Planning Ahead - April 1, 2009

Finding employment in tough times

Bob CondronMarch 31, 2009 

Bob Condron, CFP, MSFS, is a registered representative of Bridge Financial Partners. He can be reached at 548-8875 or bcondron@bridgefp.com.

South Carolina State officials recently reported that unem-ployment in York County reached 12.9 percent in January. For many individuals, this may be the first time they have had to seek employment. With that in mind, I contacted Tanya Calkins, president and owner of SourceAbility Inc. (www.sourceabilityinc.com), a Charlotte-based recruiting firm. I asked Calkins to assist me in writing a column that would be helpful to those looking for work.

The job market is difficult right now, but opportunities are still available. According to Calkins, "Information technology and sales-related positions are still in demand by employers. Any position that can reduce costs or generate revenue for a company is still of value to an organization."

Let's start with finding opportunities. Calkins told me that Web sites such as www.indeed.com and www.simplyhired.com are "aggregators" that search online job boards and deliver key word results to one site, eliminating the need to visit multiple sites. Job fairs are also an opportunity to find out who is hiring and meet hiring authorities face to face.

With competition for any openings you need to stand out in the crowd. Calkins said "networking is still the single best way to find a new job. Knowing someone who can place your name in front of the person doing the hiring has the greatest chance for success."

Getting out and meeting people, talking with friends and neighbors, as well as attending local events, is still the best source of information.

Your resume is the first piece of information that someone will review. In the past, a standard resume would state an objective and a list of past employment.

Calkins' advice was, "Target your resume for the specific job and employer you are applying to. Replace the objective with a summary that highlights your skills and accomplishments that uniquely match the job you are applying for. The information in the first half of the first page needs to stand out. Be sure to quantify your successes. It is no longer enough to say you increased sales. You need to state that you 'grew sales by 30 percent each year.' "

Today, it is easier than ever to find information about a company and a person on the Web. This works both ways. You can research the company you are applying to, and should. Just as likely, the company is going to research you. Take a look at your online profile (Facebook or Myspace). Listen to your answering machine or the "on hold" music for your cell phone. Consider what e-mail address you are using. All of these project an image of you that may impact the hiring decision.

Lastly, sharpen your interview skills and thoroughly prepare. Know about the company and position you are applying for and have solid examples ready to discuss that demonstrate your ability to make a difference if hired.

Today more than ever, I remember the words of Calvin Coolidge: "Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Be persistent and "Press On."

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