Nobody is going to argue the fact that jobs are hard to come by these days. As of October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics put the country's unemployment rate at 7.3%. That's a lot of people out of work. What makes that number even scarier is knowing that it is only counting the number of people who are receiving unemployment benefits. There are even more people out there who have fallen off the unemployment rolls and have no way of being counted for these surveys.
While there is comfort to be gained by knowing that your unemployment isn't unique or even unusual these days, it's understandable that it still stresses you out. With almost 10% of the country's population looking for work, which makes the job market more competitive than ever. How are you supposed to stand out?
First Impressions Matter!
We're not talking about your interview. Why? Because you haven't gotten there yet. These days, the very first chance you have to make an impression is your resume and cover letter. Some people choose to go the video resume route. Depending on the position for which you're applying, that might be a good idea. Other times, the text based version is the best approach. Cater your resume and cover letter to your recipient. This is applicable for your resume's content as well as its format.
Remember, when you're writing your cover letter and resume:
- Get to the pointâ€”neither your resume nor your cover letter should be longer than one page.
- Don't get fancyâ€”unless you're applying for a design job, a simply formatted/list-based resume works best.
- Humor is best experienced in personâ€”keep it out of your cover letter and resume
- Spelling and grammar are important. Triple and quadruple proofread your resume and cover letter to make sure they are error free
Sometimes It Really Is Who You Know
Most people believe that staffing agencies and temp agencies are the same thing. They aren't. While a temp agency is great for short term employment to help you bridge a few gaps, a staffing agency specializes in placing people in long term positions. For example, Kelly Services is an agency that is renowned for helping qualified engineers find permanent engineering jobs (this company also helps human resource professionals and people in a variety of other fields). The Sporn Group places attorneys and paralegals in New York.
Join these organizations and ask these agencies to help you find your next job. It takes the pressure off of you (a little bit) and adds credibility to your application.
Giving Back Helps You Give to Yourself
Volunteering your time might seem counter-intuitive. Why would you commit yourself to something when you need to be free in case you find a job? Would it help if you knew that the number of employers who are looking for volunteering and community service experience is on the rise? In addition to being a boost to your resume, volunteering is a great for the following reasons:
- Volunteering for a non-profit in your field helps you meet other professionals who might be able to help you find the employment you seek.
- Volunteering gives you a purpose that doesn't involve hanging out on the couch, eating terrible food and playing video games.
- Volunteering is great for your self esteem. It feels good to give back!
- Volunteering truly helps your community and helping others is a great thing to do.
Be Ready, Be Willing
Unless you have huge reasons to stay in your current town or city, the ability and willingness to relocate will help set you apart from thousands of other applicants who probably aren't. Being willing to take on a long commute or odd hours is also a good way to help set yourself apart.
Have you managed to get out of the race for employment? What was your golden ticket to your new job?