How To Win In a Tough Job Market [5 Practical Ways]

OK, you are looking for a new role – maybe still looking since last year. Here are some ideas that I hope will help you to stay focused. Some of this may come across as a little glib but I really don’t mean it that way so stay with it and I hope you will find this practical and helpful:

1) Smile – it could be a lot worse!

By: Rory MacLeod

No I don’t mean to trivialise the challenges of any job search, let alone one in a tight market – been there myself a few times. But if you step back for a moment and take a somewhat bigger picture view, for most of us will acknowledge that there are many people – even right here in our own city – who are far worse off than we are. Count your blessings? Yes, that’s not a bad idea sometimes, to get a bit of perspective and remain grateful for the ways we have been blessed. Research seems to shows that if you smile more it helps you to feel more relaxed, less stressed. You will also probably come across to others as more likeable = hireable!

2) Get over it and get on with it!

There’s lots of negative press around, gloomy economic analysis and predictions, declining volume of advertised jobs etc. etc. Well, you can choose to be negatively affected by this or you can choose to tune out at least some of this noise and not let it influence your own internal ‘chatter’. Not suggesting you ignore reality – far from it – but the more you tell yourself things are bad the worse they will seem to be. That has a tendency to impact your confidence and your energy level needed to get on with the job search. So, start with the assumption that you will (eventually) find a good role, put your plan together, get help if you need it – and get busy. As Richard Branson said in a recent post on entrepreneurship – now is the time to do!

3) Be seen and be heard

Do whatever you can to raise your professional profile. Work on your social media strategy and presence; participate in relevant online forums; write articles on your areas of expertise and work on getting them published; look for organisers of conferences and industry functions who may be looking for speakers or group facilitators; hey, why not start a blog?! And remember to keep growing your face-to-face network, building relationships with people who could potentially advocate for you.

4) Get a grip on reality

In these market conditions you may have to accept the possibility that the “perfect” role may not be available to you – or at least that it may be quite a long time before you find it; you may also have to re-calibrate your salary expectations. At times like these employers tend to be less flexible, more cost conscious and operate from the view that it is largely a buyer’s market – in their favour.  Do you have the financial resources and emotional resilience to ride this out? I would always encourage you to stay true to your longer term goals and make sure that whatever role you ultimately accept makes sense to the market when you are preparing for your next move. But you may have to temper your aspirations to land that ideal job with a “good interim decision” – or at least be able to give a sensible account of what you have done with your time and how you have continued to make a contribution during a protracted job search

5) Keep at it – persistence pays

Never, ever give up on growing your network. The very next person you speak to could be the one who creates the lead to an amazing job. What if you never met them because you stopped? You may well need occasional periods of downtime to rest and refresh. Hunting for a job looking tired and desperate is never going to be productive – but stay in the game. Keep watching the advertised roles and putting in targeted, tailored applications; stay in touch (without stalking!) with a smallish number of recruiters who are very active in your field; network, network, network.

Often the best opportunities are “right under your nose”.

By Gavin Lister

Gavin Lister is an executive career coach who guides senior leaders through transition. A former recruiter and manager, he is dedicated to helping clients articulate and communicate their "special edge" in a competitive marketplace.