Stories are told of job seekers who respond to countless online job postings with little or no response. Since the height of the economic downturn, many professionals have been unemployed for months — even years. As a result, many job seekers have become discouraged and have begun to lose faith in the American Dream — no matter their educational, economic or social status.
This is why it is so important for job seekers to diversify their approach to finding employment. Relying solely on online job boards as a method for finding work just might not cut it. Sites such as Careerbuilder.comand Monster.com are flooded daily with millions of candidates who respond to any and every posting with the hopes that just one employer will call them back. This heightens the competitiveness of an already challenging job market.
With that in mind, consider these alternative approaches to landing a job and redefining the future of your career:
Seek opportunities to work for small businesses. Most job seekers have the idea that big businesses and major corporations have the most jobs. As a result, they focus their energy on applying solely with large corporations, organizations and firms that are well-known for their experience and expertise in a particular industry. The truth is that the majority of layoffs during this recession have occurred in big business. Many corporations moved their labor force overseas and some just shut down components completely.
On the other hand, many small businesses have been able to thrive and continue to provide employment for millions of professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, small firms accounted for 65% (or 9.8 million) of the 15 million new jobs created between 1993 and 2009. Black-owned small businesses in particular are an underutilized resource for gaining employment. According to Thomas Boston, BLACK ENTERPRISE Board of Economists member and CEO of EuQuant, today’s small businesses are “in more diversified industries like construction, technology and health services.” This diversity provides greater opportunities for today’s job seeker. While working for a major corporation might be preferred by many, those who seek employment through small businesses find themselves in a less competitive market with significantly increased chances of getting hired.
Step away from the computer. The Web can be an effective tool for finding a job, but there is still something to be said for taking the “old-school” approach of job seeking. Regardless of what you may have heard, there is still value in putting your foot to the pavement and actively going out to pursue employment. Dress professionally with your resume in hand and take at least one day per week to visit employers. Walk right in and ask for their human resources department, hiring manager, or anyone who might be willing to receive your resume. If you do get someone face-to-face, be sure to articulate your career goals and your sincere interest in working with their organization. Even if there are no positions available at that time, managers always remember candidates who show initiative and professionalism. Besides, it’s much easier for employers to ignore an e-mail than it is to ignore someone standing right in front of them.
Try a different strategy or resource pool. Insanity is often defined as doing something the same way but expecting different results. This is probably why many job seekers feel like they are going insane. If what you’ve been doing has not been working for quite some time, maybe it’s not the tough job market that’s the problem. Maybe it’s you!
So, do something different. Consider having your resume and cover letter professionally revised or written. Look for new Websites to peruse such as those of trade organizations. Send out your resume and cover letter to companies even if they don’t have any positions available. Attend more networking and professional development events, such as the Black Enterprise Entrepreneur’s Conference & Expo and the Women of Power Summit, or attend a job fair (industry specific fairs are the best). The list of new ideas is really endless. Just do something different. Jobseekers become bored with their own methods, which usually diminishes the quality of their efforts. But if you switch up your routines and try something new, you may be surprised at the positive results.
Dare to widen your net and think outside the box! There are no limits to what your net might catch.
Aisha Taylor (@realTAYLORmade) is co-owner and chief consultant at TAYLORmade Professional Career Consulting, a Web-based, full-service career consulting company committed to “equipping, preparing, and empowering today’s professional” globally. Check out her weekly insights on job-seeking and interviewing success every week on BlackEnterprise.com.