Share this article:
Bookmark and Share

4 Job Search Tips from The Street

The recent bad news from Wall Street may have you worried about the job market.

If so, you're not alone.

You need to do more things right to find employment these days, especially if you're in banking, finance, or a related field.

So, if you suddenly find yourself looking for work, or if your search is taking longer than planned, the following four tips will help, whether your goal is a job on Wall Street or Main Street ...

  1. Know Thy Skills

    The first thing to do if you're laid off or let go is to recognize that your skills and smarts haven't changed just because your company is going through tough times. That's according to John Benson, Founder & CEO of

    "Losing a job is traumatic, and it's important to step back and make an assessment of your skills and weaknesses, and examine where you are in your career."

    Write this all down on paper, because writing clarifies your thinking. After that, "show your list to a friend or colleague who can be objective enough to challenge your assumptions," advises Benson.

    Bonus: Every career-related conversation you have is a networking conversation ... which can turn into a job lead. So choose your confidants carefully for this exercise.

  2. Consider All Options

    After analyzing your professional skills, it can help to take another look at temporary or contract positions.

    While it may be tempting to wait for your ideal job to pop up, it can be faster to find an ideal employer first, then prove yourself in a contract position that leads to a permanent role, according to Jennifer Kleven, Practice Director for Accounting & Finance at the Minneapolis office of recruiting and staffing firm Mergis.

    "There are temporary and contract positions in all fields, from entry level and up. I have seen a number of people get their foot in the door and later become managers with employers," she says.

    To move up from temp to perm in today's job market, you should offer employers relevant skills, a good attitude and an even better work ethic. "Companies tend not to let people like that go," says Kleven.

  3. Differentiate or Dole

    Perhaps the biggest mistake job seekers make is a failure to differentiate themselves from the crowd, according to Benson. "Employers want to know that you have thought long and hard about wanting to work for them."

    In many cases, the first exposure you have to hiring managers is your cover letter. And sending out a formulaic letter won't help your cause.

    "Write a personalized cover letter in which you explain why you are a good match for the company and how you will bring value," says Benson.

    This is essential -- get the letter wrong, and many employers won't even look at your resume.

  4. Network -- Always and Everywhere

    In the end, it's a person who will hire you for the job you want. And people are everywhere. Logically, then, job leads are everywhere, too.

    That's why your networking radar must be turned on every moment of every day. Even when commuting. "I've seen people network while riding the bus. It was as simple as asking the other person, 'What do you do?'" says Kleven.

So, the next time you're seated next to a successful-looking person on a train, or in a coffee shop, why not strike up a conversation and ask about their profession?

The worst that can happen is ... nothing. But, if you open enough networking dialogues, you're bound to turn one into an interview later, which can lead to a job.

Tip: Need an excuse to start a networking conversation? Use me! Here's how ...

Walk up to someone you'd like to meet (professionally, of course) and say: "I read an article by Kevin Donlin in the Net-Temps CrossRoads newsletter. He said you can meet almost anyone just by asking what they do. So, do you mind if I ask you what you do for a living?"

Why not try it and see?

- Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free glimpse, visit Guerrilla Job Search System DVD.