthen certain writing skills.
  • Craigslist.com: Craigslist is a popular website that includes an updated job listing in several fields.
  • Careerbuilder: This is another extensive job database, which also allows job searchers to post their resumes, have access to an updated job listing and other helpful resources.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a professional networking site that allows millions of registered members to view job and training opportunities. Universities, as seen in this example, often provide updated information on job opportunities made available through alumni.
  • Simplyhired: This is an online tool that allows users to search for jobs according to industry type, company, education and experience.
  • Monster.com: More than just a job listing database, Monster.com includes career tools that allow users to explore “career mapping” and “career benchmarking.”
  • ITPRC.com: This “techie” job database listing is specifically geared towards individuals trained and working in technology, including civil engineers, computer scientists and architects.
  • Vault: Vault is a sophisticated career database and online job tool. It includes descriptions of industries and professions, career advice and guides, a blog and listings of jobs and internships for users.
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is an arm of the United States Department of Labor, is a fact-finding agency that provides current statistics on a wide range of industries in the job market, as well as research on labor economics and processes. Its online website includes crucial updates on market and job projections for users.