August 21, 2015

4 Tips to Help You Find a Job When You Don’t Already Have One

BusinessUnless you are facing extreme pressures are threatening your mental or physical well-being, it’s generally recommended that you find a new job before resigning from your old job. There are many reasons why this is a good idea, including unfortunately common prejudices that many hiring managers have against unemployed applicants.

If you leave your current job without having a new job lined up, you will be making your job search much more difficult. That being said, the reality is that many of you will voluntarily leave your current jobs without having new ones waiting, and others will find themselves involuntarily unemployed.

If you find yourself looking for a job without a job for whatever reason, you will be facing a unique challenge that will require an effective job search strategy. To help you negotiate your way out of this tough spot, I offer these four tips:

1. Hit the Ground Running

Data cited by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows that the hiring bias against unemployed applicants gets worse as the duration of unemployment increases. It appears that the long-term unemployed have to send out 3.5 times as many resumes as the short-term unemployed (that is, those who are unemployed for less than six months) just to get an interview.

One of the best tips we can give is to hit the ground running, as the unemployment prejudice will get noticeably worse each month you are unemployed. Take advantage of the golden early period by blasting out as many high-quality and tailored applications as you can. I am not advocating job application spamming — I am talking quantity and quality.

2. Turn on the Afterburner at Six months

Some of you will land jobs before the dreaded six-month mark, but research shows that thousands of you will still remain unemployed at this point. Don’t allow despair to kick in. Instead, turn on the afterburner.

You’ll need to be sending out about 3.5 times as many quality applications as the average employed job seeker to get an interview. It’s annoying, but brute force, high-volume job applications are one of the methods you’ll need to adopt in order to break down the thick walls of employment prejudicBoxese and bust your way back into a job.

3. Apply to Firms Where You Have Relevant Industry Experience

Your application strategy should be targeted toward companies in the same sector as your previous job. Research shows that unemployed applicants with skills specific to firms that produce similar products and services have a higher chance of being invited to interview. Resist the temptation to spray your resume far and wide. Instead, spend the time researching and targeting employment opportunities for which you have matching industry experience.

4. Show That You Have Kept Your Skills Up to Date

Research presented in the white paper linked to above also indicates that employers believe that the long-term unemployed may not be as productive as other job seekers, as a result of their extended period of time outside of the workplace. This is the likely reason for some of the unemployment prejudice.

There is not much evidence to show how quickly professionals skills deteriorate due to lack of use, so employers do not have a cast-iron case backing up their beliefs. This means they may be open to persuasion that you have not lost your skills, and the best way to persuade is to show rather than tell.

Can you engage in any freelance or voluntary work while you are seeking full-time employment that enables you to continue to practice your job skills? If so, you can then demonstrate that your skills have not eroded and that you remain competent in your chosen area. Make sure to include this information in your cover letter and social media profiles, and mention it at interview to really drive it home.

Unemployed job seekers face a lot of challenges when it comes to the job hunt, but armed with these tips, you should be able to overcome the obstacles and find yourself a new job.

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Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.