Don't blame the economy for being unemployed

Every time we turn on the news people are complaining about the "horrible unemployment rates" and how "jobs are incredibly hard to find". Yet, for some reason, whenever anyone I know goes looking for employee's, they can't find any that aren't happily employed elsewhere.

The problem isn't that there are less jobs, the problem is that the US is becoming smarter and doing things more efficiently, thus we require the right type of people, those that know certain things, not just jobs that any electronic monkey can do.

Eric Hammond's Post on how companies have to work harder to get quality employee's just shows that it's even the big boys out in LA that are having problems. Don't blame the economy if you can't find a job.

Even those that don't have the skill set for the kind of work that Eric and I are looking for still have options. Companies are always hiring, even if your current company goes away, there's always another place that will hire people doing something.

Here's my three simple rules for getting, and keeping, a job.

Rule #1 Don't be picky

I'm not saying that you will always  be able to find a job immediately, in fact it often takes some work, but there are always companies looking for work. Just because you were doing plumbing at your previous job, doesn't mean that if you get laid off you can't go work at WalMart.

If you're in need of a job to get by, don't complain that there's no jobs for you. There are a multitude of jobs out there, maybe not in your area, but that doesn't mean you can't move.

The worst thing to do in an interview is turn down a job based on the amount of money it's going to provide for you. Even if you're moving down to $10/hour from $20/hour, at least it's a job. Take it and move up in the company, don't set your initial expectations so incredibly high that you don't find anything. Remember, even $10/hour is better then $0/hour. Unless you have several job's lined up already, you can't afford to turn down any offer, no matter how bad it may seem.

Don't be afraid to go back to an old employer. Just because you left them doesn't mean that they won't take you back. Again, don't expect to just jump right in where you left off, but any job is better then no job.

Rule #2 Make a real Resume

I don't know when it became no longer standard practice to include a decent 1 page resume with specific details about the job you're applying for, but as someone who's hired several employees and waded through hundreds of resumes, I'll tell you that if your resume isn't focused and short, you're not going to get a job. The Resume is a 1 page representation of who you are and what you can bring to the company. If you're applying for a job doing software programming and you have 3 pages of job experience, mostly detailing your work in retail, then you're going right in the trash.

The most important part of the Resume is to make it focused on the kind of job you're applying for. The best resume's I've seen were from people that often kept several copies of their resume, each tailored for specific job positions. For example, you may have one resume for software programming, and another for project management, and maybe even another for sales (remember rule #1).

Rule #3 Be Honest

The worst thing that you can do in any job interview, or any part of the job hiring process, is to lie. If a prospective employer asks you about how you would go about solving a particular issue, don't bumble around and make something up, be honest and tell them you don't know. Eventually, these things will catch up to you. If you put on your resume that you speak Spanish but really all you know is how to say "I need to use the bathroom", you're going to get fired when they put you in a meeting with all spanish speaking people and you can't understand anything they're saying.

Don't make things up, if you honestly have no idea or have trouble understanding what the interviewer is asking for, just ask for clarification and explain the situation. Don't be afraid to say things like "I'd have to do more research on that topic". The only time in your life that you need to memorize answers to complex questions is when you're in school, in the real world we have Google.

Be upfront about any issues you may have. I was interviewing for a company about a year ago that didn't want to hire someone who was looking for anything more then a 6 month "job". Since I already had a decent job that I was working at, I could afford to break rule #1, so I told them right upfront that I was looking for a career, not just a job. This may have meant that I lost the higher paying job, but by being upfront about it, I avoided the long-term issue of being out of a job in 6 months.
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