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August 12, 2009 > Job strategies in difficult times

Job strategies in difficult times

By Miriam G. Mazliach

"If you stay in the game long enough, you will eventually get re-employed."

So says, career coach and counselor, Mark Guterman during a recent free job skills seminar, presented by JVS (Jewish Employment Network.) JVS is a 36-year-old nonprofit, nonsectarian agency that helps people find work by offering career coaching, job search workshops, strategy groups and training programs. Its services are open to jobseekers of all ages, religions and races in the Bay area.

According to Guterman, new job unemployment claims are starting to flatten out. "There are jobs around, though some may be for lower pay than what people have been used to in the past."

Attendees at the seminar discussed their common feelings upon losing jobs ranging from frustration, loneliness and fear to anxiety and even anger. These feelings are natural because people take things personally.

"Give yourself time to grieve after you lose a job or a job ends. After an ending, and a new beginning, you're in the neutral zone or transition area," says Guterman. "We are reactive rather than proactive. Movement always creates opportunity, but you have to be extra disciplined to play the game. People are getting jobs."

"Networking is key, but it is more of an art than science." He adds, "If you put yourself out there every day, in a smart and savvy way, you'll get a competitive advantage. Work hard and smart."

Practicing your pitches and having a "finely tuned story" to tell is a key element in the job search process. Basically, it means getting comfortable and being prepared to tell your skills, strengths and experience in a short version or "elevator pitch" and then in an extended version for job interviews.

You never know whom you will bump into; so if you have "your story" in mind, it will be easier to get information across to a potential contact, quickly and clearly.

Here are a few other suggestions, for successful job transitioning, provided by Guterman:

1. Be organized, prepare a master resume, print business cards, practice your pitch and make a plan. Go on informational interviews to make more contacts and learn about various fields.

2. Think creatively about ways to tell about your background and skills.

3. Work hard during the job search but also take some time off to do other things. Don't dwell on your situation all the time.

4. Don't pin your hopes on one job; keep several "job irons" in the fire.

5. During a job interview, make sure you have done your research on the company and the position. Communicate your strengths, skills and accomplishments and how they would transfer to this position. The potential employer wants to know what you did and the results. Learn to communicate in mini-PSR format, (problem, solution and results) accomplishment-based explanations. Remember to send a thank you note afterwards.

6. If the job isn't offered, ask for feedback about your interview. Tell them to keep you in mind, if the other candidate doesn't work out. Don't be afraid to ask for other potential job contacts.

Overall, Guterman says to try and maintain a positive attitude during the job transition period by keeping in touch with people. He encourages job seekers to join networking groups and organizations and most importantly to not become isolated from others.

Most programs and services of JVS are offered free of charge, although there are fees for some individual sessions with career consultants. For more information contact:

JVS (Jewish Vocational Services)
225 Bush Street, Suite 400, San Francisco
(415) 391-3600

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