Roy Cohen, a professional career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide," has two words of advice for job seekers: Embrace rejection. Cohen, who has been helping individuals find work for more than 20 years, recognizes that rejection never feels good. But to be successful in this job market, you have to put yourself out there, he argues.
“My measure of a really great job search is getting rejected a lot,” he says in an interview with The Daily Ticker. “The reality is more activity means more rejection. We live and work in a world now where there is constant rejection. You’ve got to get tough.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the May employment report on Friday. In April the U.S. economy added 165,000 jobs. Nearly 12 million people were unemployed in April; of that group 37.4% or 4.4 million individuals were “long-term unemployed,” which the BLS defines as jobless for at least 27 weeks. As of March there were more than 3 million Americans who have been unemployed for at least a year.
Williams Dickens, a professor of economics and social policy at Northeastern University in Boston, and PhD candidate Rand Ghayad recently published a groundbreaking report on the plight of the long-term unemployed. They sent out 4,800 fictitious resumes to 600 jobs. The level of experience and employment history varied for each candidate but all were male and had similar educational backgrounds. Individuals who had been out of work for less than six months received the highest number of callbacks; applicants who had been out of work the longest, but were more qualified for a position, would rarely get an interview. This experiment by Dickens and Ghayad underscores the challenges in the labor market today.
Cohen says unemployed individuals can take several steps to improve their chances of getting a job. If someone has been out of work for several months or years, employers will want to see that the job candidate has been productive during his or her time off. Get certified, take classes, learn a new language or volunteer in an industry that’s relevant, Cohen recommends.
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Networking has always been a crucial element in the job search process but individuals need to ramp up their activity level, Cohen insists.
“In the job search you’ve got to be everywhere at once," he says. “Clients tell me ‘The job search is much more rigorous and demanding than actually working on the job.’”
Networking involves contacting former colleagues, family friends and neighbors for job connections but also “surrounding” the companies you want to work for, Cohen says. Get the names and emails of hiring managers and ask for informational interviews. Most importantly, job seekers should not spend hours perfecting a generic resume, Cohen advises.
“You really need to focus on a bespoke resume that speaks to those qualifications and requirements,” he says.
And what about the vexing cover letter? Create a boilerplate letter that clearly outlines your qualifications and why you’d be a good fit for the company, Cohen says. Resumes may hold more sway with human resources but cover letters must still be well written and free of grammar and spelling errors.
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