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.
I know it can sound counter-intuitive, but many job seekers find that when they limit the scope of their skills, they are able to substantially increase the number of employers interested in them. The quality of jobs being offered also suddenly skyrockets.
When an employer is looking to fill an opening, it's usually because the company has a clear need. They're not looking for someone who can do everything, they're looking for someone who does this specific thing really well. They're also looking for someone who is committed to doing this specific thing for the long term. You might happen to have a rare blend of excellent accounting, sales, and logistics skills, but you're so much less likely to find someone who wants to utilize all of those talents of yours.
As a job seeker who is lucky to get 15 seconds of employer attention to your resume, you need to quickly convey exactly what it is you're offering and how you bring value to a company. It's simply not reasonable to expect a busy employer going through a hundred resumes to edit your resume for you. Not only can your job-specific skills get lost in the shuffle, you're also opening yourself up to immediate dismissal because it's not immediately clear that you would be really, really happy to get a job managing the warehouse. Instead, the employer is apt to wonder if you happen to be a good warehouse manager with a passion for sales, and therefore the type of warehouse manager who would drop everything for the perfect sales job when it comes along.
But narrowing your skillset isn't just a question of choosing an area of work or a job title - it goes beyond that. If you have a specialized area of expertise - say, insurance accounting - that makes you a much more competitive candidate for insurance accounting jobs. You might be able to get a job in another area of accounting, but it's the insurance companies who are most likely to pay top dollar and actively pursue you as a candidate.
If you don't have an area of expertise, consider defining one for yourself. This can help you increase your earning potential and attractiveness in the job market, and it can also help you get re-energized for your career. If you're an HR person and you can develop a depth of knowledge regarding employment law, you can pitch yourself as an employment law expert. Are there less employment law jobs than general HR jobs? Sure, of course. But there are also less people who are highly qualified for those jobs.
An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal focuses on how C-level executives spend their time, and one of the quotes that really jumped out was from Harvard Business School professor Robert Steven Kaplan. The article says:
He recommends executives substitute the word 'money' for 'time' when deciding how to schedule their week. "With money... you'd be more careful and judicious about it. If someone asked you for some, you'd be more likely to say no."
While this advice certainly lends itself well to executive leadership, it could easily be applied to many workers' situations. Whether an employee is a recent hire looking to impress the boss or a seasoned worker who is accustomed to taking on additional responsibilities, it can be all too automatic of a response to agree to pitch in extra.
As far as endless meetings go, the big question is how productive the meetings are. If you're actually getting a lot done in meetings, there's no reason to feel you need to spend less time in them.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its latest forecast for the fastest growing jobs - and predicted a drop to a 5.2% unemployment rate by 2020. Among the highest paying jobs on this list are veterinarians, biomedical engineers, medical scientists, physical therapists, audiologists, dental hygienists, and diagnostic medical sonographers - all with median annual salaries between $64k-$82k in 2010). Other fast-growing jobs also include a heavy dose of healthcare industry positions including personal care aides, home health aides, occupational therapy assistants, physical therapy assistants, medical secretaries, marriage and family therapists, health educators, and mental health counselors - all with considerably lower median wages.
While we're also expecting growth in the construction industry, the bulk of those jobs have median salaries in the $20k - $30k ranges. (Cost estimators are the notable exception with median annual salaries of nearly $58k in 2010.)
The BLS also points to growing needs for event planners, interpreters and translators, and bicycle repairers - a nice addition to the mix.
There was a recent infographic in the New York Times exploring the occupations and industries of the top 1% of earners in the US. The top categories, perhaps unsurprisingly, are managers, physicians, chief executives and public administrators, and lawyers. Perhaps surprisingly, cashiers tend to fare better than curators, writers are more likely to live in a top 1% household than pharmacists, and a larger percentage of veterinarians than economists ranks in the top 1%. Where does your job fall? What income trends surprise you?