by Cherie Berkley, PayScale.com, Yahoo! HotJobs
Just when you thought the job market couldn’t get worse, there is more
news about company pink slips, hiring freezes, and benefit slashes. If
you are one of the thousands tasked to find a job in these dire
economic times, all is not lost. Hopefully, you can move more quickly
from the unemployment line to a job offer once you get past these six
common myths about job-hunting during a recession.
Myth 1: No one is hiring.
Layoffs are coming in every direction, but some employers — even
those laying off workers — are still hiring. Companies often
eliminate full-time employees with budget-busting benefits only to
replace them with contractors or consultants to save costs.
Additionally, “green” jobs, and health care jobs are among those still
actively populating want ads. And, the pay is respectable. For
instance, Payscale.com shows the median annual salary of an
environmental engineer with 3-5 years experience is $60,672.
Myth 2: The Internet is the best place to find jobs.
The Internet is an efficient way to survey jobs among many companies,
but personal interaction is still key to job search success. Truth is,
employers are bombarded with thousands of resumes from the Internet —
especially in a recession. Therefore, the chance that your new boss
will choose your resume out of a pile of prospects is slimmer than
ever. Instead, focus on finding a position, apply for it, and then do
some research and connect personally with a hiring manager in the
company to follow-up. Social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, also
offer a great way to connect with targeted employees on your company
dream list. These connections are golden because they can give you
insider info about unpublished positions and help you sail past HR
“blockers.” Personal recommendations go much farther in landing a job
than random resumes.
Myth 3: Searching companies in hiring freezes is a waste of time.
Like many situations in life, hiring freezes are not absolute. Savvy
networking, the right face-to-face meeting, and the ability to sell
skills critical to the prospective company can be the perfect formula
for lighting a fire under an employer in a hiring freeze. Behind
closed doors, hiring managers are told to make exceptions for
spectacular candidates that can show them the money, especially in a
recession when every dollar counts.
Myth 4: Expect a salary cut.
In hard times, companies value astute problem-solvers more than ever.
While employers may trim the fat elsewhere, there is always room in
the budget for top-tier talent. However, during a competitive job
market, there is a bigger burden to prove you are worth a higher
salary, says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Ultimately, companies want their talent investments to pay off — and
stick around. “If an employer goes to the expense, time, and effort to
find a qualified candidate, it wants the person to stay, ” Challenger
adds. The last thing an employer wants is for a prized candidate to
temporarily accept a lower salary than her previous salary and say
“hasta la vista” once the job market recovers.
Myth 5: Companies are not interested in hiring people over age 55.
There are several reasons Challenger, Gray & Christmas disputes the
adage that older employees are unemployable. In a struggling economy,
employers value seasoned workers’ shorter learning curves (aka: less
money invested in employee training) and their ability to do the work
of several younger, less-seasoned workers. Separately, like a fine
wine, experienced employees who are surgeons, accountants, attorneys,
engineers, and IT professionals get better with time. Clients
gravitate to more experienced employees in these professions. This
adds up to more cha-ching for employers.
Myth 6: Experience and advanced degrees guarantee a job.
While experience and education have their plusses, they aren’t
guarantees to landing a job. In a deep recession, experienced and
degreed people come a dime a dozen. “It is very important to sell your
world experience, your concrete accomplishments, and expertise; things
that make an impact on the company rather than just your knowledge,”
Challenger says. Research what skills the employer values most in
order to tailor your sales pitch accordingly, Challenger adds. And,
because the market is so tight, though you are experienced, someone
with more experience is likely applying for the same job. Take time to
create your brand image and sell, sell, sell!
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