Job-Hunting in Times of Uncertainty: Five Overlooked Strategies to Help Make Your Job Search More Productive and Successful

by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

In times when the economy falters, when financial markets fall, and when companies of all sizes in many industries announce plans to reduce their workforce, job-seekers tend to get a bit concerned about the length and success of the job search they may face. It almost goes without saying that job-hunting in a boom economy is quite different (and much easier) than job-hunting in a slumping economy.

Different, yes. Harder and often more time-consuming, yes. Impossible, no. Job-hunting is an art that simply takes more time and work to perfect in uncertain times than in good times. You will have to work harder and smarter at finding new opportunities, but they are out there, and if you take advantage of these five strategies you will be much better positioned to land a new job.

Utilizing the Power of Networking
What’s the most important tool of job-hunting, especially in times of uncertainty? Not a resume nor interviewing skills…but networking. Why networking? Networking is the most effective tool of job-hunting because if you use your network properly, you will hear of multiple job opportunities, often before they are even listed (if they are ever listed).

Some job-seekers shy away from networking because they equate networking with taking advantage of people, but if done correctly, networking can be a rewarding experience for all parties involved. Networking is not asking everyone you know for a job. Networking means developing a broad list of contacts -- family, friends, and people you've met through various social and business functions -- and using them to your advantage when you look for a job. People in your network may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry, and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network.

Now is the time to broaden your network -- even if you are not currently looking for a new job. You never know when you’ll need your network, so make every effort to grow it.

Need more information about networking? We have lots of networking tips, names and contacts for numerous networking and professional organizations, networking do’s and don’ts, and much more in the Art of Networking section of Quintessential Careers.

Finding Hidden Job Opportunities
In good times job openings are plentiful, but in uncertain times the job openings disappear. Job-seekers are left scrambling for the few “open” jobs. But there are always other job possibilities lurking in the background, and it is up to the persistent job-seeker to find those hidden job opportunities and/or to create new opportunities.

Finding hidden opportunities. Job-seekers must take full advantage of their network to uncover as many potential job openings as possible. Hunt down every lead. Consider using cold calling techniques to find other opportunities. Focus more of your time and energy here than trying to respond to every job posting at or the other job boards.

Creating new opportunities. As companies downsize and consolidate job functions, many opportunities may arise for a job-seeker with the right skills. Determine your most marketable skills, examine the ongoing needs of the employers where you want to work (including your current employer), and develop a proposal showcasing how the employer would benefit from hiring you.

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