How To Effectively Compete In A Tough Job Market

Getting In Gear For Career Success

[this prospect]. He’s only been out there for three months. We won’t look at person number two because he’s been on the market 18 months.’”

If you’ve been laid off, know that getting back into the marketplace is going to require more strategies, more resources, and more effort than you may have thought. And according to the experts, if you’re qualified and talented and have been unemployed for more than 12 months, you just haven’t worked at it hard enough. Here are some tips to get back in the game:

Rethink your networking strategy. “Networking in and of itself is not happenstance,” says Watson. “Folks need to have a plan.” The highlight of a networking event should not be the open bar. “[Too often,] there’s no process given to who is going to be there, what is the background to the people on the board, have they published articles,” mentions Hall. “How great is it to walk up to somebody at a networking event who you have an interest in [and say], ‘I loved the piece you just had in the San Antonio Express.’”

Mason offers another suggestion: “If there is someone who you need to meet, call [someone from] your Rolodex and say, ‘Who in XYZ industry do you know? I would love for you to somehow arrange a lunch for the three of us to go.’ [It's] a phenomenal technique that has really worked to expand my network.”

Focus on function. Titles and tenure mean less today than they did 10 years ago, suggests Mason. “There seems to be less emphasis on time spent on the job versus accomplishments in the job. [You want] to give a sense of the kinds of problems that you handle, because those problems oftentimes are generic across other industries and other companies.” Showing your effectiveness in those areas makes you more valuable to a prospective employer.

“You have to reposition how you look at the skills in your résumé,” adds Hall. “What are the arrows in your quiver? I have leadership; I have marketing; I’ve got management. If you look at your résumé that way, that goes a lot of different places.”

Be prepared. Just as the job market has changed, expect changes in the interview process, which, according to Mason, is designed to find reasons to eliminate candidates.

“Smart people know what they are going to be asked in an interview. … You should have your answers drawn up, they should be scripted, they should be tight, you should have tested them with friends and family and other people that can provide you with candid feedback, and when you sit down, you should be ready,” Watson says.

That means being focused and concise. Don’t try to present your résumé to every question, advises Hall. “Nobody has four minutes per question to hear you go on and on about how great you are. If you understand what they are looking for and you are asked a question, you ought to be able to answer that question in 90 seconds

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