In this job market, between layoffs and hiring freezes, there may be no hope to hinge on.
“There is no silver lining,” said Jan Reha, who has been self-employed as a career counselor for 32 years and runs Career Discovery. “It’s dire. Nothing seems to be alleviating.”
Competition remains the highest it’s been in years, and secure industries have fallen by the wayside, according to Reha and other career counselors.
“There are no silver bullets in this one,” Reha said. “Right now, almost no one is hiring, particularly at this time of year.”
But that doesn’t mean jobs don’t exist. Job seekers still have avenues and ways to put themselves ahead of the pack and survive the storm, according to Reha and Matt Youngquist, career Coach and outplacement consultant of Career Horizons.
While Youngquist agrees that attempts to look for the silver lining in the current job market on a macro level are grim, individuals can still get jobs on a micro level as long as they adjust to the realities of the market.
“The first thing I would do if someone has lost their job,” Youngquist said, “is to bare themselves emotionally and financially for it to take longer than expect. Don’t panic when your resume doesn’t generate as many interviews as you thought it would.”
Though it might seem obvious the market looks a lot different than it did five years ago, many job hunters aren’t adapting to the new demands or adjusting to harsher realities.
“Far too many people are treating the job hunt like they did three or five years ago,” Youngquist said. “They’re in for a very rude awakening.”
Along with the market, the job-hunting process has undergone changes, too — from social networking to employment websites. For workers reentering the work force, navigating job sites can be particularly frustrating.
“It’s estimated there’s about 1,000 Internet employment websites,” Youngquist said. “It’s like an alien landscape.”
But that expanse of choices does not always help job hunters, particularly when the sites’ quality and credibility varies. According to Youngquist, the best three job sites are: indeed.com,simplyhired.comand craigslist.com.
He also said, “It’s very tired news, but I would say 80 to 90 percent of jobs right now are through word-of-mouth and hired underground because companies would rather hire people from known acquaintances.”
With a market flooded with people seeking jobs, the competition for local jobs continues to go up. But with an on-line job site where anyone can post a resume, the competition for a position can pit job hunters against hundreds or thousands of other applicants.
Reha estimates there is a 6-percent chance of getting any response from Internet job sites.
“You have to get out there. Go to all your professional networks,” Reha recommended. “That’s where you find out what’s going on and where job opportunities exist.”
For Center for Career Alternatives case manager Larry Clark, the job landscape looks more bleak because his clientele often face barriers, like past criminal records and homelessness.
The Center for Career Alternatives, at 901 Rainier Ave. S., provides training, education opportunities at no cost and employment services, with a mission to promote “individual self-sufficiency and self-worth for a culturally diverse population of disadvantaged youths and adults,” state’s the agency’s web site.
The recession had made Clark’s job even more difficult since his job directly depends on placing clients into jobs.
“In my 40 years in doing job development and working for social agencies, this is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” Clark said. “Right now, it’s an employer’s market. Before, my phone was ringing with people calling me for job placements; now I’m calling them to see if there are any openings.”
But like Reha and Youngquist, Clark points to social networking as crucial, as well as more creative job searching.
“We go into a hidden market,” Clark said. “Right now, a lot of employers aren’t advertising because if they’ve got one position, they’ll get flooded with applicants, so they like agencies like us who go to them.”
“You have to have patience and be persistent,” Clark said. “If you apply for 10 jobs you’re going to get one bite, not an interview. If one job opens up, 100 people are applying. Get ready to get out there 24/7, and don’t get discouraged.”
Apart from a recession-ridden market, what used to be considered the typical career path — high school, college, career — doesn’t apply anymore, according to Reha. Instead of sticking to this linear process, it may be more prudent to figure out more specifically what one wants to do and acquire the necessary skills.
“I tell people they’ve got to really watch what companies are doing,” Reha said. “People haven’t done this before. They always think, ‘I’ll get the education, and I’ll figure out the job market.’ Well, that’s putting the cart before the horse.”
As for education for education’s sake, Reha called this an elitist attitude that does not match up with the current competitive global market.
“I’m seeing a lot of young people with a general bachelor’s degree, and I know the colleges aren’t doing their job. They don’t care whether there is employment at the end of education,” Reha said.
Instead of focusing on education as the end-all goal, concrete skills may open more doors for job hunters — whether those skills are gained through internships or volunteer services. And while in school, the luxury of taking classes to test a student’s interest — “that day is gone,” Reha said, “unless you have a pile of money behind you.”
“Getting a job requires focus, knowledge of the job market and highly developed skills,” she added.
With all these new requirements and hula hoops to jump through, from those firsttime job hunters to those thrown into a hostile market, acceptance and persistence will at least help one get through the dry months.
“Take this time to figure out what your really want to do,” Youngquist said. “Take it day-by-day. Have a clear plan you follow. Just remind yourself, you need to find one job, not 20.”
It certainly will take more work and dedication than normal, and maybe some catch-up to adjust to the current rules of the job hunt, but people are still getting jobs. Despite the rocky market, a few simple rules can help job hunters stand out among the crowd.
Sixty-five to 75 percent of communication is nonverbal, Reha said: “So, it’s how you present yourself. Look professional and as confident as you can. Be ingratiating, open and congenial, and you need to have some important questions to ask because that shows you have done your research.”
Though it sounds like common sense, Youngquist said employers tell him they want to see more old-fashioned basic manners.
“Showing up on time and being willing to do the dirty work, not having a sense of entitlement,” he said. “Do your homework, show up and have something interesting and relevant to say about the company and how you can help them.”