Savvy Job Hunting: Tricks of the Trade

Did you know that finding a job is, in itself, a full-time job? I’m just going to lay that right out there, up front, so you don’t get any ideas. There are no shortcuts on this one, folks, I’m sorry – you must do the work.

For the purposes of this article, let’s say you’ve been laid-off.

You’re angry because, let’s be honest, it was the last thing you expected and you feel like you’ve been hand-picked for the pink slip you’ve just received. It’s tough to take into consideration things that may have lead your employer to decide on layoffs in the first place and even harder to realize that it isn’t personal, it’s financial.

You’re scared because you’ve got bills to pay and the bills don’t auto-magically (yes, I said that on purpose) stop coming just because your regular source of income has suddenly ceased. You’ve got a cartoon-esque tornado over your head which is rotating a constant barrage of thoughts: mortgage or rent, utilities, phone bills, car payments, doctor bills, money, money, money…and these crazy question marks that, for some reason, look like they are morphing into what could be interpreted as ultra-sharp scythes. <shudder>

You’re hurt because, let’s face it, it does feel personal even if it really isn’t and it’s hard to separate how you feel from the facts that led to the decision that led to you ultimately losing your job. (gasp!) You gave those folks lots of good years of your life, by golly. You worked hard. You dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”. How could they do this to you?

You feel worthless because…well…all of the above.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan I’ll bet you’re thinking the same thing I am, right? That part, in Order of the Phoenix, after Harry kisses Cho and has gone back to the common room. Hermione is trying to explain to Harry and Ron how Cho must be feeling:


“Well, obviously, she’s feeling very sad, because of Cedric dying. Then I expect she’s feeling confused because she liked Cedric and now she likes Harry, and she can’t work out who she likes best. Then she’ll be feeling guilty, thinking it’s an insult to Cedric’s memory to be kissing Harry at all, and she’ll be worrying about what everyone else might say about her if she starts going out with Harry. And she probably can’t work out what her feelings toward Harry are anyway, because he was the one who was with Cedric when Cedric died, so that’s all very mixed up and painful. Oh, and she’s afraid she’s going to be thrown off the Ravenclaw Quidditch team because she’s been flying so badly.”


“One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.”


“Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”

 (Credit to J.K. Rolling, author of the Harry Potter series of books)

I’m not making light of this no job thing, but you get the correlation, right? There is just so much stuff is going on inside your head you feel like you’re going explode. Also…you are not worthless.

But, what do you do now? Well, in my opinion it’s okay to take a couple of days to refocus. For me, that means cleaning and music because those two things focus me and allow me to think objectively about any given situation. Don’t take too long, though, because then the refocusing thing simply becomes an excuse. After a while it just turns into laziness and apathy and the next thing you know you’re six, eight, twelve months down the line, collecting unemployment and still feeling sorry for yourself.

WAKE UP! (Sorry – I didn’t mean to yell. I know, I’m on my soap box right now and I feel very passionately about this, but you’re awake now, right?)

Let’s look at some next steps:

  • Update your resume. Break out the old resume and start updating. If you don’t have one, make one. Look it over carefully and think about not just the content, but how a prospective employer is going to view it. Proof-read, spell check, and make certain that all your dates, facts and information are correct because I’m telling you, attention to detail within your resume is a big deal. Print out several hard copies of your resume and keep them with you at all times.You never know when you might need to hand one to somebody. (For me, it’s hard not to go into a ton of detail with regard to resumes because I feel very strongly about them and the magic they can work. I am also writing an article about resumes in which I get to go into a ton of detail and which I promise I’ll eventually post.)
  • Treat finding a job as your job. Make it the first thing you think about when you get up in the morning and the last thing you think about when you go to bed at night. I know that life gets in the way sometimes, but you have to make this your priority. Finding a job, even when you’re diligent about it, can take a while. But you don’t have to prolong it and, in fact, can speed it up by focusing on that one pursuit.
  • Call the local Chambers of Commerce. Huh? Why? Well…call them and ask them if they have a list of all the businesses in the area. Sometimes those lists are online, which is great; sometimes they’re not. Ask them if they would be willing to email, mail, or fax these lists to you. You don’t need to explain why – unless you just want to. Sometimes, though, explaining your situation (I’m unemployed and seeking a job and would like a list of area employers that might be hiring) can unstick a hesitant person.
  • Talk to your friends. Seriously? Talk to my friends? That’s the best advice you can give me? Well, no – not the best advice, but certainly sound advice. Here’s the thing: Your friends (most of them, anyway) have jobs, know people, have contacts you may not have. Your friends may know of available positions you are not aware of. Listen, you’re going to talk to your friends about this anyway, right? So why not network with them? Plus, sometimes a friend is just the foot in the door you’ll need to your next job opportunity.
  • Update your social media profile. Yes, this one is touchy and my learned counterpart, Tananda, is writing an article as we speak about what your social media profile says about you – but update it anyway. LinkedIn, Facebook, maybe your personal blog… I won’t say any more about this right now, though. Tananda has that covered here:
  • Pound the pavement. It’s an old term – and it still applies – but maybe in a more, ah, virtual way. Think about it. It used to be that when you were looking for a job, you got up, showered, shaved (hopefully), shined your shoes, put on a suit and tie, slicked back your hair, grabbed your briefcase (because, hey, it looks awesome with a suit), walked out your front door, got in the car, and started quite literally pounding the pavement looking for work. Knocking on every door of every business you were qualified to work for and then some. And, while that still works and is definitely something to consider, there’s this wonderful invention we have now called The Internet. Oh, and email, too! Remember that list of area employers you got from the Chamber of Commerce? Do they have an online presence? If they do, check it out and see if they have a Careers section. (Alternately called Jobs or Employment, too.) Check out their available position and apply for everything you could possibly be qualified for. If there isn’t a website, or if you cannot immediately find a careers section, is there a Contact Us page? An email address? Draft a strong, introductory cover letter and email them a copy of your resume. Even if there are no available positions, send them an unsolicited inquiry. Sometimes employers don’t get around to posting available positions right away and your unsolicited inquiry, containing an awesome cover letter and a well-thought-out resume could be the key to getting you in the door.
  • Don’t let the moss grow. Huh? What does that mean? Simply this. The longer you wait the harder it’s going to get. It’s a market people, and every market runs out of stuff every now and then…including jobs. So don’t wait. Look every single day and sometimes twice a day. 

Stuff to take with you when you go:

indeed – one search. all jobs.

This one is great because you can enter your search parameters and it remembers them every time you visit. And the next time you visit it will tell you how many new jobs are posted under that category! It pulls from all available, posted positions from all the major job sites including Monster, Career Builder, and more…plus it pulls directly from individual employer sites that have posted positions as well as temporary agencies with available positions.



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