3 Job Hunting Makeovers That Won't Cost a Dime

By Drew Robb (Send Email)
Posted Nov 6, 2008


Drew Robb
You hear much about makeovers these days. Stars getting a new look. Even regular 30- and 40-something people being jarred out of that "Breakfast Club" or "Miami Vice" image. Well, how about a makeover for the IT job market seeker?

Career and Staffing: Job search coming up short? It may be time for an employability makeover.

This doesn't necessarily mean a new hairdo, a visit to the dentist or an updated wardrobe — although they might play a part. What we are talking about is an employability makeover.

Attitude Makeover

Understandably, there's a lot of fear in the marketplace these days. From stocks crashing to mortgage bailouts to talk of a lengthy recession, it isn't the best of time to be looking for work (or searching for a new gig). Recently, that news was worsened by announcements of impending layoffs by American Express, Fidelity Insurance, and many others in the financial sector, as well as the technology sector. This can make it seem hard to either keep an existing job or find a new one.

One thing that has been observed over and over again is the fact that those with a positive outlook tend to do better than those who swim in self-pity, self-doubt or the idea that something can't be done. This doesn't mean you should go around with a fake smile or a pretend personality. But time and again, negative attitudes are paralleled by negative actions. In other words, those who conceive great difficulty in finding a job are giving themselves ample justification to not bother even trying.

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Perhaps the person has been battered down by months of fruitless endeavor. After sending out many resumes, or failing to land any of the many jobs interviewed for, frustration is inevitable. But if it gets you down so much that you can't bounce back, your chances of getting something are severely hampered.

Instead of complaining about how bad it all is or letting rigor mortis set in, do something about an area you can control — yourself. Ask yourself a few simple questions.

  • How many jobs have I applied for in the past month?
  • How many resumes have I sent out?
  • How well did I prepare for those last interviews?
  • How can I improve myself to make myself even more employable?
  • Do I exude negativity to such a degree that I put people off — even friends and long-time associates?

Be honest. You might be surprised about what you discover.

Do something to jar yourself out of apathy. Whatever it takes to renew the batteries, do it. Attack the job market again with gusto. Your enthusiasm to get to work telegraphs itself to others more than you know. So be positive and really decide to get a job. Then, make sure that you are actively working on achieving that goal every day.

I don't mean think about it or idly look at a couple of job sites each day. No. Treat getting a job as though that is your job. Spend all your days working on getting back to work. Call friends and old associates, send out resumes, send letters and e-mails. Knock on doors if it makes sense to you to do so. Hard work in the realm of finding work greatly increases the chances of success.

Resume Makeover

That tired old resume of yours may be the problem. If it isn't netting you any interviews, it might be time to have a friend or professional review it. Start by eliminating all typos. Perhaps you also need to get away from the drab old timeline or single-page format. The point is to do something to jazz it up so it makes it through the keyword scanner and catches the eye of an HR recruiter.

Another good tactic is to tailor each resume to each specific application. Tweak the content so it shows how you fit that job. Move the most relevant sections front and center. Your resume is a sales tool. Use it to gain you more interviews.

Networking Makeover

If you aren't finding work, it's also likely that your networking skills have gotten stagnant. Maybe your approach was successful a decade ago when you were last on the market. Times change. Invest some time in studying the job market. Read articles and books about it. Find out what the latest networking gurus are saying. Join a couple of clubs that might forward your goal. Enroll in a course or two to make yourself more employable — and use that venue to find more job possibilities.

If you don't have a profile on Facebook or LinkedIn, get on them, and put as much care into your online presence as your paper one. These sites offer a host of networking resources from connections that can be both made and easily re-established as well as job postings.

In short, find a way to open up new lines of communication if the old ones aren't working. Go to trade shows, maybe even show up at a high school reunion and find out who is in your field. Volunteer to help in a related area and do a great job. Speak at an event. Do something to heighten your visibility and gain attention from the people who might hire you. Enterprise in networking is what it is all about.

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