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How to job-search in a hostile economy

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Lately I’ve been asked for advice on what to do to find a job in marketing in a down economy. I too graduated in a recession where too many people were vying for too few jobs. I’m one of the lucky ones – eventually I found what I love to do. I have the benefit of hindsight on what can be a frustrating job search and situation. So, I’ve reflected on some key things that I think make a difference when you are starting out (or out of a job) during a recession.

Learn something. It’s a recession. There are very few jobs out there – much less dream jobs waiting for you to arrive on the scene. So you may have to just find a job that will help pay the bills (or work for free at an internship). Even a job you don’t like can help you develop skills and understand your strengths and weaknesses.

Volunteer. There is a lot of need out there for volunteers at various levels in different organizations. This is also a great way to build business skills and network. Never underestimate the power of a great network.

Stand out. What makes you different and better than the next candidate? Show your stuff, but be yourself. If you are inauthentic it will show.

Be resilient. Sure it can be depressing to be in a job that is no longer working for you or to be out of a job altogether, but if you are early in your career, it won’t be the last time you encounter adversity. People who bounce back are the most successful in the long run.  You don’t have to be Pollyanna but keeping a positive attitude and sense of humor helps.

Embrace change. Everything changes. Period. Personal computers weren’t even used in business when I started out (ouch) and now I don’t know what I’d do without one.

Ask for help. People, even busy people like to help. Identify companies you would like to work for and ask a top executive or someone who is in the type of job you want if they will talk to you for a half hour. You’ll build your network and learn something in the process.

Ask “what’s in it for them.” Position your skills for the position you want. For example, don’t just put “writing skills” on your resume, but tell what kind of writing skills – proposals, blogs, copy, technical, research, etc.

I know it’s hard out there, but you have to have faith. Because of a recession, I took a job as a sales clerk at a department store to pay the bills out of college. I made some great friends, learned a lot about business by helping my manager and fell in love with downtown Minneapolis. Now I’m lucky enough to have my own company in the city I love!