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Help! I Can't Find A Job In This Economy

 

by Mandy Belaen, AgCareers.com HR Services and Sales Associate

 

The time has finally come. After years of hard work, you have completed your education and are ready to enter the real world in your chosen occupation.

 

Unfortunately, the state of the economy over the last year has proven to be a challenge for recent graduates, with many organizations limiting hiring or freezing recruitment all together. For organizations who are hiring, there is an abundance of qualified candidates to choose from.

 

Although this can be frustrating, the economy appears to be slowly recovering. More importantly, a few simple steps can increase your chances of becoming a candidate that employers want to have working within their organization.

 

NETWORKING

 

It is important not to underestimate the power of networking. The “hidden job market” is a term coined to describe the jobs that are not advertised to the public. It is estimated that a vast majority of positions are not advertised on job boards, newspapers or other forms of advertising.

Developing a strong networking system is a way to insure that you are exposed to these hidden opportunities.

 

While in school, professors may have informed you of the importance of networking and this is true!

 

Most campuses hold careers fairs, information sessions as well as having guest speakers. This is an opportunity to network with other students and those who are directly involved in your field.As well, it is important to take this opportunity to broaden your horizons to opportunities within different companies.

 

Professional associations also hold events to serve as a networking opportunity. These events allow you to gain a better understanding of your industry, as well as make key contacts with industry leaders.

 

Everyone says networking is key—they are right! So often jobs are found through the people you know. Extending your network of contacts through getting involved in clubs, organizations, associations and through volunteering is just one way to excel at networking. How you interact with your network and follow up with themis what willmake networking produce results for you.

 

You can also involve yourself in informal networking as well. Making a list of friends, family, and neighbors to contact may also result in valuable leads.

 

How do you prepare to network? Start by listing family, friends etc. that you know and can reach out to. Develop a list of potential events you would like to attend, such as an association event.

 

When networking, it is imperative to highlight your knowledge, skills and abilities as well as past experiences. Develop a one minute speech about yourself summarizing the above characteristics. The more you prepare for these opportunities, the increased chance of you benefiting from your efforts.

 

After meeting, it is important to determine how best to follow up with the individual. Ask if it would be best to e-mail your cover letter and resume, or if you should follow up with a phone call.

 

VOLUNTEER

 

When human resource professionals look at a potential candidate and their resume, they often look at the timeline of the candidate in regards to graduation, past occupations, etc. The question then arises, how do you account for the time lapsed between past activities? Volunteering is a way to fill in your resume, and is another great networking opportunity.

 

Although any form of volunteering is beneficial, it is important to look for volunteer opportunities that allow you to showcase your skills. For example, if your studies have given you experience with public relations, look for an opportunity that will allow you to assist with press releases and other media communications. Taking part in these activities will help insure that you are maintaining your skills, as well as developing them.

 

Volunteering may also provide an opportunity for you to find a mentor.With a mentoring program, this allows an experienced individual to assist others by giving them advice and leadership while you showcase your skills and abilities. Opportunities such as this significantly increase the credibility of individuals which in turn could possibly increase your chances of being a suitable candidate for a position.

 

SOCIAL NETWORKING

 

Within the last few years, we have witnessed the increased awareness and use of social media sites. Chances are you take part in one of these forms whether it is Twitter, Facebook,MySpace or LinkedIn.

 

These social media outlets have previously been viewed as ways to connect with friends and new acquaintances. However, organizations are turning to this medium as a way to recruit candidates.

 

Organizations realize that an online presence is necessary in order to appeal to recent graduates as well as be seen as trendy and technology savvy. Social networking appeals to organizations because it is free and allows them to provide a short snapshot of positions within their company.

 

Desktop applications such as “TweetDeck” allow you to organize your social media presence. For instance, you can create a group of potential employers, and follow the companies on Twitter and monitor them for any positions you would like to apply to.

 

Other social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to monitor for job advertisements as well. For example, AgCareers.com has developed a Facebook page that highlights their company, as well as featuring a “Job of the Week.”

 

Make a list of companies you would like to work for in the future. Investigate to see if they take part in social media. You can use the search bar at the top of the page. Type in “careers” and this will produce the companies who list current career opportunities on Facebook.

 

It is important to ensure that your presence online is accurate and up-to-date. For example, if you have a LinkedIn profile, make sure that your profile is consistent with your resume. LinkedIn also provides the opportunity to create discussion groups. Taking part in discussions will also serve as a positive networking opportunity.

 

ONLINE JOB BOARDS

 

Online job boards are one of the most common tools used when looking for employment. If used correctly, candidates will find success.

 

There are two types of job boards that are present today.Monster and Workopolis are examples of general job boards with a wide variety of industries represented on their sites.

 

In comparison, AgCareers.com is an example of a niche job board that is specific to one industry. Often it is assumed that AgCareers.com only represents production agriculture type jobs, but in fact a broad array of positions are advertised on the site from finance to engineer positions. It is important to understand what types of jobs and industry sectors that the job boards you are using represent. By doing so, you can focus your online job search to resources that will produce the results you are looking for.

 

The concept of social media is often new to a lot of employers, but not to you. Using social media and portraying a professional image through the variety of outlets you use is imperative. Look for ways to use your socialmedia expertise as a way to set yourself apart from the other candidates!

 

Developing a cover letter and resume is time consuming. Once this task has been completed, chances are you do not want to invest any more time into these documents.

 

However, it is important to continue to monitor and update your cover letter and resume accordingly.

 

As a candidate, when applying to a job you should customize your documents to the job description. Due to the large amount of resumes they receive, organizations may filter resumes based on a specific set of keywords. If your resume is missing these keywords, your resume may not be reviewed.

 

An example would be stating your computer skills and knowledge. If you state you are proficient in Microsoft Office, you may be limiting yourself. Microsoft Office includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If an employer is using the keyword “Excel,” your resume could be filtered out.

 

Online job boards offer job seeker tools in addition to advertising positions. AgCareers.com reaches out to employers as well as job seekers.

 

The resume database is a tool that AgCareers.com offers to job seekers. The purpose of this service is to present a way that employers can reach out to the passive job seekers. This is done by the job seeker adding their current resume to the database and employers having access to the database. They can search for candidates based on keywords and geographic regions. By keeping an up-to-date resume in the database, this allows you to become a possible candidate.

 

It is suggested to utilize both tools by applying to current postings on the site, as well as submitting your resume to the database.

 

CONCLUSION

 

The best way to combat the tough economy is to be prepared. Developing a strategy to find employment will give you better results than being a passive job seeker.

 

It is easy to be discouraged when you do not hear back from employers. Continue to move forward and follow up when possible.

 

Set goals for yourself as well. For example, plan to make ten cold calls per day or devote a specific amount of time each day to monitor job boards.

 

Remember, you get what you put in. If you are making a conscious effort to find employment you will.

 

By employing the above strategies, employers will want you as a member of their organization!