Job Hunting in a Tight Market

As you can imagine, I speak to a lot of people these days who are out of work. The challenges of job searching have multiplied in this economy – the high rate of unemployment is causing steeper competition for fewer jobs; many over 40 workers are being told they are “overqualified” (translation: the employer does not want to pay too much); and it’s easy to spend time feeling depressed or commiserating with others. The reality is that the employment scene is likely to be tough for a while. So, is there any hope? Yes, there are things that you can do to increase your odds of getting to the top of the pile. They require being realistic, knowing your budget, keeping an open mind, and having a positive attitude…even if that is a challenge. Wishing you all the best of success!

  • Enlist support – if you are depressed, angry, or distraught, be sure to get the help and support that you need from your family, friends, or a professional. Let them know how you are feeling and what would be helpful for you to go forward. Sometimes taking a little break from your search can help you to reenergize and provide the confidence you need. Do something fun to reward yourself with each step in your search.
  • Be flexible – the work is just not there in all fields. You may need to consider a change in the type of work that you do or in the level of the position. Or, perhaps you may want to do the same type of work but for a different type of company.
  • Be creative – keep an eye out for opportunities and how you can be helpful. Read the local business journal to learn of new businesses, new services, or something different in an existing company that may relate to your area of expertise.
  • Target your résumé – today’s times call for a résumé that is very focused at your target. For example, if you are a senior teacher applying for a Director position in a small day camp, be sure your resume does not just reflect your teaching abilities. It must also show how you have coordinated programs, hired staff, worked at a camp, and managed a budget. And of course, it must all be true.
  • Network – reach out to recruiters, to friends and family, and to professional associations. Establish relationships and get involved to demonstrate your skills and talent.
  • Positive Attitude – employers want employees who exhibit an open, friendly attitude with troubles left at home. Use breaks, rewards, friends, exercise, and healthy eating to help keep up a good attitude. Be sure you are conveying that when you network with others and when you interview.
  • Are you accused of being overqualified? Practice saying the following: “I am FULLY qualified; I want to contribute to your company.  I am looking to be productive in your organization and willing to be flexible with my compensation package.” Focus on the value that you can add to the company in a short amount of time.
  • Persistence – it may take more effort to get an interview or an offer when there are less jobs out there.  Remember to follow up after an interview with a thank you note. Emphasize how you can contribute to the firm.  See if you can get any feedback as to how you did. Network and see how you can help others so that they remember you. Volunteer to add to your experience and your connections.
  • Read – keep up with professional journals in your field. Here are some free sites to check out: and

Free Services – there are many free career services available thorough the Department of Labor. To locate the nearest Career One-Stop, visit