Tips for Finding Work During a Recession

by Anya Jennings on October 12, 2009

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Recession, depression, down market, economic slump…no matter what spin you put on it, there is no question that this is not the best time to be in the market for a new job. With unemployment figures at an all-time high in some areas of the country, most companies are downsizing, not hiring. Surviving a slow economy requires making some really hard decisions, for companies as well as for individuals. Sometimes even for governments.


So who’s going to take home the prize and snag those few available jobs? People who make the right moves will. That means taking advantage of every possible avenue and opportunity. To enhance your job search, consider working with a professional recruiter. They often have access to connections and information unavailable to the public…and the good ones will have an established relationship with many potential employers.

Snagging a plum job is often more about who you know than how qualified you are. Education and experience are grand, but a personal introduction can open doors you may not otherwise ever get near. Jobs are often awarded before the position is even advertised, and success often lies in having access to information before it becomes public. Reputable, honest recruiters are invaluable allies for a busy hiring executive. They deliver prescreened candidates with the specific skill set defined by the company. Way more efficient than interviewing 500 random respondents from a post on Craigslist. “You were a dishwasher in your last job and you’re applying for a position as head of our IT department?

Today’s buzzword is networking, and it really is a valuable tool. It’s a great deal like personal marketing. Putting yourself out there is crucial, and can certainly help you find a job, but it may not be enough. All the networking in the world won’t help if the decision-maker isn’t chatting on Twitter or hanging out at the Better Business Bureau mixer. Professional recruiters are all about power networking. It takes time to cultivate trust with a company, and it’s the recruiter’s job to know the right people.

Another benefit to signing a professional recruiter is critical review of your CV or resume. A good recruiter really knows his stuff and will advise you about beefing up your skills, identify areas that need improvement, and suggest alternate career paths that you may qualify for. The first contact a potential employer has with you is the recruiter recommendation, followed immediately by your resume. Your recruiter will make sure it’s comprehensive and well crafted.

Before you attend your first interview, a recruiter can help you polish your interview skills. He will know what questions you can expect, and can help you craft a credible answer to difficult questions. “So, you were unemployed for nine years before your last job?” The best interview skill you can possibly have is preparedness. Let’s face it, all things being equal, personality often sways the vote.

Finding a job during a recession isn’t an easy task, so make sure you find a qualified recruiter. They aren’t all equal, and they aren’t all qualified. Check their credentials. Find out how long they’ve been with the company, how long the company has been in business, and what kind of track record they have. If possible, talk to other people who have used the services of your potential recruiter. Be proactive. You need someone you can trust, because you’ll be giving him an awful lot of personal information, and your future may well be in his hands.

The best way to help your recruiter find the right job for you is to be honest and open. The more accurate info the recruiter has, the better chance you have of getting past the interview stage.

My last piece of advice is simple. Stay in touch. Make sure your recruiter is up to date on your status, and follow-up on any interviews or meetings you attend. If you’re making any crucial mistakes during interviews, a chat with your recruiter may identify and correct them. As I mentioned before, sometimes it comes down to personality. Your recruiter can advise you if you’re an annoying fidgeter or if your handshake is limp and damp. The devil (and the job) is in the details.

Finally, try to remember that finding a decent job in a recession economy is a challenge for anyone. Be patient. If you’re working, stay put until you’ve found a replacement job. If you’re not, don’t wait until your unemployment runs out before starting a job search. The right job for you will come up, but it may take time.  Being unemployed is a good opportunity to learn some new skills, right? And maybe work on controlling that nervous tic.

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