Work & Career: Back to the Grind

btog.jpg– The hard work of finding work.

For school children and the employed, Labour Day is the official end of summertime — time off, slacking off, the procrastinating until next week what otherwise would have been front burner today.

Back to the grind for the lucky employed is one thing, but the end of summer marks the end of any breaks or excuses for the unemployed too — for more people this year than in recent memory, it’s time to get back to the work of getting work.

For Max Tremblay, 42, a marketing executive, the phone has always been ringing – having succeeded in roles in packaged goods and online, he was a headhunter’s dream and fielded calls almost weekly.

Those were the days.

After leaving a senior position in the spring, the result of a major change in corporate strategy and ensuing management shuffle, he wasn’t expecting that finding a new role at the same senior level would be easy. But he certainly didn’t think it would be this hard.

“The summer was dead,” says Tremblay. “My contacts said 2009 has been one of quietest summers in the last 10 years … and so it has been a challenging and rewarding time – challenging in terms of staying positive and trying not to give up, and hugely rewarding because it finally gave me a chance to spend a lot of time with my 4 year old.”

Like many in his situation, Tremblay took cold comfort in three words: “Bad economy. Summertime”. For him, and a lot of mid-career people made redundant this year, the season offered a psychological break from anxiety – it’s summer after all, everyone’s away, and it’s easy to be distracted with taking the kids to the park.

“There is no question that things slow down and decisions are deferred in the summertime,” says Terence Donnelly of Mandrake, the worldwide executive recruiting company with offices in 81 countries. “And there is no question this summer was especially bad in most sectors – for the quarter leading into the summer was the worst we’ve ever had, and overall our volume is down 25%.”

Technology and telco sectors seem robust – ironically, since these were the hardest hit during the last economic downturn – but virtually every other area of the market is struggling.

Donnelly says things are beginning to look up for jobseekers, but “everyone is going to have to work that much harder, and to look at a bigger number of things that are out there.”

And what exactly does that mean?

“Use LinkedIn and Simply Hired – if you don’t know how powerful LinkedIn is, you’re missing something,” says Donnelly. LinkedIn is similar to Facebook but offers a business/career profile rather than a personal one. “Facebook is who you are. LinkedIn is what you are,” says Donnelly, who uses the site extensively in virtually every search.

Meryl Rosenthal runs the recruiting company Hirepower – and has a “resume rescue” business to help jobseekers put their best face forward.

“Now we’re in a season where stress and anxiety levels rise and it can be depressing to get back to the grind of finding a job,” says Rosenthal.

Her advice?

“Put some rigor and discipline to it, as much as you probably worked when you were employed,” she says. “Set a daily goal so that you can feel good at the end of every day. Finding a job is a journey, the goal can’t be “get a job” but rather the many steps that you can achieve daily, weekly and monthly to stay motivated.” She said the daily affirmation of achieving goals every day will also help a jobseeker appear confident and positive in a job interview – critical for landing the job.

So, to beat the back-to-the-job hunt blues:

– Join LinkedIn, Plaxo and their ilk. “Your profile should read like your resume. If it does, and it demonstrates a depth of expertise, work will find you,” says Donnelly.

– Set daily, weekly and monthly goals – these can be anything from “send out 10 resumes today” to “contact three search firms” to “speak to five people in my network”. On that note – think about every path you’ve crossed in your career and build on your network of contacts. Great jobs can come via serendipity.

– Put yourself in a positive frame of mind, difficult as it may be. “Try to think of yourself as now being free, and know that there are endless possibilities for where your search may take you. It’s exciting really,” says Rosenthal.

– Even when you land your job in the next few weeks or months, think about where you want to be next. “Think about the name of the company, the title, the role you want,” says Donnelly. “Most companies have business plans, you need to have a five year plan, too – the clearer the goal, the better able you will be to achieve it.” Studies show that the most successful people in the world, with the highest net worth, use career visualization techniques to stay on track.

This is a great time to get in touch with people, to reconnect, and a chance to see the inside of a lot of companies you would not have even known about. Happy hunting!

If you need a “resume rescue” contact Hirepower: [email protected]