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5 Things I Did While Searching for a Job in a Recession

Searching for a job in the biggest recession since the Great Depression of 1930's was no mean task.  I did everything possible to get a job after I voluntarily resigned from my very stable job in the Banking industry.  Some people called me a fool, but that was the best thing I ever did.

This was in September 2008.  After that I travelled in India for four months, the highlight being my visit to Baba Amte's Hemalkasa project and a trek to the foot of Mt. Kanchendzonga - world's third highest peak.

I returned from India in late January 2009 and quickly discovered that we were indeed in a recession!  The job market had completely dried up.  There were hiring freezes everywhere.  Even some of my best leads fizzled.  The head-hunters who used to drive me crazy with frequent phone calls and e-mails with job leads were suddenly quiet.  The world was in a deep sleep ... recession.

Interestingly, I did manage to land a couple of interviews in February, however, due to a hiring freeze, one of those interviews led to nothing, and the other one I didn't get the job as I was ill-prepared for it.  I cannot stress the importance of preparing for interviews, as I blew several interviews because of my over-confidence and lack of preparation.

So what did I do?  Aside from networking with people in the industry, I spent a lot of quality time with my niece and newly born nephew.  I also watched a lot of movies.

In April, I started thinking of more travelling.  It didn't take me very long to draw up an adventurous itinerary to Southeast Asia, which included Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Vietnam.  And I was off again - on my own - and returned in July from an eye-opening journey.  The latest trip only fueled my wander lust.  I learned that to travel is to discover everyone is wrong about other countries.  The world's such a beautiful and amazing place.

South America and Africa are next on my list.  I will visit these places while on a World Tour that I have planned in the future...  I love going to new places and experiencing new and different cultures, and meeting people from all walks of life.  But you already knew that, right?

After returing from Southeast Asia, I had to get serious about finding a job.  I did a number of things when searching for a job.  The things that gave me the most positive results will not surprise anyone.

Here are all the things that I did when searching for a job:

    1. Post your resume on job posting sites.
    • 13% of the interviews that I was called for were due to posting my resume online.
    • Recruiters/head-hunters often scour resumes posted here and contact people with job leads.  I got several interviews this way.

    • Most jobs posted here are with agencies.  I mostly didn't apply to these jobs and limited myself to "actual" job postings from companies.
    2. Work with recruiters/head-hunters.
    • 19% of the interviews that I was called for were thanks to head-hunters.
    • I worked with a lot of head-hunters and discovered that some have very good contacts in the industry who can quickly get you an interview, and others who are "all talk".

    • It is to your advantage to work with head-hunters as they are quite resourceful and have many contacts.

    • I had several interviews via head-hunters.
    3. Network with people.
    • 44% of the interviews that I was called for were due to networking with people.
    • I kept in touch with all my colleagues from my previous job.  Everyone who should know I was in the job market, knew I was in the market!

    • I often met people over a cup of coffee or lunch.  The intent was not just to get a job, but to keep in touch.

    • Your ex-colleagues and friends can help you in a number of ways.  For example, I had an interview in February(!) because someone had recommended my name to a head-hunter who had good contacts in the industry.

    • Last month I received a call from one of my high-ranking contacts who literally offered me a job over the phone - however, I had already found something by that time.
    4. Visit a company's "Careers" page and apply online.
    • 25% of the interviews that I was called for were due to applying for jobs independently via a company's corporate website.
    • Since it was not ideal to totally depend on head-hunters to get me interviews, I made a list of all the companies I was interested in working in and visited their corporate website and applied for jobs independently via their Careers page.

    • I expected nothing by applying for jobs in this way as the HR department probably receives thousands of resumes this way and mine would be just "another one".

    • Interestingly though, I ultimately found an "unadvertised" job this way!  My resume was forwarded by HR to a hiring manager who called me for an interview.  The company was looking for an independent contractor to work on a large Risk Management project - and I was the chosen one.  So, a legal contract was signed, and I'm now three months into it.  The position was totally unrelated to the job that I had originally applied for online.  I think I just got lucky.
    5. Create a LinkedIn profile.
    • I had no luck getting any interviews this way.
    • A head-hunter recommended me to do this.

    • Apparently, a lot of recruiters these days are finding candidates this way.
In conclusion, I think it is true that the best jobs are not advertised!

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