During recession, there is the need to understand the job market. The cold hard truth is that the working force is comprised entirely of people who get hit harder than anyone else during a recession. As you no doubt have experienced firsthand, the employment rate is perhaps the first major casualty of economic downturn.
There’s simply less money going around during a recession. This means that companies cannot afford to staff as many workers as they otherwise could. As a result, people are laid off, and there are fewer new openings.
Not only does this mean that there are fewer positions, it means that there are more and more qualified individuals out there, without work, looking to fill those positions. In other words, it’s a very, very competitive job market.
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Going the Extra Mile
What you should understand, first and foremost, is that your qualifications, your degree, your past experience, they don’t guarantee you the job anymore. All of that only guarantees you an opportunity to get your foot in the door. That’s it.
In other words, you can’t coast on your credentials alone. You may be an MIT graduate, an expert with ten years experience in the field or a Pulitzer Prize winner. Unless you’re also the only son of the company’s CEO, there’s no award, title, position, degree or golden ticket that’s going to guarantee you any job you want.
What you need to be able to do is offer something more than the next candidate can. With so many people attempting to fill so few positions, employers aren’t just looking for a qualified candidate. Qualified candidates are a dime a dozen. Employers are looking for someone who can be a boon to their company, and not simply just another employee.
This is true at every level from managing an office to working as a janitor. Anyone can grasp the job and get it done, but not everyone can offer strong leadership, creative problem solving, or a strong work ethic. Whatever you can offer that the next candidate cannot, that’s exactly what you need to play up in your resume and during any job interview.
To put today’s economy into perspective, let’s say you’re applying with a newspaper to be a film critic. Ten years ago, you wouldn’t have quite as much competition. Getting paid to watch movies is a desirable job, so there are always people out there looking for work there, but there were also more jobs available.
More and more papers these days are actually dropping their entertainment columns, meaning that there are a lot of out of work film critics out there, looking for work, and highly qualified with years of experience writing for national papers.
For example, Ella Taylor, former critic for the LA Weekly, was laid off in 2009 after working for the paper since the late eighties. If you went out looking for your first job as a film critic right now, that’s some pretty stiff competition to be up against.
What this means is that you’re not as likely to nab your dream job right off the bat. The waiting rooms these days are packed from wall to wall with qualified, capable individuals, people who’ve had very successful careers in their field, who’ve built a reputation, and who were laid off because their company simply couldn’t afford to keep them employed any longer.
When there were more jobs than there were applicants, it wasn’t difficult to find a great position on your first try simply by virtue of your qualifications and experience. Now, even the most qualified and experienced professionals are competing with one another for the few positions available.
This doesn’t make the situation hopeless, it only means that you need something more than simply the right qualifications for the job. You need to be passionate, versatile, aggressive and persistent.