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10 top ideas for finding a job in lousy economy

Good morning, job hunters. This is your drill sergeant speaking as you prepare to hit the streets, the Web, your friends, your enemies and most strangers — all for the purpose of finding a decent job now that you've lost one to this lousy recession. Take heart. Good advice waits below.

Are you ready … ? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

That's better.

Look, I know job hunting is hard, especially with a Tampa Bay unemployment rate that's just gone double digits, soaring to 10.2 percent last month. I can't find a job for you. Heck, I may join you before too long.

So I asked a bunch of Tampa Bay area people, from CEOs and managers to HR experts and labor lawyers, to give their best counsel on how to find work.

I was struck by one common thread: Network. As in (1) Get out of the house; (2) Look people in the eye with confidence and optimism; (3) Be prepared and engaged; and (4) Be ready to do it all over tomorrow if nothing happens today.

All cliches, you say? Networking was the No. 1 priority of almost everyone I contacted. Turn off the TV. Stop pretending that sitting at home e-mailing resumes is getting it done.

I've culled the best advice of many to give you the best job hunting suggestions. Here are the top 10 ideas:

1. Networking is the way to go. Many great jobs are not advertised," says Ignacio Garcia, a lawyer with Tampa's Ogletree Deakins labor and employment law firm.

2. Utilize local resources such as WorkNet Pinellas. We frequently refer the expanding local companies we support to WorkNet for their recruitment needs," says Suzanne Christman, senior manager, business development, Pinellas County Economic Development.

3. It sounds trite, but we are getting inundated with people just spamming us for jobs for any and all positions. This is not effective. Research the company and position you are applying for, tailor your resume to the job, and be on your best game — both for the interview, and if you get the job, when you're working," says Alex Eckelberry, CEO of Sunbelt Software in Clearwater.

4. One resume just doesn't work. Target your resume to the position. And send your resumes via Priority Mail. It will be the first thing that is opened," suggests Tom Hoof, vice president, marketing and community relations for the Tampa Bay Rays.

5. Go to meetings your targets might attend where you can meet people who might be able to recommend you, offer you another contact or hire you. … Get as many business cards as you can from others. Then follow up. Not following through is probably one of the main reasons leads never turn into interviews," says Jeff Tucker, CEO of Tampa's Tucker Hall public relations firm.

6. Drive through the industrial parks in your area. Unlike most retail and commercial businesses, traffic is generally limited to those businesses within the park so employers are often more willing to talk with someone who's going door to door. … People want to help others, so ask for it," says Denise Sanderson, existing industry manager, Pasco Economic Development Council.

7. Put a plan together, stick to your plan and follow up with all that you meet, review your performance as you would any other employee. … You never know the lead you least expect to assist you may be the one that lands you a position," says Rick Garrison, chief operating officer of M2Gen, the new joint venture between Moffitt Cancer Center and Merck.

8. Concentrate on appropriate physical exercise in order to reduce stress and improve your self-image. … And find a not-for-profit activity that interests you and volunteer to assist in their activities. This will get you out of the house regularly and enable you to meet new friends and extend your network," says James Albright of the Albright & Associates health care recruiting and consulting firm in St. Petersburg.

9. Don't rely on the job boards. Firms are not posting jobs online due to high volume of applicants and the inability to process hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes. I can easily get over 500 national applicants for any senior executive position I advertise," says Tampa tech recruiter Fritz Eichelberger, host of the area "Pure and Shameless" tech networking socials.

10. Use this time to consider doing things your previous job may have 'trapped' you into not risking. Maybe now is the time to start your own business," says George Gordon, CEO of Tampa's Enporion, an Internet supply chain manager for the energy industry.

If these fail to help, consider Gordon's last bit of advice: "Keep your favorite inspirational reading material by your bed in plain view."

Stay positive. Good luck.

Robert Trigaux can be reached at trigaux@sptimes.com.

10 top ideas for finding a job in lousy economy 03/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 30, 2009 12:01pm]
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