Job search in a recession, especially the recession we’re venturing into now, is hard enough without carrying the baggage of false information and interpretations. So I’m about to lighten your burden by pointing out seven myths you don’t need to believe in.
Myth #1: Nobody’s hiring.
Truth: There’s always some hiring. Yes, there’s more competition, but most of your competitors don’t know how to do a best practices job search. Do that and you’ll be ahead of the pack. Of course, it may take longer these days, so the sooner you get down to it, the better.
Myth #2: There’s no use approaching a company that’s just had layoffs.
Truth: Companies often hire following layoffs. Even during a hiring freeze some exceptions may be made. Most crucially, doing informational meetings now at a company you’re interested in will position you for success later, when hiring picks up. It takes time to build up a network of good contacts, so don’t wait until the job postings appear. Besides, the fewer job seekers are reaching out, the more easily you can get an informational meeting.
Myth #3: People don’t want to be bothered with informational interviews at a time like this.
Truth: Actually, when times are tough there’s extra goodwill in people’s hearts, a feeling of “we’re all in this together.” So ask.
Tip: Instead of asking for an “informational interview”–which can sound uncomfortably formal–ask if they’d be willing to talk, to offer you some advice. Say something like “I’d like to ask you about your experience and any insights you may have.” That kind of language is more inviting. For more tips, read my post “The Best Way to Make Contacts within Your Target Companies.”
Myth #4: You might as well just kick back and wait it out. A long resume gap in 2020 won’t look bad on a resume. Recruiters will get used to seeing it.
Truth: They may get used to it, but they won’t prefer it. While you’re job hunting, keeping busy with free-lancing, consulting, temporary gigs and/or volunteering (including virtual volunteering) can provide a wide range of benefits: a gap-free resume, new contacts, learning experiences, the satisfaction of contributing, and a feeling of accomplishment. It also demonstrates your strong work ethic and energy.
Myth #5: In a recession you have to broaden your search and consider types of jobs you wouldn’t otherwise be interested in.
Truth: The most effective job search in any job market is a targeted, proactive job search focusing on a specific type of role (or small set of closely related roles) that you’re well qualified for and interested in. A targeted search can get you hired faster than an “I’ll take anything” search where you’d spread yourself too thin.
Of course, you may want to avoid targeting an area of the job market that’s much less promising than others, so if you’re laid off from the hospitality industry or the airlines during a pandemic, it may be best to identify an alternative industry to focus on. Tip: Look at industries similar or related to your previous industry; you may have plenty of credibility there.
Myth #6: If you’re unemployed you should tighten your budget in every area, including job search expenses and career-related training.
Truth: Those are the last things to scrimp on when you need a new job. Find better ways to save money.
Myth #7: You can’t negotiate during a recession, so when you get an offer you’d better just say “yes!”
Truth: Even in a recession, an experienced professional can often negotiate a better package. Since future raises will be based on a percentage of your starting salary, why start with a handicap by accepting less than you can reasonably get?
Unload these myths from your mind and move forward with clarity, focus and energy.