6 strategies for successful job hunting during a downturn

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Periods of economic growth and decline are inevitable and there is no doubt that times are tough in the global economy right now. It feels like we have gone from boom to bust in the blink of an eye where major economies have shifted to a new normal of restrictions on movement, businesses closing either temporarily or sometimes permanently and social distancing becoming the norm. So we’re discussing how to tackle job hunting during a downturn.

Any period of economic downturn means that many people need to find a new job unexpectedly. Maybe because they were made redundant or their own business has dried up. Job hunting under pressure is stressful. However, a change of mindset and having a strategy can shift your focus from a negative experience to it being an opportunity to achieve new goals.

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Here are some strategies that could help you to land a new role during a downturn:

1. Get the basics right

Start by checking your resume. Is it up to date, refreshed with any new experiences and skills? If it needs an uplift, sites like Canva have easily editable resume templates. Consider reaching out to a career coach if you need more guidance on how to reformat your resume. This will be particularly important if you’re looking to make a career change. They can help you to bring any transferable skills to the forefront.

Write a plan. List the type of work you are looking for and where you will search. Add the links into an Excel document so that you can keep track of where you are searching, any applications you make and when you make them. This is a good way to plan any follow up that may be needed. Don’t forget to make sure you have a professional email address set up for applications.

2. Know any recruiters? Reach out to them and get their view on the current state of the market

Recruitment consultants can sometimes get a bad rep, but they are a golden source of information when it comes to knowing the job market in an area or industry. They’re likely to be the first to know about how companies are reacting to any economic downturn. Are they continuing to hire? Putting vacancies on hold? Or reducing headcount altogether?

Start with recruiters that you have a relationship with and let them know your current circumstances. Be clear on what you’re looking for and don’t be afraid to showcase what you have to offer! Leave the dialogue open by simply asking them “What is the best way to follow up with you? So that you can easily keep in touch with them to know when any suitable positions may arise.

3. Avoid job search burnout to be more productive

You know the saying that ‘finding a job is a full-time job’ – well this is an old cliché that no one should be sticking to! Yes, job hunting can sometimes feel like a numbers game and it’s easy to get sucked into trawling the online job boards 9-5. The problem with this is that it’s likely to lead to job search fatigue and increased frustration performing the same repetitive task.

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Dedicate a specific amount of time to your search, for example, a couple of hours in the morning and a couple of hours in the afternoon. Use the rest of your time to spend with family, tackle chores or freshen up your skills. Success relies on you being well-rested and ready to search with a clear head, so don’t overdo it.

4. Don’t forget social media

Most of us are familiar with the usual channels for job hunting; job boards, recruiters and maybe even referrals but many vacancies are also advertised on social media and we don’t just mean LinkedIn. Jobs are also advertised on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

On Instagram and Twitter, search the hashtags, #nowhiring and #applynow that have over 1 million posts combined. Now I know that there isn’t any form of filtering but dedicating some time to looking through the latest posts may come up with an unexpected gem.

Facebook groups are also a great resource to find job vacancies. Many small to medium business post job vacancies on Facebook especially within groups. Particularly if they are centred around a niche such as remote working or jobs in a specific location or industry.

Don’t forget – if reaching out to a job post on social media, make sure that your profile is professional with a clear profile picture and your name.

5. Branch out to something new

After dedicating years to an industry or role, the thought of making a switch to something new may fill you with dread. Starting from the beginning to work your way back up the ladder to your current level can be daunting. However, opening yourself up to a new position or a new industry can present you with opportunities that would otherwise be missed.

Many skills are transferable, and being able to implement those skills, regardless of the industry is more valuable than industry knowledge.

Also, there are many online course platforms such as Udemy and Coursera that offer online courses (some of them free) in everything from machine learning to productivity and time management if you want to learn some new skills to add to your resume.

6. Network when job hunting during a downturn

An essential aspect of any job hunt is networking. Ideally, networking should be a long-term plan done when both in and out of work. Effective networking takes time and the focus should be on building relationships over the long-term rather than a ‘hit and run’ where you only contact someone when you need something from them.  

Let ex-colleagues and contacts know that you’re open to new opportunities. Don’t start by asking about new vacancies outright – this can create too much pressure if the person must turn you down. Simply start by touching base and asking for advice around your job search.

Networking should be a two-way process and mutually beneficial. Although you may be in a time in need, try to share your own advice and offer help and support where relevant. You never know who may need it.

Hopefully, these six strategies can help you to land a new role. There will always be companies hiring during a downturn and one of those roles has your name on it. 

Good luck!  

About the author of 6 strategies for job hunting during a downturn

Nicola Rise is the Founder of the careers and networking site Wrk Crush, a platform where you can find a new job without the usual frustration that can come with job hunting. Wrk Crush can be found on Instagram @WrkCrush and at:  WrkCrush.com.