Looking for a job can be extremely stressful, especially if you've been trying for a long time with no success. With thousands of competing applicants on the job market, you might feel like the odds are stacked against you. Perhaps you need to tweak your approach to turn the tide in your favor, but remember -- you'll reap rewards only with consistent effort. There is no shortcut to searching for a job. You've got to put in the work.
Pretend You're Getting Paid
Until you start earning a regular paycheck, treat searching for employment like a full-time job. That means means getting up early, working late, and putting in extra time at night and on weekends. You’re your own boss now, so don’t let yourself down.
Gone are the days when you could snag a few promising job leads from circling ads in the newspaper. In today’s economy, you’ve got to check everywhere -- job sites, email alerts and social networks online, as well as bulletin boards in community centers, colleges, libraries, grocery stores and churches. Drive around and look for help wanted signs. Word of mouth is also effective; ask family, friends, mentors, old colleagues and former bosses for leads.
Be Ready for Anything
Preparation is the key to a successful job hunt, as you never know when you’ll meet a potential employer. Keep business cards with you at all times. If you’re an artist, carry samples of your work, or at least cards with links to your online portfolio. Also keep copies of your latest resume and best cover letter handy, and always dress act respectably -- even if you’re only running to the corner to get coffee.
Get Out of Town
With an influx of applicants seeking employment, employers are on the lookout for standout candidates. Consider taking a temporary job abroad -- perhaps teaching English or helping impoverished communities -- to gain experience and perspective that will be attractive to your next boss.
Never Stop Learning
Show employers that you’re dedicated to your craft. Never stop learning about innovations in your field. You don’t have to necessarily pay for expensive schooling or additional degrees as long as you’re armed with self-discipline, a library card and an Internet connection.
Check on Your Applications
When you do apply for jobs, don’t abandon your applications to disappear in the shuffle. Be your own advocate -- call and confirm whether your application was received by someone with hiring power. Speak to the hiring manager and ask, “Do you have any questions about my experience?” and then seize the chance to discuss your skills and career goals. If you apply to a store chain, call and promote your application to all the managers in your area -- not just the one at the store to which you applied.
Don’t go to your interview acting like you have the job already. Remain humble and willing to serve. Your focus should be on how much you’d like to help their business grow, not how much you want them to help your pockets grow.
Know about the companies to which you apply and interview. Research their history, business practices and mission statement, and know exactly what your role would be within the organization.
In the meantime between jobs, volunteer or get an internship in your field to gather valuable experience. Not only will you strengthen your resume, you stand to meet important contacts who can help propel you into a paying gig.
Earn Outside the Box
Its going to be difficult to get back and forth to interviews if your pockets are empty. To keep afloat, find a temp job or market your natural talents. Whether you bake and sell pies to your friends and family, vend handmade scarves at a craft fair or rake and shovel lawns, look for creative ways to earn a little money to tide you over until your dream job calls.