Wednesday 6 May 2009

Today's job search requires mix of networking strategies

Looking for work is seldom easy and when the economy slows, the difficulty only increases as more people compete for fewer openings. There are many ways to approach a job search, says Dr. Gail Berman-Martin, director of career services at UMass Dartmouth, including networking, visiting state-run career centers, using online resources, and scanning classified ads.

“Whichever form a search takes, persistence is important,” Berman-Martin said. “I’ve been through five recessions and this one is the worst. But I try to instill in the people I see that it will get better.” The more avenues that people are willing to explore the better the chance for success will be, she said.

“Networking is very big. Tell your family, friends and everyone else that you’re looking. But don’t depend on any one thing. Whether you’re 18 or 80 it’s a game of numbers and, like the lottery, you have to be in the game to win. Leave no stone unturned.”

Dawn Quesnel, a certified life coach and career coach based in Foxboro, said the job seekers of today need to employ a mix of strategies. “It really depends on the industry,” she said. “Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, can help some people. One of my clients is an entertainer and is now getting offered gigs that way without even applying for them.”

Websites like Linkedin and the Vault are also good online resources to browse, she said. Yet despite the proliferation of online sites that now complement the more traditional methods used by job seekers, the vast majority of jobs are still found through networking and social contacts, Quesnel said. “I’d say it’s 80 percent networking and 20 percent advertising when it comes to finding a job,” she said. “People can get discouraged after a while but it’s important to remember that consumers are still spending and businesses are still hiring. You have to be clear about your objective and adopt a particular mind set to be successful.”

Quesnel recommends drawing up a list of companies to target and selecting three job titles to pursue. ‘Cold calling,’ dropping in to a place of business to inquire about openings, can sometimes produce results, Berman-Martin said. “If you are going to do that, just be sure that you research the company to see that what they do matches your skills,” she said. “You also need to be organized in your search. ‘I’ll take anything’ is not the right answer if people ask what kind of work you are looking for.” However with the economy mired in a recession that has yet to show any clear signs of recovery people need to be realistic in their expectations, Berman-Martin said.

“You are probably not going to get that perfect job with high pay right away,” she said. “But it’s important to try to stay in the field that interests you, even if it means accepting lower pay or even being willing to volunteer your services.” Berman-Martin also recommends that jobseekers keep a journal that includes where and when resumes were sent and to whom so that follow-up calls can be made.

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