Re-Energizing a Stale Job Search

Today’s economic conditions have made the job market more competitive. But when days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months, your frustration can grow and your enthusiasm and motivation can wane. Instead of allowing yourself to fall victim to inertia, take a close look at your job-search process to determine where you could make improvements. Here are a few suggestions:

•  Revisit old possibilities. Think about any employment interviews you’ve had. Although you didn’t receive an offer, if the meeting went well, there’s a possibility the door has not closed completely. While many businesses are tightening their belts in this economy, some continue to hire, and those could include companies that you’ve met with already.

Also, the person hired for a position you applied for may not have worked out. Contact the hiring managers you interviewed with to express your continued interest and to find out if any new openings exist. You never know what may have changed since you were last in touch.

•  Widen your search. Chances are you’ve turned to the Internet for job leads. If so, surf beyond the bigger sites. These job boards may contain the most listings, but the postings you find often aren’t as targeted as ones from Web sites that focus on a specific industry or geographic area. Reading technology publications or perusing online message boards can clue you in to the hottest specialties and growing segments of IT.

Also, don’t make the mistake of looking at only those positions that have been posted in the past week or two. An opportunity from a couple of months ago might still be available, especially if the role requires hard-to-find skills. A dated online job advertisement doesn’t reflect the quality of the company or the potential desirability of the position.

•  Expand your network. Resumes from referrals often land near the top of the pile, so the more people you know who can recommend you for a position, the better. Of course, if your network consists only of friends and family, you’re putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage. Reach out to former co-workers and managers, your business contacts and high school and college alumni. Another great way to expand your network is through Web sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

•  Educate yourself. If jobs that interest you require a skill or certificate you lack, consider attending a seminar or taking a class online or at a local university to enhance your skill set. For example, if you’re a database administrator who doesn’t have a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator certification, you probably are limiting the number of positions for which you can apply.

According to the “Robert Half Technology 2009 Salary Guide,” there will be particular demand in the year ahead for IT professionals with Web 2.0 development skills and those with knowledge of Microsoft .NET, SQL Server, SharePoint or Java.

•  Consider a staffing firm. Staffing professionals have their own networks of business contacts, as well as knowledge of positions that aren’t widely advertised. They also can offer assistance with your application materials and provide training opportunities. In addition, these firms can find you contract positions while you search for a full-time job or an interim assignment that could lead to a full-time role.

If you’ve become frustrated with finding a job, keep in mind that highly skilled individuals always are in demand, no matter the market conditions. By using the above techniques, you’ll help cement your status as one of those sought-after candidates — and increase your chances of connecting with employers who are looking for someone like you.

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. She can be reached at editor (at) certmag (dot) com.

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Katherine Lee

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