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How to Manage Your Career During an Economic Downturn

Consider the following tips:

Take stock:

Evaluate your professional standing and key trends within your industry, company, and profession. What do you need to change? How can you do it? How does your profession look five years from now? Two years from now? What threats do you foresee? What opportunities exist?

Based on your analysis, develop a comprehensive action plan that will help you leverage your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.

Network aggressively:

Networking is not a post-layoff or when-you-feel-like-doing-it activity. All successful professionals incorporate networking as an integral and active component of their career management plan. Tradeshows, conferences, industry and social events, online networking tools—networking opportunities have never been so easily accessible.

Position yourself:

What is your value proposition? What is so unique about you that employers will want to retain you irrespective of what happens to the company financially? We all have something unique to offer and if you can develop a powerful value proposition demonstrating how indispensable you are, you will be in a much better position that most professionals.

Invest in professional development:

This is the Information Age, an environment in which information becomes obsolete faster than fashion. Through continuing education programs and other professional development efforts, it is very important to stay abreast with the cutting-edge of your profession.

Demonstrate leadership and the ability to take on challenges:

The economy inevitably imposes financial strains on any company and under such conditions every employee is expected to do more—take more work, manage multiple tasks, lead projects, and epitomize "cross-functional" in every sense of the term.

Try to volunteer on projects and take on leadership roles. The key is to demonstrate how you can contribute toward the organization’s success and deliver an optimal ROI for the company.

Update your resumé:

Update your resumé every month, if not every week. Highlight your recent accomplishments and create a powerful document that will position you as the perfect solution for any employer’s needs.

Keep your options open:

With all the above strategies, keep your eyes open to new opportunities. Through a portfolio of job search strategies, including networking, you should generate a steady stream of job leads.

Effective career management is an ongoing effort. Once employers recognize how valuable you are, recession or growth, they will do everything they can to retain you.

Nimish Thakkar is a sought-after career management coach and professional resumé writer.

Recession Proof Your Job Search

When the job market is tight, it may be tempting to cut corners on your job search, but for the sake of landing a position, please don’t. When it’s a buyer’s market, you owe it to yourself to put your best foot forward. To stand out, there are three key factors you need to concentrate on—your resumé, interview skills, and a follow-up strategy.

1. Resumé

While a homespun resumé would have garnered interviews in the past, in a tight market you have to step up your game. This isn’t a time to rely on a friend’s goodwill and use her as your "resumé writer."

Search for a professional—a Nationally Certified Resumé Writer or someone who works at a Career or One-Stop Center. A professionally written resumé can make the difference between getting called in for an interview and getting overlooked.

To ensure the best possible service, ask to look at the writer’s resumé samples. Don’t get caught up in all of the hype regarding certifications and publications. This advice may sound strange coming from a Nationally Certified Resumé Writer and published author, but I’ve been in the career-services industry long enough to know that quality work trumps credentials.

That said, you can and should add weight to the extras, but the bottom line is that you have to be comfortable with the quality of work you will receive.

2. Interview Skills

Admit it. How many interviews have you gone on without preparing? In a job-seeker-friendly market when companies are clamoring for great employees, the "wing it" method works just fine. But to compete in today’s market, you have to invest time getting acquainted with common interview questions and sample responses.

To get you started, here are a few.

Many candidates have submitted their resumé for consideration. Why should I hire you over other qualified candidates? Keep in mind that the interviewer is interested in your candidacy. That is the reason you are interviewing for the position. When answering this question, mention the three main reasons you stand out from others. Depending on your position, reasons can include your proficiency in account management, customer service, and/or strategic planning.

What do you know about our company? There is a difference between wanting a job and taking a sincere interest in working for the hiring organization. There are no shortcuts to answering this question successfully; you have to conduct research.

What areas of your abilities would you like to improve upon? This is a tricky way of asking, "What is your greatest weakness?". Choose an ability that needs improvement but isn’t an integral part of your job.

3. Follow-Up Strategies

The interview isn’t over when you walk out of the interviewer’s office. Chances are, many candidates interviewed for the position before you did and many more will interview for the position after you. To remain competitive, it is essential that you write a follow-up letter.

This is advice most job seekers tend to ignore. And it’s a shame because the follow-up letter can seal a job offer. This is because only a small percentage of job seekers write a follow-up letter, so those who do take the time to write one stand out.

Below is a sample of a follow-up letter.

"Thank you for the opportunity to interview for . The level of professionalism displayed by the associates immediately impressed me. Each was warm and exuded a level of enthusiasm that is contagious. My initial impression of was solidified during our interview. From the information you relayed during our meeting, my qualities are a direct fit with the job opening.

Please know that I remain interested in working at . If necessary, I’m open to attending another round of interviews to explore this opportunity further.

I can be reached at (631) 387-1894 or I look forward to your positive response."

In Closing:

Following the advice above will make you more confident. Confidence leads to more interviews. More interviews leads to job offers. Job offers leads to career satisfaction.

So what are you waiting for?

- Linda Matias

Certified in all three areas of the job search—Certified Interview Coach ™ (CIC), Job & Career Transition Coach (JCTC), and Nationally Certified Resumé Writer (NCRW)

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