2009 – The Year of the Job Search

With unemployment rates at record highs and Fortune 500s daily announcing pending layoffs, it is pretty clear that 2009 is going to usher in an even greater frenzy of job seekers. All of us, directly or indirectly, will be affected in some way.

As a job search coach, it concerns me that so many people will be out there, clinging to corporate outplacement services and to bad advice from well-meaning friends and family as a way to conduct their job search. Anxiety levels will be high, and expectations will be false.

When it comes to a job search, I have two areas that I focus on with my clients, above and beyond the quality of their resume: proper expectations and key target market. The reason I focus in on these areas so much is because they are often the two areas that trip up most job seekers and cause them to waste a lot of time, money, and frustration when it comes to their job search.

And when you add in people’s high desperation levels, it is only going to be worse.

Case in point: I spoke with a woman the other day who is a Ph.D. and has a diverse background in leadership development and change management. She is frustrated. She is mad. And she wants to spend a lot of time blaming someone, something, everyone. She wants one resume to cover 3 different fields, and she is angry that resume writers keep advising her against that. She wants some recruiter friend to tell her that everything she has ever done is fantastic, but of course the recruiter friend can only help guide her into a very specific job that the recruiter is recruiting for. And of course she doesn’t want and doesn’t fit that job. So she thinks, once again, that the resume just doesn’t “capture” her. She believes that with her background and expertise, she should be suitable for almost anything she wants to do, and she thinks that she shouldn’t have to spend more than 45 days looking for a job.

Ugh.

It’s going to be a very rude awakening for some job seekers out there. The truth is none of these things that my Ph.D. friend is expecting have been true for a very long time, if ever. I’m not sure where some of these expectations come from, but they are very misguided. Add to these false expectations a tough economy and job market and you have a recipe for disaster!

Yes, 2009 is definitely going to be the year of the job search, whether we like it or not. My hope is that out of the doom and gloom some positive things will arise.

First and foremost, I am hoping that many professionals will awaken to the idea that a job search is about much more than having a nice resume and talking to a couple recruiters. I’m hoping that they will begin to really look at how to conduct an effective search in a competitive market and will invest wisely in services to accomplish that goal.

But even more than that, I hope they will establish proper expectations in light of the economy and the nature of the marketplace today. Granted, it is a tough thing to do, but not impossible if you prepare. The problem is that most of us only look inward when it comes to a job search; we spend too much time looking at ourselves and not enough looking at the industry we are targeting. Therefore, we fail to prepare the way we need to. And then when things don’t work out the way we expect them to, we start blaming everything and everyone.

So if a job search is in your near future, don’t hide in a corner and wait until it comes. Make it your resolution this New Year’s to get yourself armed with wise counsel.