First Person: Landing a Job When You're Unemployed Longer Than 6 Months? It's Possible

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In 2008, the United States entered a recession deep enough for the history books. Millions of people found themselves out of work, and millions are still out of work. Some have given up hope of ever finding another job. Others are still struggling and have been unemployed for six months or longer.

Since I have a master's degree in Human Resources Development, I'm often asked to look over resumes and critique job searches. I'm also asked for job search advice. This is the advice that I give job hunters.

Stop Applying For Everything

Do not apply for every job on the market. There are individuals out there who send out hundreds of resumes a week. That is not an effective job search. You might as well rent a plane and a pilot and toss hundreds of copies of your resume out the window because that's essential what you're doing.

When I search for a job, I look for specific jobs. Generally, I am looking for training positions and retail and office management positions. In a pinch, I can also apply for IT help desk positions, but those three areas are it. I'm not specifically skilled in any other areas, so it's a waste of my time and the company's time if I apply for anything else.

Pick Companies

When I apply for jobs, I start with companies. I choose three or four companies that I think I'd like to work for and research them. I look at where they are located and every page on their website. I even read the sections for investors. If I can find people who work for those companies or who have worked for those companies in the past, I talk to them as well. This is because I want to know everything about the company before I ever send in an application. It doesn't do me any good to submit an application to a company that may not be a good fit for my background and personality.

If I want a job at a retail store, I visit one or more of the stores. This is so that I can get a feel for the work environment. I want to know if the store is clean. I want to know if the employees are friendly. I also want to see how management interacts with their employees and how the customers are treated. If I don't like what I see, I don't apply to that retail chain.

Specifically Tailor Each Resume

When I finally apply for the companies and jobs I've selected, I tailor each individual resume. I want my resume to be a response to the job ad. Essentially a job ad is a question. Can you fill this position? I want my resume to state that I can fill the position.

I print off each job ad and open a word processing program. For each job ad, I make sure that my resume answers all the questions. If the job requires a four year degree, I state that I have a four year degree. If the job wants specific experience, I make sure I have that experience listed on my resume and that it's accurate with my personal experience.

Finally, I look for potential keywords. Many employers use filtering programs to weed out resumes. This means that not every resume reaches a set of human eyes, and I want my resume to be seen by someone in HR. Potential keywords in a retail management position might include "sales goals," "marketing," "five years experience" and "customer service." Those are all words that I want to have specifically stated in my resume.

When I follow this advice, I get more calls for interviews and land more job offers. This advice is how I landed an assistant manager position with Walgreens. It's how I landed a sales job with Coca-Cola Enterprises. It's how I landed an assistant manager position working for a gift shop, and it's the exact same advice that I give everyone who asks me for job search advice.

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