Searching For a Job? A Dozen Strategies For Success

This column provides 12 tangible tips for unemployed readers seeking employment.

1. Grief Process

Grief guru Elizabeth Kubler Ross penned five stages of grief that apply directly to job loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression then acceptance. It’s normal to experience a wide range of intense feelings after being laid off, including relief if you disliked your job. Find someone safe to process your emotions with, so negative emotions don’t spill over into your job search. Never bad mouth a former employer to a prospective one…ever!

2. Holistic Approach

You bring body, mind and spirit to the job search, so take care of all three. Get regular exercise, eat well and try to get a good night’s rest. Keep tabs on your mental health and call a counselor if need be. Participate in spiritual practices to help you stay centered and hope-filled. Ask for grace daily to stay positive, focused and persistent.

3. Current Resume

Crafting a resume isn’t the most creative writing endeavor, yet it must be done. Only three hard and fast rules apply: it must be free of spelling errors, it should not be longer than two pages (unless you are writing an academic resume) and it must be truthful. How do you know if your resume is good? If you are applying for jobs you are qualified for and are getting called for interviews, your resume is working. If you aren’t getting calls, consider investing in an hour’s worth of career counseling for a resume critique.

4. Identify Skills

Easier said than done, right? One trick I use to have clients identify their skills is to list seven or eight major career accomplishments they’ve made, then describe the skills they used to achieve them.

5. Targeted Search

There are numerous ways to target your search; by location (shorter commute, wanting to make a geographical move to warmer climates, etc), industry (note which ones are growing, which ones are declining), profit versus non-profit, corporations you’ve heard are good to work for, and the most basic—which companies hire people in your profession?

6. Your 30 Second Commercial

You tell people you are looking for a job, and they ask, “What type of work are you looking for?” Write down a short summary or commercial for yourself and practice reciting until you become fluent.

7. Schedule Includes Rewards

Looking for a job is a full time job, so plan to work at least 30-40 hours a week on your search, but schedule breaks and rewards. “After I finish this draft of my resume, I get to take a walk.”

8. Humble Pie

There is no shame in being unemployed, yet telling people you are looking for work can be humbling. Trust it will get easier each time you ask.

9. Re-training

Unemployment presents the perfect opportunity to upgrade your skills and education. Always wanted to finish your degree? Go for it! If you qualify for the dislocated worker project (see resource list following) you may even qualify for training dollars. Take control of your career destiny by seizing this time for learning, even if it’s just a computer class.

10. Business Cards

Unemployed clients always look at me weird when I ask, “Do you have business cards?” Think about it. Do you really want to tear off a napkin to share your name and contact information with someone? Leaving a card does three things: makes you look like the professional you are, it allows people to have your contact information and provides a visible reminder about whatever they said they’d do for you.

11. Networking

Career counselors estimate 60-70 percent of all jobs are found through networking, so plan to spend at least half of your job search on networking. Join professional organizations and attend events. Meet people in your professional circle for coffee or lunch. Visit job support and networking groups. Follow up on hot leads immediately and ask friends and family for additional people to connect with.

12. Utilize Job Search Resources

Dislocated Worker Program The dislocated worker program provides employment, training and support services to workers who have been laid off through no fault of their own. Visit for qualifying guidelines and a directory of dislocated worker providers by city.

State Workforce Centers Workforce centers provide vocational counseling, assessment testing, job banks, use of computers and frequent speakers on job related topics. Visit to find the center near you.

Job Transition Support GroupsĀ Many local churches, workforce centers and career counseling agencies offer regular job support meetings complete with networking and speakers.

Mid-Career TransitionsĀ SHIFT is a community of mid-lifers seeking meaningful work, paid or unpaid. SHIFT meets twice monthly at Dunn Brothers Coffee Shop near Loring Park. SHIFT provides resources, support and speakers. For more information or to sign up for their free newsletter visit

Mary Rose Remington, M.S.Ed., is a career counselor, life coach and motivational speaker in St.Paul. This article first appeared in our 2007 August issue of The Phoenix Spirit.

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