There is nothing more frustrating and depressing when you are out of work and trying to find a job and your job search is going no where. Don't feel bad, you are not alone and there is a good reason why searching for a new job can be so difficult. There is no doubt the job market has changed. 30 years ago when I applied for my first job I remember answering an ad in the paper, calling and speaking to a real person, going in for the interview, filling out a application, had the interview and was offered the $3.75 and hour shipping job. Things are not that simple today. Back then there was no voice mail, no email, you mailed in a typed resume, who had a fax at home? You called and talked to a real person. You may of filled out a application but not the dozen forms you need to today. And you never had to prove you were legally allowed to work in the United States. Today if you are looking for a job how to you stand out in the impersonal hiring environment that exists in most companies. If you apply online you are competing against dozens if not hundreds of others. Competition is stiff for a most jobs and a human may never even see your resume. Are there steps you can follow that will improve your chances? After being unemployed for several months after 3 years of self employment and becoming more depressed and frustrated in not finding a job, I took my job search to a new level which finally paid off in a new job.
I had been self employed for 3 years but after a divorce and starting life over, my self employment was no longer working. I had to bite the bullet and start looking for a job. The first mistake I realized was my resume was not working. I had updated it to reflect my self employment which was not related to my previous career. I was trying to find a position similar to my previous career in the graphics and computer support industry. By starting my work history with my self employment it made it look like I had been out of the industry even longer and my skills even more outdated. I was just shooting myself in the foot. I changed my self employment to reflect my computer skills so while I had been out of the industry for awhile I wasn't out of touch. Some employers have doubts about people who have been self employed. They think they are going to go back to their own business or worse they only want a job so they can use company resources for their own gain. In my case I was able to explain that I had an opportunity to work at home and spend time with my preschool son, it had been for family reasons. Most employers respect that.
To begin with you really need to take a hard look at your resume. If you have always worked in one area and are applying for a position similar to those you have had in the past then your resume may just need some updating and polish. There are a number of good books and websites on resume writing. If you really need help then a resume service may be money well spent. How many resumes do you have? There is no reason you can't have several. I was applying for a variety of unrelated positions. I would of looked "over qualified" or my experience would of been too unrelated for the position if I stuck with just one standard resume. I created a "general" resume that listed a variety of skills that could fit any number of non specific jobs. You can have one that is very specific for the industry you are applying for and there is no reason you can't change it to a specific company especially if it will be scanned in and checked for "keywords" Some companies scan for keywords or buzzwords related to the position, their company or industry. Even if you are the most qualified person for that position, if your resume doesn't have those keywords, it will never get seen.
In addition to having a few different resumes you should have it in several different formats also. If you need to mail it in then a nice easy to read printed resume is in order. Same if you will be faxing it in. If you email your resume then your cover letter will be the body of your email and your resume will be attached. Most employers request it be in a word .doc format or text but you can also use a pdf format. If you have your own website why not post it online with a link in your email. That way if your attachment can't be read they can print it off the internet. For example the link could be http://www.yourwebsite.com/yourresume.html. You should also have a unformatted text only resume for uploading to online job sites.
Be sure to include several ways to contact you. Home phone, cell phone, email. I had the unfortunate luck of having my cell phone and my home phone cut off for non payment within a few days of each other. As luck would have it someone I sent a resume to tried to contact me and couldn't get through. They did send me a email saying they couldn't reach me. I was able to call them and get a interview. Don't leave anything to chance. And if they leave you a message get back to them ASAP while your resume is still on their desk. When you get a interview, be on time, be prepared, do your research about the company you are interviewing with. You can usually find most everything you need off their company website. Come prepared with extra resumes, helpful if you have to fill out a application. Also have copies of your updated references. It is best to have more than 3. Some companies want professional references including past employers, others want personal references of persons not related to you. Be prepared for both.
Where to find a job? Dig! And keep digging! You may never know where one will show up. In some ways the internet has made job searches easier with a variety of job sites to search. You should probably set up accounts at the large sites like hotjobs and monster which will allow you to post your resume and apply directly to postings Also take a look at sites like indeed.com. They are a search engine of sorts for jobs. They search several jobs sites at once. Saves time from going to each site. Post your resume so employers can find you. ASK! Don't be afraid to let everyone you know that you are looking for a job. Drop a email to anyone who might know someone who might have a job opening. You might be surprised how many people really do want to help you. Network your pants off! If you don't ask no one can help you. Search everyday. Try and send out at least one resume a day if not more. Pick up the early edition of the Sunday paper. Send out 5-10 at a time. And keep sending them even after you have interviews set up. You can easily fall behind two or three weeks if you stop sending resumes in hopes of that job offer coming through. Nothing better than telling someone, "I'm sorry I accepted another position" Apply for every job you are remotely interested in even if you don't think you are qualified. Every job listed always has a laundry list of qualifications and requirements. In a perfect world they would find the perfect person that would match every requirement. But employers know that person doesn't exist and they are looking for someone who closely matches and they feel will be a good fit. At the worst you will never hear from them. At the best they will offer you a job or maybe something different within their company. You can always turn it down. Even if it turns out to be something you really don't want to do, it might help you get by for awhile until a better position comes along. Never be afraid to apply to any job!
Most of all don't give up hope, the right job will happen at the right time. Remember to take care of yourself. Go for a walk, get plenty of rest, do something you enjoy just for yourself. As long as you keep moving in a forward direction, if someone asks you what you have been doing to find a job you can proudly say "this is what I have been doing" Persistence will pay off. Good luck.
Tom Smith runs http://www.workingnews.com, a job, career, employment and resume site. Free career articles along with links to employment sites. Permission to reprint with credits attached. He can be reached at email@example.com Copyright 2005