How To Kick-Start a Stalled Job Search

The recession looks like it’s easing. Markets and housing starts are up. People are less fearful of losing their jobs…or are they? Until companies actively start hiring, anyone who has lost a job doesn’t see many "green shoots" on the horizon. Many individuals, who have been unemployed for months have polished their resumes, looked daily at the job boards or unemployment ads and networked with everyone they know. Yet, their job search has hit a plateau. Maybe it’s time for some new strategies.

Here are two unique ideas that may be worthwhile for job seekers to pursue.

The first technique is a skills portfolio, which is a supplement to a resume. Think of it as a "business scrapbook." A skills portfolio is especially useful if you have concrete examples of your work such as photographs of rooms you have redecorated if you are an interior designer, training programs, samples of speeches you have written or sales presentations you have created. Anything that can be shown through a concrete example can be an effective part of a skills portfolio. During a job interview, demonstrating tangible evidence of your skills can definitely help you stand out.

Another useful idea is seeking out "informational interviews." While job seekers often concentrate upon preparing for interviews they might obtain as part of a specific job opportunity, informational interviews are not meant to lead directly to a job offer. Job seekers need to understand that the informational interview is not the time to ask for a job. That’s because this type of interview is used to learn more about an industry, career opportunities or even how to improve your skills and experience to help you be better positioned to be successful in a new company or new industry. You should identify individuals who are knowledgeable about your chosen field or who know what it takes to succeed within a particular company culture and ask them to grant you a half hour meeting to share their insights and advice. In this way, you are gaining useful knowledge and also introducing yourself as someone who is motivated to work on personal improvement. Be aware, though, that if you land an informational interview, you must keep it true to the purpose and do not turn it into a job interview—unless of course, the interviewer wishes to take it in this direction.

By following these ideas, job seekers have new ways to energize their job search, and, they will also be better prepared to take advantage of economic opportunities in the very near future.