A recent Pew study reveals what many of us have already observed: re-employed workers — those who lose their jobs and are then hired elsewhere — are more likely to consider themselves overqualified for what becomes their current position and are less likely to get a sense of identify from their work. In other words, they end up at jobs they don’t really want.
Whether you’ve lost your job and are looking to be the exception to this rule, or you’d like to trade your current position for one that better matches your qualifications, here are three strategies to help you receive an offer for the job that you actually want:
Go Back to School
It’s not necessary to re-enroll in a trade program or work toward a four-year degree in order to improve yourself. Look into a local community college or adult education program; some schools will allow you to “audit” the course so you can fully participate without receiving a final grade or transcript. You can also take courses offered at your local library or from a group like Toastmasters International or BNI.
Take classes that brush up on forgotten skills or teach you new ones. Completing these kinds of courses is both a noteworthy accomplishment and a source of well-earned pride. In addition to keeping your mind sharp, you can also develop a network with fellow students and instructors. Depending on the course, your current employer may cover part or all of education costs, encourage your networking and support your endeavors to become a better employee with your company.
Consider taking classes for fun. A swimming class at the community pool may not improve your resume, but it can provide an avenue of stress relief and a break from constantly refreshing your email for new job opportunities, all while improving your confidence. The candidate who looks and feels healthy, and appears to have hobbies outside of a job search, is often preferable.
Target, Test, Track and Tune
Throughout the recession, we have heard that familiar complaint: though hundreds — or even thousands — of resumes were sent, there’s still no job offer. Worn down or dejected with their prospects, many job hunters fail to understand that sending resumes is wasteful without knowing if they’re actually effective.
Instead of sending off a slightly differentiated resume and cover letter to every job posting, invest the necessary time to target the right companies, test different styles or strategies, track your results and continue to tune the process until you have the job you desire. It’s a more time-intensive process, surely, but with the balance of time in your favor, now is the time to be heavily invested in the future of your career. Begin by tracking your resume submissions and researching one company in depth.
Tone Down the Desperation
In a 2007 study in Psychological Science, researchers found that the “stink of desperation” was readily apparent, even in interactions as brief as four minutes. Unemployment or underemployment can rewire priorities in a matter of days, but no matter how urgent your situation may be, temper the desperation!
It’s certainly a real struggle though. A recently relocated friend of mine posted on Facebook that he had begun to “flip through the phone book, call a company on the page and ask for a job” on a daily basis. If your strategy is more whimsical than tactical, the results will reflect accordingly.
No matter the economic climate, businesses need profits and going to hire the best candidates for the positions available. The applicant who will be offered the job is the one who has thoroughly researched the industry, understands the company, targeted the position and arrived prepared and undaunted. Those who continue the path of mindlessly sending resumes and staying cocooned at home — wondering why unemployment is lingering on for so long — may eventually find work. However, if the newly re-employed hire still feels overqualified, then the new position won’t last, starting the cycle all over again.
If you once were happy with a job — any job — and now find yourself resentful and frustrated with your prospects, all is not lost. By following these strategies, you may prove yourself to be a more attractive candidate — if not to your current company, then to your next. By continuing to research and apply yourself, you can confidently go for the job you want — and not just be satisfied with the job you have.
Kelly Azevedo is the founder of She’s Got Systems, a custom coaching program that leads clients to get support, documenting and dominating in their fields. She has worked in successful six-figure and million-dollar online businesses, helping owners create the systems to serve their startup needs.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.