As long-term unemployment takes its toll on the psyches of millions of laid-off American workers, career consultants like Bill Jeffries of Tucson, Arizona, are being inundated with clients who are desperate for any tips that might help them find a job in this economy.
Jeffries, a senior career consultant and former broadcast executive, has been successfully helping people land jobs and reengineer their careers for ten years but he says his job has significantly changed since the recession.
"We used to see almost all people who wanted to upgrade their careers," Jeffries said. "Now, we see about 30 percent those people and 70 percent people who are unemployed, usually for an average of about 7 months. They come in exhausted, in tears... it's heartbreaking."
Jeffries said his success rate has dipped from 80 to about 65 percent since the recession, but he still manages to put the majority of his clients in satisfying, full-time jobs with a little coaching and grooming. The difference between finding jobs for currently employed people versus unemployed people boils almost completely down to confidence, he says.
"Anyone that comes in here wanting to upgrade their career, we're with them less than 3 months, because they're much more secure, confident, and their self-esteem hasn't been shattered, and employers know that," he said. "Out of work, people lose their skill sets and they begin to undervalue themselves. It's tragic."
Jeffries says he is confident that anyone can get a job with the right amount of effort and coaching, and he has offered HuffPost a list of his most important and useful jobseeking tips.
"Normal resumes don't indicate how you can help me, they indicate what you've done," Jeffries said. "Before you start writing a list of every job you've ever had, begin your resumé with three or four professional achievements and results. The document should make an impact and give an individual a reason to want to see you."
"We know through numerous sources that LinkedIn doesn't work," Jeffries said. "You need what we call a 'warm contact,' someone you can call to have lunch or coffee, even if they don't do anything close to what you do. That person can put you in touch with someone they know, and then your network will start to build."
"Today, professionalism has been lost to a certain extent," Jeffries said. "Too many people run around in a Polo shirt and a pair of Dockers. You need at least a shirt and tie and some nice slacks. Same level of formality for women--it's always better to be overdressed than underdressed. A successful job search starts with your appearance."
"Really go and put a list on a pad of paper: What achievements have I had that really stand out in my mind? What are the results I achieved for my employer? People who have been unemployed for a long time tend to lose their confidence and begin to undervalue themselves. You need to remember that employers can take your job, but they can't take away your achievements," Jeffries said.
"The unfortunate reality of applying to jobs online is that sometimes, your cover letter will get passed through a computer system that checks for certain keywords," Jeffries said. "Write a T-style cover letter that directly addresses each quality or skill mentioned in the job posting and matches it to a quality or skill you have, hitting all the important keywords so that your cover letter cannot be passed over."
"Resumés get the door open, but that doesn't mean squat unless you can really get in there and sell your value," Jeffries said. "There's a difference between being honest about what you can do and being blunt, bold and foolish. Maybe you made an accomplishment, but remember that other people helped you achieve it. Always embrace your achievements as 'we,' 'us' and 'team'... that's what companies are looking for these days."
"When you go to an interview, the first thing they almost always say is 'Tell me more about yourself,'" Jeffries said. "Every person who's looking for a job needs to write a 45-second commercial to respond to that question, because it leads to your opportunity to immediately lay on the table who you are in regard to your professional life. It's like writing a commercial for a bar of soap-- why should I buy this soap? How are you gonna help me?"