How to Reenter the Job Market

If President-elect Trump honors his commitments to repeal Obamacare and the tens of thousands of regulations passed by President Obama (at an annual cost of billions for businesses) the result should be the creation of a massive number of new jobs. Of course, this will not happen until Mr. Trump takes office and, even then, it will take time.

The sign that people believe him will be an increase in the civilian labor force participation rate which, as everyone now knows, is a far more important statistic than the unemployment rate, and which has not been this low since 1977/78. In other words, people who gave up looking for work will want to, once again, find employment. They will become confident that the economy is finally going to turn around.

The downside is that this means a lot of competition. Accordingly, if you are one of these individuals, here are some steps you should take now to get a leg up on your fellow job seekers.

Obtain what you lack

The most important thing you can do is get what you need. How do you know what you need? Look at job postings for positions in which you are interested. Note the qualifications. If most jobs require something you do not have, get it! Obviously you cannot get a college degree in three months, but you can learn new skills and become current in your profession. There are legitimate on-line courses available including: www.coursera.org, www.edx.org and www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses. Get educated! And if you need a specific certification, find a trade school. It does not matter if they are accredited. You need an education, not a piece of paper to hang on the wall.

Get noticed

Start writing posts on LinkedIn. The fact that you are reading this proves my point. But also utilize such services as Help a Reporter Out and BlogTalkRadio to build your brand. Put differently, what you are trying to do is to get recognized for your expertise so employers will come after you. If you happen to be in New York City on Wednesday, November 30, you can attend my talk on Building a Brand to Attract Employers at the Science, Industry and Business Library. Failing that, you can watch a video of a previous presentation I made on the same topic. It’s only slightly dated. If you follow my advice, with a little luck, not only will employers notice you, but you will be able to include “Media Citations” on your resume, as proof of your being a “recognized expert” in your field.

Prepare an employer-focused resume

Start working on a new resume. It’s not difficult to fill the unemployment gap which I am certain is of concern to you. Under “Work Experience” create a subsection, “Employment-Related Activities.” Include any courses you have taken, short-term work you undertook and, perhaps most importantly, your volunteer activities. You want to show that you have not been idle, that you are not the type of person who can sit around all day and watch television.

Most importantly, don’t start your resume with a professional summary where you engage in self-praise. No employer cares what you think about yourself. Employers want to be reassured that you can meet their needs, that you can solve their problems. Simply begin with a section titled “Selected Accomplishments.” List half a dozen bullet points highlighting relatively recent career successes. That’s what employers care about.

Network

Resume networking. Reach out to old friends and colleagues, even if you have lost touch. You have nothing about which to be embarrassed. Let everyone know that you are back on the job market. While the hope is that there will be plenty of jobs advertised, the competition for them will be great. As always, the simple truth is that the best jobs, and the majority of jobs, are not and will not be advertised. You will only find out about them through networking.

Don’t fall for scams

Once the job market picks up, those persons claiming to be job search experts will start coming out of the woodwork. Don’t fall for them! There are no shortcuts and if something sounds questionable, it probably is. If they tell you that they can get you on the television networks, make certain they are not talking about a mention in a silly press release that is picked up by the network affiliates and placed on their websites. You will be making a fool of yourself. The same is true if you engage the services of someone who tells you to eliminate the gap in your resume by creating a group on LinkedIn and presenting yourself as a “Founder.” You’ll just look silly.

Similarly, be cautious of so-called “professional resume writers.” Don’t pay for a fancy resume written by someone who simply fills in a template. Ask to see three examples of their resumes. If they begin with self-praise, don’t waste your money. Similarly, there is absolutely no need to hire someone to create your LinkedIn profile. Just cut and paste your resume. You don’t want any discrepancies between the two. And, of course, if you have it, add multimedia files. In any case, keep in mind how recruiters actually use LinkedIn.

Watch out for career counselors

If you feel the need for outside assistance, shop around. First, only hire a career counselor who has actually hired people. You don’t want an academic; you want a practitioner! In other words, you want someone who has “been there and done that,” not someone who has just read about it. Second, request a 15-minute free consultation. Take five minutes to explain to them your situation and then let them talk for the remaining 10. If everything they say is boilerplate, move on! If they have nothing negative to say, no real criticism, move on! Most importantly, do not pay an hourly rate. Only pay a flat fee and the service should continue, ideally, until you get your next job. Someone who charges an hourly rate is looking for a long-term relationship with you so that they can milk you for as much money as they can. You don’t want a relationship, you want a job! And since I just happen to be a career counselor myself I can say with complete authority, we are very boring people! You can find far more interesting souls with whom to have a relationship.

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Bruce Hurwitz is an executive recruiter and career counselor. He has helped scores (thousands if you include attendees at his presentations) of people, including veterans, not only change jobs but, on occasion, change careers. Having successfully transitioned from academia to non-profits to the recruiting industry, he has been there and done that!

Bruce is a recognized authority on job search and career issues, having been quoted in over 700 articles, appearing in some 500 publications, across the United States and in more than 30 foreign countries. His posts on LinkedIn have been read over 300,000 times and have garnered national and international media attention, including television appearances on Fox Business Network and Headline News (CNN).

In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, he chairs their Entrepreneurs Network, hosts their weekly podcast – The Voice of Manhattan Business – and serves as an Ambassador.

An advocate for the protection of job seekers, visit the homepage of his website, www.hsstaffing.com, to read about questionable offerings of so-called job search assistance companies and to learn about his upcoming speaking engagements.

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