Job Hunting in a Recession

Justin Wady of Zeebra Resource Solutions looks at finding a job in a recession Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.04.2009 11:32:07 (updated on 06.04.2009) Reading time: 5 minutes

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Economic Crisis, Recession and Credit Crunch seem to be the buzz words of the day and while it´s tempting to dismiss the doom and gloom propagated by the media as hyperbole, the fact is the global economy faces some very uncertain times ahead. Predicting the depth and duration of the financial downturn is near on impossible, but there is no doubt that to some extent we will be feeling the effects for at least the next 6 months (and most likely longer.) Thanks in part to the conservative lending policies of the domestic banking system, the Czech Republic is not (and probably will not) suffer to the extent of the UK and US; nevertheless we live in a highly interdependent global economy and there is no doubt that many of us, individuals and businesses alike, will ‘feel the pinch.´

For most people in times of recession, the primary concern is that of job security. Whether you are currently unemployed, about to look for your first job, or in danger of being made redundant, the job market is no longer an easy place to navigate.

First, let´s clarify one basic concept; in times of economic growth the demand for labor is high and supply tends to be low. In other words there are more open job vacancies than there are suitable job hunters. In times of recession (as we are currently facing) demand is low and supply is high, i.e. more people applying for fewer jobs. Generally, during times of economic growth if you see a job you are suitable for, you might send a standard CV to human resources and, assuming you tick all the boxes, you will most likely be invited for an interview. In times of recession however, you will often find that you will be competing with many other applicants for the same job; increasing the possibility of being over-looked. In short, although you may be a superior candidate, there is more of a chance of your CV being passed over due to the large number of other applicants.

So how do you get yourself noticed? How do you get your foot in the door to claim the job you want? In a word – marketing. You must present or market yourself in a way that the decision makers are made aware of your calibre. Here are some tips and ideas to help you market yourself into that next job:


Spend some time creating a CV masterpiece. Not half an hour just listing your chronological job history. Imagine it´s your first day in a new job and your boss asks you to prepare a small presentation; you´d probably spend hours on it, even working into the night, just to make a good impression. Why should your CV presentation be any different?

Whilst I used the term ‘CV masterpiece´ this doesn´t means an artistic masterpiece, and it certainly should not be a 4 hour epic. Less is often more in a CV, and very few CVs should have any color other than black and white and using any more than 2 fonts can be distracting. So what should you be doing in these hours spent preparing your CV? As with any project, the most important parts are planning, analysis and preparation. Research how other people style their CVs (ask for help) and emulate the style that you think is most appropriate for your profile. Then you need to think about what you should write.

In terms of the CV content, try and stay focused on relevant experiences. Your time working in a bar during college does not need to be mentioned – unless of course it´s bar work you are looking for! Also, experience gained over 5 years ago need only be summarised. More focus should be on your most recent experience. If you want to mention your hobbies and interests, then it should only be a one line entry.

Remember this; in times of recession companies are more interested than ever in people who can add value to their company. Their focus is on cutting costs, improving sales, and improving general efficiency. In other words they want people who are results orientated. No matter what your profession, you can focus on the value you add to the overall business. If you are a web developer, don´t just write a list of the technical skills you have. You don´t have to be in sales or finance to make your CV more business orientated. For example don´t write “Programmed a web application in Java” instead write “Was solely responsible for delivering a Java based web application for one of the world´s leading web portals. In the 6 months following the launch of this application the website hits increased by 35%.” In other words, try and focus on the overall impact your work had as opposed to just discussing the work you did. Generally where possible mention the success you achieved, or the success you were part of.  

Making Contact – The Pitch

Ok, so you are now armed with an A1 CV, but where do you send it? Of course there is the obvious route of searching online job portals and applying to jobs through HR. Even with a great CV this is not necessarily the best route. You will still be one CV of many and very easily over-looked. Therefore you need to get yourself heard. Here are some ideas how:

Go straight to the line manager. With a bit of effort it is not difficult to find the email contact of the person you want. Drop them an email with your CV attached. In the message body write a short and clear summary of why you are sending your CV and what your added value will be.

Go to as many networking/society events, conferences and trade fairs as you can. Meet enough people in a more social ‘face to face´ environment and you will soon end up talking to a potential hiring manager, or at least someone who knows someone. Providing you create a positive impression, their interest in you as a potential employee can increase dramatically, and this is without them even seeing your award winning CV!

Partner with recruitment agencies that can take care of the marketing side of things for you. With hundreds of agencies on the market you need to do your research here. Ask friends and colleagues about their experiences and find out which ones genuinely help market you into the right jobs and which ones just band your CV around without due consideration.

Leverage your job hunting status by informing the world you are on the market. Email friends, colleagues, and any relevant contacts to inform them you are available for new opportunities. Use social-networking sites to make new contacts whilst allowing potential hiring managers to find you.

Your actual skills, experiences and personality will always be the key to getting the role you want, but in these times you might need to learn to market yourself more than ever before.  In short, regardless of whether you are marketing a company or marketing ‘yourself´ – achieving success in a period of recession requires more research, more perseverance and a creative approach; skills which are sure to be attractive to any prospective employer.

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