How do I jump-start a stalled job search?

You got laid off because of the poor economy and declining sales. You have a severance package but would prefer to get right back on the horse and start a new job. Immediately you call your former colleagues, friends and neighbors and ask who is hiring. No one? You prepare a resume, look for a job online, and apply to many jobs that seem to be a good match to your background. You have spent hours on the phone trying to get your unemployment benefits resolved. Now what? It has been more than a month, perhaps several, and not one employer has contacted you. Or perhaps you have even made it to the interview stage, but have not gotten an offer. It is easy to get discouraged, and you may be tempted to throw in the towel and wait until things get better. Why is this not a good idea?

First, there are still work out there that needs to be done. Many employees are overwhelmed, doing the work of numerous people who were let go. Many employers are using temporary or contract workers to get by until they have authorization to hire someone. If you research which companies are doing this sort of thing, you may be able to get your foot in the door until something more permanent materializes. In the meantime, you can evaluate an employer from the inside and decide if this is a place where you want to work long-term.

Second, consider volunteering. Pick a cause you believe in and have perhaps supported financially in the past, and give an organization the gift of your time. Not only will you feel good for making the world a better place, but you may also come into contact with someone who may know someone who can refer you to a great job. Spend at least one hour a week making a difference in someone’s life, and you can’t go wrong.

Third, identify companies where you want to work, whether or not they are currently hiring. Once positions are advertised to the general public, you will be competing with hundreds if not thousands of other applicants. Conduct in-depth research on these companies and their current needs. Locate people already employed there, preferably in departments where you want to work. Let them know how you can add to their profits or improve their procedures.

Finally, enlist a buddy or a coach to help you through the rough patches. Meet regularly to evaluate your progress and cheer for each other’s efforts. The more targeted time you spend on your search, the more quickly you will find a job. The less time you spend… well you know the answer to that!

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