Q. I am not doing very well looking for a job, and I know I need help to make it happen. There are lots of career counseling companies and ‘get-a-job’ books, and there seem to be too many places online to find real help. What works? I don’t have a lot of money and I need a job.
A. The world of job search is a huge challenge right now for all levels of job seekers. The US Department of Labor says there are six job seekers for each available job, which means you need to be skilled not only at finding the job opportunities, but at competing for the limited number of jobs available as well.
You will be best prepared if you have multiple targets and a broad view of the kinds of positions you are capable of filling. This is true whether you are an executive or an hourly worker. Also, do not take for granted any interaction you have representing yourself as a job seeker whether it is in your cover letter or in an actual interview.
There are many places to get job search support, and they range in cost from free to thousands of dollars, with many price points in between. Consider all state services through the unemployment offices (in your state), and one stop career centers. Start with www.Mass.gov, and then click on “jobs and employment”. You’ll see the Division of Career Services section, where there is information about seminars to support your job search activities, in addition to a job bank so that you can do a keyword search to find openings. Maximize your use of these resources. Employers are encouraged to list jobs here in addition to private search listings.
If you have a college degree, return to your college or university alumni and career services office – in person, by phone or online. Many have job newsletters with lists of current openings, and will meet with you individually to help you improve your job search efforts. Also, your fellow alumni who are in a position to hire will often go to the career services and alumni relations offices to post the position before doing so on large job boards.
If you have been given outplacement support from the organization you are leaving or have left, take advantage of these services. They are provided at no cost to you and can be used for all aspects of the job search, from targeting opportunities to writing resumes, interview trainings, and finding real opportunities. All of these services are designed to make you more competitive in the job market.
You might also look for an independent career counselor. Referrals are most often the most successful way to identify professionals who perform this kind of work. Some work with outplacement firms part time, and keep a private practice as well. There are many sites including www.ncda.org, The National Career Development Association, or www.acpi.org, Association of Career Management Professionals International.
The most recent market entry to support job seekers involves online support. Here, too, there are many types of organizations offering job search help at a variety of price points. You may start with the larger job board sites, but there are others. Outplacement firms have utilized technology to support the job seekers they work with, and all research points to the fact that the most valuable part of this support is the strategic work with the consultant. Technology can streamline the process, but it is not intended to replace the individual work that proves so valuable to participants. Some sites that provide technology and access to live consultants include: www.careerplanner.com, www.powermycareer.com, www.quintcareers.com and
You will need to evaluate each of these service types and service providers so that you clearly know what will be provided, and in what time frame. Finding a new opportunity is challenging in the best of times, and involves a huge commitment on your part – no matter what someone may try to sell you.