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The national unemployment rate is still north of 7.5 percent, meaning more than 12 million Americans are out of work.
That’s a lot of people who could be looking for the same job you are. With online job listings for every business, not to mention sites for every occupation, specialization, or generalization, it’s hard to cover all the online bases, much less have any idea if anyone is looking at your application after you click “submit.”
While we don’t support staying off the Internet (how else will you read us?), there are lots of ways to get recognized by companies without searching endless Web pages.
We’ll start with a video Money Talks founder Stacy Johnson did about working free. It’s a few years old, but still applies. Check it out, then read on…
Now, let’s explore some additional tips…
1. Keep your ear to the ground and your resume at the ready
Even if you have a job and aren’t in the market for a new one, you should keep your resume ready. It only takes a few minutes to add new skills and update work responsibilities. If your title has changed or you got a promotion, add that too.
Check out 10 Tips to Writing a Resume Better Than Yahoo’s CEO for some modern ways to write a resume. Then read 12 Totally Ridiculous Resume Mistakes and make sure your resume doesn’t feature any.
If you’re out of work, ABL: Always be looking. A party, a store, church – you never know when you may encounter someone who might help. Think of everyone as a potential job source and be ready with your resume.
2. Have a pitch
Can you explain who you are and what you want to do in less than 10 seconds? For example, here’s my pitch: I’m Dori. I write about personal finance for MoneyTalksNews.com.
The purpose is to get the person you’re pitching to immediately begin thinking about how you’d fit in their organization. When I use my pitch, I’m trying to invite questions like, “What have you covered?” and “Have you heard of my company?” Then, hopefully, they’ll say something like, “I’m looking for a writer,” or “I have a friend looking for a writer.”
Nobody wants to listen to a drawn-out explanation. Imagine you’re pitching a fifth grader: Boil it down, spice it up, and communicate it effectively.
The more people you know, the more potential job contacts you have. The more contacts you have, the sooner you’ll find work.
Get to know everyone, not by pitching yourself, but simply being nice. Help a neighbor with groceries or offer to house sit when they go out of town. They could have a friend who wants to hire someone but doesn’t want to broadcast it.
Many professions have organizations that meet once a month. Join, attend, shake lots of hands, and practice your pitch. And if there’s no professional organization to join, there are plenty of civic ones, like Rotary or Kiwanis.
4. Cruise your neighborhood
Scour the flyers on boards in your apartment building, coffee shop, even grocery store. One thing communities still do is support their community. And if you’re an employer with an opening, post it in these places. A little more hassle, perhaps, but at least you’ll avoid spam.
5. Remember the little guys
Sure, all your friends are on Facebook – and if you feel comfortable doing it, no harm in spreading the word there. But there’s also no harm reconnecting with old work or school contacts one-on-one.
A few years ago a friend of mine found a job through one of her favorite teachers who knew an employer that was looking. Old college professors, former employers, even people you went to school with might know something you don’t.
An old college adviser told me to always leave on good terms so you can use old bosses as references later on. Keep in touch: They may know of jobs at other companies, or new ones at theirs.
6. Work for free
As Stacy said in the video above, while working free isn’t the best scenario, it could lead to a job.
When I graduated from college, I started a food blog, making basically nothing. But because of that, I got an offer to freelance for a local alternative weekly newspaper and blog about food. Eventually that led to working for Money Talks.
While you obviously don’t want to be taken advantage of, working without pay can be better than nothing. If nothing else, it shows dedication to a potential future employer.
7. Hang out at your local employment office
While it may seem counter-intuitive to join an office filled with unemployed people, this should be a regular stop for several reasons.
First, you’ll be getting out of the house. Next, you’ll be meeting people in the same situation you’re in. This is not only spiritually uplifting: Make a few friends, and when they get a job, they might find a place for you as well. Most important, your local workforce office has a ton of resources to help you land a job, from training on resume writing and interviewing to actual job postings.
Can you get a lot of the same info online? Sure. But why not stop by in person?
8. Work temporarily
There are plenty of employers looking for someone to work for a few weeks or a few months. Job placement agencies – like Kelly Services and Manpower – can help you connect with them. Not only will this get some money coming in, but a lot of temporary jobs become permanent.
If you insist on the Internet…
Facebook is a great place to start. A Jobvite survey says the social networking site helped more than 18 million people find a job last year. Check out LinkedIn as well. On it you’ll find old colleagues, college classmates, and potential employers who might help you find a job. If you don’t have a profile there, create one and start networking. Twitter is also worth exploring.
Have you found a job in a non-traditional way? Tell us on our Facebook page.