Getting and Staying Employed in a Shrinking Job Market

To call today’s economy tough is like calling Moby Dick a big fish. Let’s face it, with the threat of double digit unemployment looming ahead it is down right scary for the vast majority of people I hear from each day.

However, if you can stay focused, determined, upbeat and flexible these times offer opportunities for not only continuing but also advancing your career. Here is the straight scoop as I see it. While the number of jobs may be on the decline there is still work to be done. Doing more with less is a mantra I hear resonating with employers I speak to around the country.

So here are a few tips to help you get and stay employed:

  • Be a “force multiplier”. Both in interviews or with your existing employer show that you will make a difference by giving 110% and being willing to wear more than one hat. Become that “go to” person in your department.
  • Upgrade you skills immediately. Look for new opportunities in your existing role. Develop a “new and improved” skill set. Take some courses, volunteer for a new project.
  • Sell your skills first and then your experience. Remember, your experience is your past; your skills are what you bring to the workplace now and in the future. Demonstrate your flexibility to tackle whatever needs to be done.
  • Interview with your ears. Eighty-five percent of all job seekers talk too much in the interview. Listen closely to what the employer needs then respond as someone who can satisfy those needs. An open-ended question such as “Could you please tell me more about that?” will elicit additional information from an interviewer as well as clearly demonstrate your interest in learning more about the position.
  • What your boss tells you directly about your performance is important. However, what he or she doesn’t say may be even more important. Watch for the more informal signals such as what meetings you are invited to, what emails you are copied on, or even off handed comments that come your way at a meeting. Stay focused on this informal feedback and the signals it sends to you about where you stand in our boss’s eyes.
  • In an interview, ask questions that set you up to make the sale. A question such as “What results do you ant me to produce immediately?” sends a strong message that you will hit the ground running if they hire you.
  • Brand and promote yourself. Your personal brand is the image you want others to have of you. Put this in writing. For example, if you want to be seen as the “consummate team player” be sure to write down the specific behaviors you will do everyday to create that brand image.
  • For older job seekers, you don’t have to fake youth to get a good job, but you usually do need to present yourself as in touch with relevant current trends, in sync with current technology, generally energetic and vigorous. Look for opportunities to present age as an asset by translating “age” into “experience”, “maturity”, and “sound judgment”.

Marc Dorio is a results oriented Organizational Effectiveness and Training professional and the author of books such as The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Interview .