How to Find a Job While You’re Unemployed

Jun 18, 2014

Article originally posted on LinkedIn by . He lists sound advise that is often repeated by recruiters. Enjoy the read!

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It’s true what they say: “finding a job is easiest when you have one.” But what about if you DON’T have one? Are you at a disadvantage? Yes. I just said “it’s true what they say…” But, “easier” is relative.

While you don’t have the luxury of a comfortable paycheck and the minimized pressures of your working counterparts, you have something that people with jobs don’t: Time. Time to research, improve your skills, work on your resume, make phone calls, receive phone calls, schedule interviews, go on interviews… In short, your disadvantage can be used as an advantage. But you do have to USE it. Time is a tool. It can be used well, or you can use it poorly. Here are some tips for your job hunt.

1. Treat finding a job LIKE a job.

So you’re out of a job. Maybe you had a run in with your boss. Maybe you were downsized. Maybe you just wanted to pursue something else. It doesn’t matter. While you are technically unemployed, you have a new job. You are now working for yourself. You aren’t getting paid, but with good, concerted effort, you will be.

What does it mean to treat a job search like a job? Here are some tips:

  • Wake up at a reasonable time, each day. Don’t start your day later than 9am.
  • Stop working at a reasonable time, each day. Don’t work past 6pm.
  • Apply to a certain number of jobs, every day. I recommend at least 6.
  • Take the weekends off (yes).
  • Spend a certain amount of your time each day on your resume.
  • Figure out what is working. Notice that employers pick up the phone between 10 and 11am? Are you getting better responses to direct mail than by electronic means?
  • Cut out the things that are not working.
  • Develop yourself and your skills through a side project.
  • Get out of your house/apartment/etc. Go to a work-space, coffee shop or library.
  • Get creative. If possible, apply outside your current city, or outside your comfort zone.
  • Stay organized. Use a spreadsheet or tracking software of some sort to keep up with the jobs to which you’ve applied. You don’t want to apply for the same job twice.

When I was searching for a job in late 2009, the economy was in the tank. I was living in Miami, in a tiny apartment, struggling to make ends meet with a company I’d started. When I started looking, I made a goal for myself: 8 jobs a day, 5 days a week. After three weeks, I’d applied to over 120 jobs. I only got 7 callbacks. I scheduled 4 interviews and got 3 job offers (though one was for contract work, so really 2.5), and accepted 1 in Houston, TX.

Finding a job should be your job. Treat it like a real job, but don’t obsess over it. Leave it alone when you’re away from it, then hit it full force again when you’re within working hours. It’s a numbers game. If you apply to enough jobs, you will find one. 113 companies decided to pass on my resume in 2009. 113. But one company gave me a chance and it ended up being one of the greatest experiences of my career so far. All you need is one.

2. Leverage your network of friends and family.

This is one I admittedly have trouble with. I am probably more comfortable applying to 120 jobs than I am asking someone for help. But that’s stupid. So dumb. And I know it.

When I was moving to Birmingham, AL, I mentioned to some friends that I was moving back. I had been planning on working remotely with my old job and commuting back and forth between Birmingham and Houston.

This casual conversation opened up the door to a new job with little to no travel, and great benefits. And I didn’t have to apply for 120 jobs.

3. Use a recruiter.

Some people have an aversion to using a recruiter to help them find a job. Perhaps it’s the “I can do it myself” mentality. Perhaps it’s because a lot of recruiters have less than positive reputations (some deserved). But from my point of view, and from the point of view of the person searching, using a recruiter is a win/win. All it can do is help you. Here are some reasons to use a recruiter:

  • They already have contacts.
  • At times, they may have exclusive contracts for certain companies and jobs that would not be available online.
  • They know the industry(ies).
  • Their services are free to the candidate searching.
  • Any company willing to talk to a recruiter is in a good enough financial situation to pay their fee (usually 15-25% of your first year’s salary).
  • Free lunches and coffee! 😉

But seriously, there is no shame in reaching out for help. Let the professionals do their work. And, if they can’t find you a job, you haven’t wasted any of your own time.

4. Use the Internet, every way you possibly can.

The Internet is a great and wonderful thing. The way people had to search for jobs before the Internet, pounding the pavement, searching the Classified ads of newspapers, using the MAIL… It’s amazing anyone ever had a job.

Luckily you have the Internet at your disposal. Here are some sites you can use:

A. Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, theladders.com, etc. When we talk about modern-day job browsing, these sites come up a lot. You have to create an account, upload a resume, etc. and it’s generally a huge pain to get started. But it’s not without it’s rewards. TONS of companies use these sites to post jobs. I have found a job using these sites. I was lucky, because I had to sift through a ton of stuff. But if you are looking for your 6-8 applications/day quota, these sites can deliver. Just make sure your resume stands out.

B. Glassdoor.com I put GlassDoor in it’s own category because of how you can research companies and employees reactions/commentary about your prospective company(ies). You can look for available jobs on here as well, and based on your profile, it will make pretty decent recommendations. However, I will tell you this: Glassdoor reviews are not typically written by happy employees or ex-employees. Make sure you take the commentary with a grain of salt. If you have an interview at a company with terrible reviews, go on the interview. Bring it up in the interview, what you’ve read and ask about the merits of some of the reviews. My personal experience, having worked at a company with a less than stellar Glassdoor review average, was that the company was great for me personally. The group that I worked with was tight-knit. And a lot of the gripes were unrelated to the job I was doing. Make your own decisions.

C. Facebook, Twitter, etc. Social networks can be a great place to ask your friends if they know of anyone looking for a talented _________ whatever it is you do. You might be surprised what kind of response a post like “Know of anyone hiring for ______?” can get from your network. I’ve seen several people get jobs like this.

D. LinkedIn I’m writing this post on LinkedIn and I’m a big believer in this network for professionals. After updating my profile to reflect a promotion I’d received, I got hounded by several recruiters asking if I was looking for a job. I don’t know what about getting promoted would make anyone think I was looking for a job… I wasn’t at the time. But I made some connections during that time that came in handy later.

5. Improve yourself.

Just because you aren’t working doesn’t mean you can’t improve yourself. Now is the time to work on yourself. Now is the time to finish that project you started and never finished. Now is the time to help someone out. If you go into a job and say that you’ve been doing nothing for the past 3 months, it doesn’t look so good. But if you go in and say, “I’ve been helping a non-profit design their logo and electronic newsletter” or “I took some time to renovate my house, want to see some pics?” it goes a lot further than scrambling for an answer. Take some tutorials on something you want to learn, even if it’s not related to your field. Anything you can do to improve yourself and make you stay positive through a job hunt is a win. Idle time is the enemy.

That’s about all the advice I can dole out on the subject. I am in no way an expert on job hunting. I am not a recruiter. I have never worked in HR. I’m just an ex (and probably future) job-seeker. I have had some personal successes, and personal failures in job hunting. This has been rattling around in my head for a while and I just wanted to get it out there. Best of luck in your search, now or in the future!