How to job hunt during a recession

A recession doesn't mean that you'll never, ever get a new job, say hiring experts, only that it may take longer and require you to sell yourself differently. Here are some of their tips.

Hopefully, it won't come to this.
Between rounds and rounds of layoffs and further devaluation of retirement portfolios, you don't need to look far to find dismal employment news out there these days. The job market outlook isn't much better, as slumped job growth is affecting skilled workers in- and outside of the credit sector. It is no wonder that many who were interested in finding a new job this fall have put their search on hold until more of the dust settles.

But is this really necessary? A recession doesn't mean that you'll never, ever get a new job, say hiring experts, only that it may take longer and require you to sell yourself differently. Here are some of their tips:

Don't assume the worst about the IT job market.

Curt Sterling, partner at The Cydio Group in San Diego, an IT Staffing firm says that IT growth has actually increased in the past couple quarters, despite what the overall markets might reflect.

"A lot of industries are upgrading their IT infrastructure, and IT budgets should actually grow into 1st quarter of 2009. So in short, I would advise people in IT to keep their nose to the grindstone and push for the position they are seeking because the opportunities are out there," said Sterling.

Get back to basics.

Stuart McGill, Chief Technology Officer, Micro Focus, a provider of enterprise application management tells IT job-seekers that the demand for COBOL skills is rising, not declining.

"This underlines the importance of maintaining and modernizing core IT systems in enterprises worldwide. Especially in light of the current economic climate, enterprises must extend the value of their existing IT assets. Successful organizations will be those able to hire graduates familiar with key programming languages at the heart of today’s enterprise systems, such as COBOL," said McGill.

Change your focus.

Job seekers should start by shifting their question from "What's in it for me?" to "What's in it for them?" explains Joe Turner for the Vault, a job board geared to students and young professionals.

"Especially in an economic downturn, you'll want to stay focused on what you can accomplish for your next employer. Show them that you understand the macroeconomic "bigger picture" of the role you play in moving the company forward," explains Turner.

Don't rule out part-time or freelance work.

It may not be ideal, but sometimes lining up multiple part-time positions can make it easier to turn one into full-time work within a company. RachelWeingarten, author of "Career and Corporate Cool," told CNN that she recommends job sharing or taking over for someone on maternity leave or during the holiday crunch.

"A lot of people don't want to commit full-time skills to a part-time or temporary gig. In this economy though, it can allow you to not only try on a job for size, but to also improve your skills, impress a potential long-term employer and network like crazy with people in your chosen industry," said Weingarten. "Instead of nervously waiting for the right full-time career, you can potentially make something better happen in the short term."

Network, network, network

Suggesting that a job-seeker network may seem out the outset like overused advice, but the truth is that despite the fact that it is often the missing link in a job hunt, most workers are still loath to ask acquaintances for help.

"When I give presentations, I ask the audience, 'by show of hands, how many of you have spoken to the people you are going to list as references in the past year?' You would be shocked to see how few hands are raised, if any. In all my years as a professional in my industry, I’ve not had to apply for a new position because of the network of people I’ve built," said Joy Goberville, managing director at Technisource in Southeast Michigan, an IT staffing firm.


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