Job hunting in Portland has become increasingly more difficult as the Recession deepens. I have a B.A. and a M.S., and despite applying for over 50 jobs, I can't seem to get an interview. My situation is not uncommon. As I get out in the community in Portland, I keep meeting people who have recently been laid off and looking for a job. So far the unemployment rate in Oregon is hovering around 9%, and they predict it will reach double digits in the next few months. I have learned that at least one of the jobs I applied for received 100 applications in one day. Wow! I just keep plugging away and knowing in my heart that there is a job out there for me somewhere. I have also been very fortunate to have a wonderful boyfriend who has faith in me and knows that persistence will pay off. For those of you who are unemployed and looking for a job, I have a few suggestions that have helped me stay in a good mood and diligent in my job search:
1. Get out of the house. In the morning I get myself ready, straighten up the house, and leave by 8:45 with my boyfriend. He heads off to work, and I head to the local coffee shop where I search on the Internet for job openings. Finding employment is now my job.
2. Network. When I was quizzing a very wise friend of mine about what I should do to get a job she said, "Network, network, network." I have taken her advice to heart and have attended conferences/trainings, organization happy hours, and currently I am looking into volunteer opportunities. I have met some wonderful people with great suggestions.
3. Optimism. Be good to yourself, and keep your mind on the goal. There are enough people out there who will try to tear you down or say derogatory comments about your employment status without you doing it to yourself. We are in the middle of a financial crisis; your unemployment is temporary and doesn't say anything about your or your abilities.
4. Research. Find the websites that work for you and check them daily. Currently I check out the following:
County office, university, and public school websites
5. Detail in Writing. Do not use a standard cover letter. Instead, write each letter individually to meet the job description that you are applying for. In
fact, tweak your resume each time to match your experience with the job description.
6. Dream Job? Now is not the time to go searching for your dream job. When the nation is facing a financial crisis of this magnitude the important thing is to just have a job.
7. Hobbies. I have found too often in life that a job has defined me as a person. Think about what happens when you meet a new person. One of your first questions is what do you do for a living. It's true. This time off of work has been a time of reflection and renewal for me. I have rediscovered some of my past hobbies, and I have picked up a few others. When I go back to work now I think I will be a better rounded individual with a healthy balance between my personal and professional life.
8. Organization. For me organization has meant having all my transcripts, reference letters, resumes, teaching certificates, and application information all in one place where I can easily attach them to any e-mail or job application.
9. Risk. At this point in the process, I am constantly considering how to take a risk and stand out from the others who applied for the position. Recently, I have been sending personal follow up letters via U.S. mail after I applied online. Many of the ads say they do not want phone calls, and I respect this request.
10. Questions. Everyday I think of questions that people would ask me in a job interview, and I consider how I would respond to those questions. I want to be ready when an interview does come my way.