Monday, July 12, 2010

Job-Seeking during “The Great Recession”

By Barrie Berquist

Career Insider is a quarterly newsletter and is one of many benefits to MN AMA members. Each month, a dedicated blog submission will feature the current job market, employment trends and professional training opportunities. This is the first blog post to kickoff the conversation. Join us!

As we all know, we are still in the midst of The Great Recession and although we hear that things seem to be getting better, it is still tough out there. Jobs are still hard to come by. If you didn’t lose your job during the past 2 years, chances are pretty good that you know someone who did. Unfortunately, I was one of the unlucky few who was laid off and spent 14 months searching for employment before landing my current position. I know first-hand the amount of time, energy and stress associated with job-seeking. I also know the joy and relief of landing a job in my desired field and the satisfaction of having work-related successes once again.

For those of you who are currently seeking employment (whether or not you are currently employed), I’m curious to know the following:
• What has worked?
• What has NOT worked?
• What various methods are you using (i.e. job boards, career fairs, recruiters, networking, volunteering, etc.) and what has been your “hit-rate” with each?
• What advice do you wish you would have received when beginning your job search?
• What advice would you like to give others?

Barrie Berquist is a Retail Analyst on the ConAgra Foods Team at Acosta Sales and Marketing. She has been a member of the MN AMA since 2007 and is a member of the MarCom Committee where she serves as the Career Insider Blog Project Manager. She can be reached at  You can follow Barrie on Twitter @BEBERQUIST.

Bookmark and Share


Sabera said...

I can confidently say what has NOT worked for me:

Applying via email / job boards instead of applying for a job through a contact in the company. I spent all my effort writing the perfect cover letter / application email / resume and applying for a job, without finding out who in my network works there and making an attempt to forwarding my application through them.

While I am still searching and haven't found employment myself, the way all my friends got a job was to apply through a contact or a recommendation.

Going to networking events and volunteering, also helps building this network that you can then tap into when you see a suitable job posting. I know my volunteering with the MN AMA has helped me meet so many professionals who have been there for advice and help whenever I've needed it.

It's still pretty tough out there and I wish all the very best to everyone looking for a job!

Anonymous said...

For the first 6 months of the year I was applying for just about every marketing position in Minnesota and averaged one interview per 10 applications. This seemed to work very well, and none of them were through contacts at those companies. The interviews went great, with several leading to second and third interviews. My biggest roadblock was companies viewing me as "overqualified." Some even stated that the only reason they weren't hiring me is because they thought I would leave when the market picked up (which I thought was odd given that I had been with my previous company for 10 years).

Rupinder said...

It’s pretty basic and quite beginner focused but for the 14% of you who don’t know what affiliate marketing is – here’s a brief introduction.

online affiliate marketing

Jo Roberts said...

I know the prevailing theory today is that job boards don't work, but all of the interviews I've been on thus far have resulted from job boards, though not from the dreaded abyss that is automated resume submissions.

But, competition out there is tough! I've met lots of professionals here in the Twin Cities that are in my same boat: educated, smart, 10+ years experience and ability to jump into any situation. Some, even, with MBAs. Many of us took classes to keep our skills in check, attended a variety of professional programs regularly, volunteered, and joined job search clubs to help with the hunt. But, in many people's eyes this makes us overqualified for what is needed in the market now so we’re all competing for the same few jobs at that manager/director level.

Part of the problem is that so many of the positions are . . .
1. early career (i.e. 5 years or less)
2. extremely industry specific (i.e. CPG/food-related, agricultural, healthcare/biomedical)
3. come with unrealistic experience expectations (7+ years social media experience? Seriously?)

A few weeks back I "celebrated" the one year anniversary of my layoff. At that point, I re-evaluated my strategy. Now, while I've had to broaden my geographic demands beyond Minnesota, I've also refined the companies and positions to which I apply to better match my interests and strengths: I'm a startup girl at heart and would rather work at a small tech company looking for capital than a Fortune 500 or an agency with loads of accolades, so I've cut most large businesses from my search (with a few exceptions). I’ve reached out to several recruiters. And, I’m taking on freelance clients doing writing work I normally wouldn’t do, in part to expand my experience in case I need to consider completely switching careers to gain employment again.

I can’t say yet that any of this is producing results, but it’s making me a lot happier. Perhaps I’ll pick up a few more (better?) tips from the Kevin Dolin program on 8/10. At this point, I’m willing to try anything!

Barrie Berquist said...

Thank you, everyone, for sharing your experiences. Job hunting is very difficult and various strategies may work differently for different people. During the 14 months that I was unemployed, I applied to 175 jobs, attended 4 career fairs, conducted about 20 informational interviews with people at my target companies, attended networking events/mixers about 3 days/week, volunteered with the AMA on 2 committees, attended computer classes at the Science Museum of MN, attended seminars on job hunting/interviewing, attended webinars on marketing, read book/magazines to keep current on industry issues, etc.

Like Jo, I had reasonable success from the job boards. I had 11 interviews and received 1 offer (my current job). Of the 11 interviews, 5 came from applying through one of my target company's job board, 4 resulted from large job boards such as CareerBuilder, 1 resulted from attending a career fair, and 1 resulted from working with a recruiter.

I found that tailoring my cover letter and tweaking my resume helped land a phone interview. I found it very difficult to get the name of a person to personally address the cover letter to. At career fairs, reps at the booths refused to give out business cards and had first names only on their name tags. When I called companies to try to get info about the position or a name of a contact, they refused to give it out because as one receptionist stated, "we get people camping out in the halls."

The offer for my current position resulted from applying to another position and aggressively following up on the status. I mailed a hard copy of my resume to the HR director (I was able to get his name from the receptionist). I left several messages about the position I had applied to and he eventually called me to tell me that I was overqualified for that position but he informed me about another position that had recently opened that they were trying to fill quickly.

Although I recognize the value of networking, I don't feel that it helped me land an interview. However, it did help me get information to speak to during the interview that gave me an edge over other candidates.

Keep using different methods and evaluate the results of each. Do what works and don't give up! Good luck!

Post a Comment