Have you been looking for a job longer than you'd care to say? Well, maybe it's time you changed up your game plan. Here are some tips to help you form a new career strategy.
By Rich Hein
If you’ve been out of work and searching for a job for what feels like forever, it can be easy to fall into a rut. The only way out is to work your way through it.
Those who can adapt and grow will always have a better chance of getting hired. Easy to say, but what does that mean on day-to-day basis?
If you’re like many job searchers out there, you’re getting tired and feel like you’ve tried everything. You’ve filled out countless employment applications and written many cover letters while not getting many callbacks.
According to BLS stats, the median amount of time people are unemployed is 21.4 weeks or more than five months. And while it’s easy to throw your hands in the air and give up, now is the time to regroup, reevaluate and persevere.
If you feel like you’re at the end of your job search rope, here are some tips from industry professionals that can help you revive and breathe new life into your search.
Step Back and Reevaluate
Step 1, says Doug Schade, principal consultant with WinterWyman, is to step back and reevaluate. “What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results,” quotes Schade. If you aren’t getting any call backs maybe you aren’t applying for the right positions.
When Schade works with clients he asks them how they go about their search and many times he finds that they are too focused on one position. “It’s time to reevaluate. Are you applying to the right type of position and how else can you be going about your search?” asks Schade.
Simply submitting dozens of online applications won’t do when the IT market is so competitive. Identify companies you’d like to work for and go after them. Make an in-person appearance. Connect with people from those companies on social networking sites.
You have to be able to step back with some objectivity to truly evaluate your skills and the jobs you are going after. Then build a plan to sharpen the areas in which you are lacking. Take a class, volunteer your time or do contract work that will allow you to grow professionally while also shoring up any talent gaps.
Get Out and Interact
It’s difficult for people to get a feel for who you are when you are hidden behind a computer. Clubs and professional associations can be indispensable in your job search. Attending events like these get you out and learning. They also put you in a room with people who are interested in the same things you are and could potentially be hiring.
Pennell Locey is vice president of Keystone Associates, a career-management and transition services consulting firm. Locey recommends giving yourself a jolt by putting yourself outside your comfort zone. “Buddy up with another job searcher, go to an event from an organization you might not normally attend or call someone whose ideas have interested you and schedule a conversation that might take you in a new direction.”
Tighten Up Your Resume
If you’ve been staying active, chances are you’ve added some skills to your toolbox. Add those new skills from any side projects or groups to your resume and online profiles. Make sure that your resume reflects the keywords that recruiters and employers are searching for.
Develop Your Online Brand
Take this opportunity to sharpen your personal brand. Make sure that your brand is geared towards the positions you are applying for. This can include LinkedIn pages, Facebook’s BranchOut or personal websites.
Get Back In Touch With Your Network
Good old-fashioned networking is the next step. If it’s been a few months since you reached out to your online and offline network, it’s time to follow-up.
Let them know about any updates to your professional development, newskillsets, or any seminars or classes you’ve attended. “Let them know how your search is going. We as recruiters yearn for feedback as well. If we have an opportunity to learn something new about a prospective candidate, that’s always good,” says Schade.
In her recent article, J.T. O’Donnell recommends relaunching your job search using a technique known as disruptive innovation. In order to use this technique you have to know what your strengths are and then market yourself to those strengths. Here are the basic points of the disruptive innovation approach:
Identify a problem or procedure within your niche that you are proficient at solving. It has to be something that an employer will appreciate and value.
Next, create a list of companies that deal with this problem and then reach out to people who work for these companies through social media, email or phone. The goal is to learn how the company is currently dealing with this problem. With any luck they are having a tough time.
Finally, find a way to stay in touch and let them know that you are available if they need a person to fill this need.
This technique is simply a change in perspective and, according to O’Donnell, “takes us from acting desperate to acting responsible. Moreover, it not only makes us feel better, it sends a more effective message, too.”
Consider Contract Work
If you’ve have experience in IT, chances are you could be contracting out your skills while you’re searching for a full-time job. In fact, more IT workers than ever are going the independent contractor route by choice.
Use LinkedIn, Indeed.com or any of the job boards and see if there is any contract work in your area. There are also recruiters like WinterWyman, Randstad Technologies, Modis and a host of others looking for experienced IT workers to fill contracts.
Keep Moving Forward
When you’ve been out of work for a while everything feels daunting. You need to change your approach, but changing the way we do things doesn’t come naturally to many of us. The U.S. Marine Corps has an unofficial motto that is applicable to your job search and perhaps other areas of life as well: “Improvise, adapt and overcome.” If your current job search isn’t working, don’t be afraid to mix it up and try something different.
Rich Hein is a senior writer for CIO.com. He covers IT careers. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, on Facebook, and on Google +.