Compiled by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Page 4: Advice from career experts on how workers and job-seekers can take proactive stance to improve their jobs and careers, even in tough economic climate.
On this page, tips for marketing and differentiating yourself, becoming a free agent, and adjusting your mindset while taking action.
Return to main page of Attacking the Job Market and Workplace Proactively in Tough Times.
Market and Differentiate Yourself
Identify and clarify “portable value” that isn’t tied to an industry or function. Portable value says “Here’s what I do, how I do it, what it’s delivered to my companies. I can do it for you, too.” Dig to get to the foundation of what you do, prove the ROI of what happened when you did it, show how it can work anywhere, and you’re ready to out-compete, even in another industry. For example, if you can tweak something that is already working well and at very little cost enable it to save more money or deliver more revenue — that’s a portable value proposition. If you can do it in only one industry, it’s not. Chances that you will need to transition from your current field are strong. Portable value helps you do it.
- — Deb Dib, the CEO Coach,
Market yourself as an expert, and here is why: Marketing yourself as an expert is one of the smartest approaches to job hunting you can take any time but especially in a tight job market. Experts, after all, have something hiring managers want: knowledge, skills, and expertise. Job hunters want something: namely, a job. When you establish yourself as an expert, you validate your credibility and increase your desirability. Unfortunately most individuals in the job market never stop to determine their areas of expertise and in fact don’t think of themselves in those terms. Instead they plunge into the job hunt with the simple objective to “get a job, any job.” [To read the rest of this advice, go to the WorkWise Web site and click on Expert or Job Seeker? You Decide.]
- — Mary Jeanne Vincent of WorkWise, who has two no-cost Special Reports to share with readers: Recession-Proof Your Career: Strategies for Thriving in Challenging Times and I’ve Been Laid Off, Now What: Strategies for Retaining Control of Your Career During Difficult Times.
- her for more information.
Collect testimonials. Find people who have benefited from your work — other departments, vendors, your immediate area. Ask people to email you some positive feedback about how your work benefited them. Do the same for others, by the way, to develop allies. The testimonials are a great way to make a tangible case for your value if your job does come into question; they provide ammunition for a raise or promotion discussion; and if you have to leave, they provide good references. Plus, the very act of collecting the testimonials forces you to reconnect with your different constituencies, strengthening your network and therefore strengthening your career foundation.
- — Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of
- , a career-coaching firm that specializes in working with Gen Y young professionals.
Find a way to demonstrate expertise online now and to start doing it consistently. For example:
- Start a blog and become an authority blogger in your profession.
- Build a good profile answering professional questions on popular industry forums, blogs and/or social networks such as LinkedIn.
- Create a YouTube channel, personal radio station or podcast about your profession.
- Write articles for sites like Squidoo, HubPages, Ezine Articles, etc.
Of course, doing a combination of these activities works even better and can result in growing a network and creating positive information about you to be found in search-engine results.
- — Jacob Share,
Brainstorm ways in which your unique talents, abilities, and accomplishments could be re-packaged to meet the demands of planned layoffs and unplanned employee turnover. Enlarge the scope of who you are and target the voids/problems you have identified that you are uniquely qualified to successfully resolve solo or with a carefully assembled team. Do this by:
- Becoming really clear about who you are
- Identifying your moments of greatest work satisfaction; you will communicate these moments with confidence and a smile on your face
- Picking your best strengths/skills and crafting your value-added story around it
- Becoming the person that others would go out of their way for
— Gladys Kartin, Career Strategies and Coaching, Assessments, Interview Coaching, Resume Review
Do something different from everyone else! Be contrarian. Everyone else (95 percent of job-seekers) will be looking to see what other opportunities are available through front-door means (e.g., ads, online job boards, headhunters, etc.). The best way to ensure your ongoing job security, in bad times and good, is to always build and nurture a career tribe through back-door means, which means building relationships outside of needing a job. If you currently need a job, that’s fine…you just can’t use that to meet people, because they won’t meet you! Nobody wants to be put in a position to possibly have to say “no.” You have to find reasons, such as research projects, to create the necessary willingness for people to meet you. … This method is not about tricking anyone and done well, can serve as the door opener to opportunities and entire career changes you would have never imagined. I know; I’ve done it and taught it for years!
- — Darrell W. Gurney, Chief Messenger of Opportunity and Purveyor of Possibility at
- and author of
Headhunters Revealed! Career Secrets for Choosing and Using Professional Recruiters
Know and be able to concisely communicate your unique value and how it benefits your current or future employer. Whether that value is a unusual work history, a rare combination of strengths and attributes or a personal quality or expertise that can contribute to your employer’s success, make sure the people who can most influence your current career needs are aware so it is clear that you are the only real candidate for the job.
- — Francine LaMarr,
Think and talk in terms of Return-on-Investment. View yourself as a mini-profit and loss center for an employer. Be prepared to talk the language of money and demonstrate ways you have helped to positively impact the bottom line of your past or current employer — which means demonstrating ways you’ve helped make money or save money for your employer or its clients. As employees, we all touch money, though some of us may be closer to it than others. All of us must find ways to prove that we make or save money and be ready to indicate that in short sound bites when we get the opportunity. Don’t let all the hype about the economy spook you into a state of panic and inaction. By revising your tactics to include a more solution-selling approach to employers, you stand a better chance of getting hired in today’s faltering economy.
- — Joe Turner, “The Job Search Guy,” Swenson Turner, Inc.,
Consider Becoming a Free Agent
With the economy hitting an all-time low, and fears of recession and joblessness increasing, people are scrambling for alternate ways to generate income. One way people are combating these fears is through outsourcing — in essense freelancing their Web, IT, or tech background to buyers all around the world. [If you] have marketable skills in Web design, IT, writing, software development, use this uncertain time as an opportunity to create job security by launching your own business as an outside resource for small and medium businesses, and even larger enterprises.
- — George Searle, Chief Executive Officer,
Adjust your Mindset, Fight Fear, and Take Action
Maintain a sense of well being and confidence in yourself and in your professional expertise. You are marketing your being as well as your doing. Nothing turns interviewers (HR and others) off faster then a candidate who projects an air of defeat. Dedicating time each day for activities that help you feel good about you will help you be confident and passionate about what you have to offer. All other traditional job-search advice still applies, such as networking (including going to meetings where people who would hire you go), having a crisp message about why should the company hire you, doing your homework so you can present your expertise as directly contributing to what they most need, now.
- — Mira A. Furth, M.Ed., Intelligent Leadership Enterprises
Follow your passion. You know you’ve found the right job when work doesn’t feel like work. Job-seekers need to approach a job search with an adventurous attitude. Visualize your next position exposing you to new and energizing opportunities. Have fun with the possibilities. Put time into the job search, and your job won’t seem like work.
- — Dan Dugan, Human Resources Manager, Service Corporation International
Generally, when people are unemployed or fearful of losing their jobs, they become mildly depressed – especially if they have been laid off or think they will be laid off. This depression is due to learned helplessness — the idea that their actions cannot make a difference; they cannot win because of forces such as the economy, the government, etc. It is a special type of fear that inflicts people who have been traumatized. Spend your unemployed time reversing your learned helplessness so you can turn yourself into a person of action again.
- — Lisa Lane Brown mental-toughness expert and career coach who specializes in relationships and friendships, and author of
Courage to Win: A Revolutionary Mental Toughness Formula
Focus on opportunities, rather than putting energy into fearing what might happen. Create lists of employers that you want to research, people you’d love to network with, accomplishments you’ve achieved in the last 60 days. Then think of 3 positive steps you can take now to move you closer to your career goals, regardless of the economy. As Franklin Roosevelt said, “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself.”
- — Katy Piotrowski, M.Ed., Career Counselor, Career Solutions Group, Author,
The Career Coward’s Guides
Stop taking a passive approach to job hunting. Now is not the time to make your computer your best friend and just apply to online job postings. Instead reach out every day to someone new and set up a time to meet in person, grab lunch, or talk on the phone. Opportunities exist, and the best way to find them is through other people. People help people they like and for people to be able to like you they need to get to know you. Focus on building mutually beneficial relationships and become a part of the circle of support that exists out there.
- , Career Coach based in NY, and author of the forthcoming book,
Step into the Right Career
After having done everything you can do, rest in the “provision principle,” a belief system that says “I have everything I need” and helps you to manage your mindset so that it’s positive and open to opportunities. It’s important to discern the difference between needs and wants, of course. Further, it’s important to recognize that provision for our needs is sometimes delivered in packages different than what we expect, so keep your eyes (and heart) open!
- — Susan Whitcomb, author of
Job Search Magic
- ; president of Career Coach Academy
Return to main page of Attacking the Job Market and Workplace Proactively in Tough Times.
See also these Job-Hunting During a Recession Articles for Job-Seekers.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.