Amid last week's disappointing news reports of slowed hiring and people dropping out of the labor force altogether, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also released info in its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary (JOLTS) that indicates people are quitting their jobs and picking up work in a freelance capacity. This has been discussed in numerous other studies, including this recent one from Intuit that made headlines for claiming that by 2020, 40% of Americans will be freelancers. This report also pointed out 19 other demographic, economic, social, and technology trends to watch over the coming decade, including interesting comments on the reduced costs associated with starting a small business, how seniors are "unretired", and the rise of niche markets.
Real talk - if you've been unemployed for months and months and months, it's time to start looking outside of yourself for some guidance and some brutally honest insight as to why you cannot find a job. Here are 10 things you can actually do right now to start seeing some action.
1) Sometimes it's just a simple oversight - I can't even count how many times someone has complained to me about not getting calls for interviews only to find that their phone number on their resume is incorrect. Another killer: typos on your resume. Everyone believes they have thoroughly checked their resume for mistakes, but if you don't know the difference between "there" and "their" and "they're" - you're not going to know you're doing it wrong. Seek out the "obvious" flaws.
2) But it could also be the case that you're not up to date on the technological skills required to compete - taking a class or joining a group to improve your skillset can be key, and can also help build your own confidence.
3) Read. Even if you're not much of a reader. If you're really not into reading, get audiobooks. I recommend a few books here if you don't know where to start. Visit your local library or spend some time in your local bookstore.
4) Talking to family and friends often does not yield much of a result because a person's inner circle generally sees the best in you, and also can't understand why you're having such a hard time. The people who love you also just don't want to hurt you, and may hold back out of concern for your ego. Talk to someone objective - a single session with a career coach can go a long way and help jumpstart a stalled job search.
5) Clean yourself up. Do you know someone who doesn't seem to know that he has bad B.O. or disgustingly yellow teeth? Seriously - give yourself a mini-makeover. Change your habits, try new hygiene products (switch your deodorant, get some white strips!), invest in a new outfit (even if it's a new used outfit from a thrift store), iron all of your clothes even if you think you look fine. At the very least, you'll feel like you look polished and professional.
6) Switch up your resume - if you can't afford a professional resume writer, ask a friend for some help. Offer to cook your friend dinner or look over her resume in exchange.
7) Stay busy. I can't over-emphasize how important this is. Strategic volunteering can be your best friend. It can help fill gaps on your resume and expand your network.
8) Speaking of expanding your network - expand your network. Build your LinkedIn. Reach out to former coworkers and classmates. Conduct informational interviews.
9) Stay positive. I know it sounds cheesy (and almost impossible if you've been out of work for a long time), but nobody wants to hire Debbie Downer and nobody wants to hear about what a hard life you have. Employers hire people who they feel will contribute to the workplace - in terms of work ethic, skills and knowledge, AND attitude.
10) Consider changing your objective (and I don't mean the "objective" on your resume - I mean your actual objective). First, let's just say that your objective cannot simply be "to get a job". That's what every job seeker wants. Maybe it's time to reevaluate the types of jobs you're targeting. Are you shooting too high and applying for jobs that you're not qualified to do? Are you selling yourself short and applying for jobs you are way overqualified to do (more on this later)? Are you looking for a job in a dying industry? Sometimes you need to make a career change because jobs are changing.
A recent NY Times "Career Couch" article has some great advice on making the best of being unemployed while searching for a new job. I want to expand on some of the key points a little bit.
-Remembering you do still have something to offer - this could be your insight on changes in the industry or your take on an industry-related article. Sharing information on LinkedIn is a really easy, no-pressure way to keep your name in the minds of your connections, but sending an article to someone who you think would be genuinely interested is a great way to make a bit more of a personal connection.
-Staying active in a consulting, part-time, or volunteer capacity within your industry is also really important -- not just because it keeps you busy and helps fill in gaps on your resume, but because it keeps you plugged in and offers a natural way to continue expanding your network.
-It's also key to remember that while you want to be honest about your current employment status and reasons for leaving your last position, you don't want to come across as being too desperate. Employers are (understandably) wary of hiring someone who is just looking for any job - they want to hire someone who really wants their particular job. If you're giving off a "I just need a job" vibe, you might scare off an employer who is concerned you'll end up jumping ship for a better job when it comes along.