Perfect Your Job-Searching Skills
Job applicant
If you're searching for a job when the economy is down, understand that you need to boost your job-hunting skills, author Richard Bolles says. "Jobs do open up; jobs do fall vacant—maybe not in your former specialty, maybe not even in your geographical area, but nonetheless there are jobs out there, even during hard times," he says. "It just takes greater job-hunting skills to find them."

Richard, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? 2009: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers, shares advice on how to search for a job and have a good interview when economic times are tough.
Woman using laptop
To develop better job-hunting skills, start by assuming that the task of finding a new job is yours, Richard says. "You are in charge," he says. "Don't wait for the government—or anyone else—to come and save you."
Woman on cell phone
Have the willingness to work hard at your job hunt. "Don't just give it 'a lick and a promise' and then give up," Richard says. "Working hard means putting in time—lots of time. This also means using more than one job-hunting method to find those jobs that are out there."
Woman writing
Take the time to do an inventory on yourself, Richard says. Make a list of what you have to offer to the marketplace. If you think you know yourself so well that you don't need to do this kind of homework on yourself, think again, he says.
Woman researching
Update your knowledge. "Go beyond what you learned about the job hunt back in high school or, worse, out 'on the street,'" Richard says. "The job hunt is one of the most studied human activities there is. You've just got to familiarize yourself with that research. The life you save will be your own."
Woman discussing her resume
Research the specific position. If you do this before you go on the interview, you'll be able to talk about why the job interests you, Richard says. Also, ask about what kinds of skills the job demands. Try to talk about how you have those skills and experience. "In the old days, it was sufficient for you just to claim certain skills; now, in what are called 'behavioral interviews,' employers want you to give evidence," Richard says. "You should do this in the form of a story, or stories, which have the framework: problem, action, results."
Woman listening
Gauge how well the interview is going. You can tell if an interview is going well by watching the time sequence of the employer's questions, Richard says. If the interviewer's questions stay rooted in the past, like "Tell me what you've done," then things have not gone well, he says. If the questions end up being mostly rooted in the present, for example, "What are your favorite hobbies," things are going better, Richard says. Only when they end up being firmly rooted in the future, like, "Where do you see yourself five years from now?" can you assume the interview is going very well, he says.
Two businesswomen shaking hands
End the interview appropriately. If you decide you're definitely interested in the job and the interview has gone well, Richard says to end the interview by asking, "Based on all that we've talked about, can you offer me this job?" "The worst they can say is 'No' or 'Not yet,'" he says. "But it's amazing how often that closing question of yours turns the interviewer from 'I'll call you next week' to 'Yes, I do want to offer it to you—when could you start?'"

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