Let’s face it—job hunting is a challenge in a good economy and we are now well into a full blown recession. If you dust off that old econ textbook in your mental library, you’ll remember a model called Supply and Demand. It shows that as supply decreases and demand increases, price goes up. Price, in the case of job hunting, is the difficulty of landing a job.
So if you do find yourself in the unfortunate position of being job deficient in a recession, what can you do? Here are five tactics I’ve used to get hired during tough times.
1. Be different.
Hiring managers and recruiters see hundreds of resumes hit their inbox every day. The ones that get read are the ones that stand out. Use eye-catching subject lines, write concise cover letters that emphasize your uniqueness, and make sure your resume can be scanned quickly with your key achievements highlighted. Better yet, make a personal connection to the hiring manager through your network (see tip number four) and “hand deliver” your cover letter and resume.
2. Search outside the box.
When looking for job opportunities, don’t just blast out your resume to hundreds of companies on the same job boards that everyone else is using. Get out and meet people in your industry at meet ups and volunteer in your community to make connections. Participating in focus groups is another great way to get your foot in the door and potentially meet your future boss; this is how I ended up at Netflix for over four years. Gainful employment aside, these all have secondary benefits (like making friends, helping your community, and earning three free months of Netflix.)
3. Look upstream.
Try to find job opportunities before they get posted. For example, if you work in the tech industry, read blogs like VentureBeat that list companies that have raised funding. That’s an almost a sure sign they will be hiring soon, and sending a congratulatory note with your resume before they post openings is a great way to get noticed.
4. Work your network.
Social networks like LinkedIn are a fantastic way to get your foot in the door. Add everyone you know, join groups, get recommended by your connections, and start posting answers to questions. This is how I ended up here at Thrive and how we do most of our hiring.
5. Consider alternative arrangements.
Budget cutbacks may make it difficult for companies to hire full-time employees, but that doesn’t mean there’s any less work to do. If you have some experience, try looking for consulting gigs. If you’re new to the job market, try finding a paid internship. Neither one of these guarantee a stable income, but it’s money in your pocket and you’ll be the first person they consider for a full-time job when budgets are restored.