From Career Services

Job Searching Against the Odds
Bonnie Jerke, Director, Career Services

He left the top of the small snow-covered, icy hill with his sled underneath him and was picking up speed. All of a sudden, the sled stopped (caught on a rock) and the rider went on without it. Well, I guess there’s more than one way to get to the bottom, but the latter method brought fear, bumps and bruises along with a shorter, less exhilarating trip. And so it could be with the job search when the odds are against you and your ride becomes a little less comfortable and ideal. 

There are a number of job seekers who have given up the search out of frustration and lack of success. They are no longer counted in the unemployment numbers. Whatever the reason for giving up, I would recommend continued perseverance and retooling to get back into the deliberate activity of locating quality employment. The labor market is fluid and so should be the job seeker. Unemployment rates of non-college grads are nearly double that of college grads, so let that liberal arts degree make the difference. Our students need to be filling their toolboxes with information, strategies, skills and determination to meet the job-search challenges and competition facing them. To be without this is like going down the hill without the sled.

The Oregon job market is stirring despite bleak predictions. The Oregon Economic Development Department recently conducted the first Future Hiring Survey, with results pertaining to the next six months. One-third of private-sector employers will be hiring and 12 percent expect to increase their total number of employees. Hiring will take place for over 350 occupations within specified occupational groups. Although economic conditions are not favorable for many employers, there is movement in the job market. It is replacement jobs that are available for now, but in six months it could look different and inspire more hope. (Oregon Labor Trends, January 2011)

The following are ideas that might bring positive results to a job search against all odds:

  1. Recognize the search will take longer, so plan for it. Ask God to be a partner.
  2. Networking is critical and requires connecting/relating in many different ways – and often. Be sure to have an “elevator” speech. Churches are setting up networking groups.
  3. Plan for more than one option so if plan A doesn’t work out within a certain timeframe, then you have the assurance of plans B and C to keep momentum.
  4. Move back in with parents or friends if possible in order to relieve the stress of the search and gain ongoing support.
  5. Become a master job seeker, which means going to the next level of creating professional documents and brand statements. Become a highly skilled interviewee. Learn to effectively communicate and market who you are and what you want.
  6. Volunteer or intern even if it’s unpaid. This could open doors that lead to full-time employment. Volunteering is good for entrance into the nonprofit field and internships for many other fields. Interning after graduation is becoming more available and popular.
  7. Seek temporary employment through staffing agencies or locate seasonal work. Focus on employers with larger entry-level hires.
  8. Reassess your career development plans and consider going back to school to build your competencies or prepare for a different career. 
  9. Become technologically savvy in your job search efforts. Learn best Web resources to access the myriad of tools/opportunities out there.
  10. View the current situation of unemployment or underemployment as only temporary, but make the best of it in terms of planning for your future.

The Career Services office at George Fox is ready to help our students become highly effective job seekers. It is our hope you and your student will recognize the need for such preparation – in addition to earning a degree – especially when times are tough. “When the situation gets tough, the tough get going” (Joseph P. Kennedy). It will take that extra intentionality to get this done.

Engage in Career Services, Envision Your Best Future
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