How to Land a Job in a Recession

I’m writing this article for all the college graduates out there.  2010 was quite possibly the worst time to graduate from college.  The tech, retail, pharmaceutical, financial and construction markets were slammed and dried up.  There was a real sense of depression during those times.  If was as-if not a single person was going to land a job.  It was not a fun time to say the last haha.

I remember feeling the pressure and anxiety about finding a job after college.  But let me tell you, don’t lose hope!  It’s all about perseverance.  I remember the people who still don’t have jobs six months after graduating.  They were also some of the most passive people I know.  While these passive friends were sitting on their butts, the ambitious friends around me were landing multiple job offers.  How does that work?

It comes down to how much effort and how hard you try.  Early on, I received some golden job-hunting tips from family members and professors, here they are!

It’s never too early to start looking. I remember senior year and looking for a job.  I didn’t wait until my senior year to start looking for jobs.  I started my career search 6 months prior to graduating.  Did this add stress to my study life? Probably.  But, was it worth the job I have now?  MOST DEFINITELY! It is never too early to start looking for a job.  Go to every job fair you can find and land as many interviews as possible.  The sooner you start, the greater exposure you will have with companies.  Also, the sooner you start, the less competition you have.

When denied, try again. Look, you WILL get denied.  Don’t look at it as a failure because it never is.  Even if you don’t land a job after interviewing, you now have a life-long industry contact.  Keep in touch with every interviewer and ALWAYS ask for their business cards.  This is a growing experience.  Remember, what matters in life is what you do when you’re down.  Do you stay down or get back up?  I interviewed with over a dozen companies before landing my current job.  Where would I be if I gave up after the first dead-end interview?  Keep striving for that job, you will eventually get it.

Network, network and network some more. Networking is the quickest way to landing a job during a recession.  I have my own take on successful networking.  I don’t see anything wrong with asking a potential employer out to lunch and just getting to know each other.  Developing relationships is key here.  If you don’t do this, you’re just another number to them.  You need to make an effort to network with “relationship development” in mind.  I still call past employers and industry contacts just to say hello.  It’s always good to catch up.  This way, it’s hard for them to forget your name.  it’s all about making a lasting impression.

Don’t be fake in your interviews. Being yourself in interviews is quite possibly the most important thing you can do to land a job.  The worst thing you can do is fake your personality and suck up to the interviewer.  These guys are trained to smell this from a mile away, just don’t do it.  My friends used to ask me how I could be so relaxed in interviews?  My explanation was that I treated the interviewer as a friend. When I did that, I was much more relaxed and even cracked jokes during my interviews.  From my experience, this worked well.  They know if you’re relaxed.  Also, being relaxed shows them your level of confidence.

Focus on thriving companies during a recession, not all are hurting. This is all about doing your research.  Google the companies you’re interviewing with. Look at their balance sheets.  Ask employees of the company how they’re doing.  The most you ask around, the better understanding of the company’s financial status you’ll get.  I remember interviewing for commercial construction contractors in 2010. They were hit hard and jobs were dried up.  I had to think outside of the box and ask myself, “where is the money?” That’s when I switched gears and started interviewing with heavy civil (bridges/roads) contractors.  With the billions of stimulus money coming from the federal government, a job in the infrastructure industry was a good choice.  I still work for the same contractor today and we’re having a record year during one of the worst recessions in U.S history.  The key was research, and it paid off!

Be willing to move. I don’t have compassion for people who are not willing to move.  If there is a job in another state, and it requires you to move, do it!  Moving away from what you know as comfortable can be a growing experience.  You will meet new people, make new friends, and will prepare you for when you have to move again.  I moved away from everything in Seattle and relocated down to San Diego for my job.  I can safely say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  If you are someone who is struggling with the idea of moving, feel free to email me with questions or doubts you might be having.  I’d love to share my story with you!

It is critical to have a job during the recession, even if it’s a hit to your pride.  When this economy picks up again, the last thing a potential employer will want to see is that you’ve been sitting at home for the last couple years.  Get out there and do something!