It used to be easier to find a job. When life revolved around small communities, your job opportunities were dictated by skill or who you knew. Instead of going to college, you probably trained as an apprentice until you could start your own business. Or you took over the family business. Or if you were an entrepreneur, maybe you headed out into the wide world to seek your fortune. Even more recently, you might have picked up a newspaper to peruse the employment ads, then called or gone down to the office to see about an interview.
It’s amazing how shaking someone’s hand can help you get a foot in the door. Today, everything has become impersonal. Most papers don’t even print hiring ads and online services will only allow you to send a resumé via email, making the hunt for a job an entirely impersonal prospect. To employers, you’re just so much information on a page, competing for hire with other faceless packets of data. So how can you form a strategy that will bring you gainful employment?
Of course, the easiest route is to sign up for one of the many free websites that offers job searching, from Monster to Career Builder and even Craig’s List and MyOnlineCareerSpace.com. Although these sites offer easy access, as they’re geared for use by the common every-man, the jobs listed will most likely be low quality and you will be competing with any other jobless sucker with a computer.
Still, if you’re specialized enough, you may find something worthwhile occasionally. The real trick to succeeding in this arena is to find a way to make yourself stand out, whether it’s with an off-the-wall cover letter or by having some strange and useful skills. Then there are job sites that require payment (usually on a monthly or yearly membership basis). This is definitely a way to do a more targeted search, since they are usually aimed at a specific industry, and you are bound to find better paying jobs, since the companies that use them often have to pay also. But again, you are going to be up against a lot of other impersonal potential hires (albeit significantly less than on the free services). If all else fails, you could just try cold-calling local companies to see if they’re hiring.
Because it is so difficult to find work through the internet, you may want to consider going to a temp agency. In other words, turn the task over to the professionals. They will do the leg work for you, arranging interviews and such, giving you the opportunity to make a personal impression with prospective employers. And all you have to do is give up a portion of your hard-earned salary for a year (maybe less if the company hires you on sooner as an employee). If you happen to be well-schooled, have a lot of experience, or are looking for a position that is either pretty high on the corporate totem pole or extremely specialized, you can also consider using a headhunter.
However, your best bet might be to take matters into your own hands by becoming a freelance agent or a contractor. There are plenty of websites like ODesk and ELance that allow those with an entrepreneurial spirit to forge their own destiny by offering their services piecemeal. So if you have a flair for writing, graphic design, or even marketing campaigns (basically, anything that can be done online), consider the virtual world of working for yourself. The end result could be a permanent position if you fill a niche or impress the right company.
If you’re having trouble finding a job, as many people currently are, your best bet is probably a multi-pronged approach in which you utilize several search strategies to maximize your opportunities. Just don’t get burned out. And keep in mind that not every job is THE job. You don’t want to settle for something that is beneath your level of skill or your desired pay, but you may have to take something temporary while you continue to search, so be prepared to say yes even if you plan to continue the quest for the dream job.
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