The unemployment rate has been taking dips, dives, and regains over the past four years. For the jobless and unemployed, President Barack Obama has a plateful of issues to handle in the coming months. In the coming weeks, the U.S. will be on the literal brink of the "fiscal cliff", which includes pending discussions on budget agreements, spending cuts, payroll tax cut extensions, and for our purposes, the possibility of extended unemployment benefits.
On Jan. 1, 2013, unemployment benefits will expire if Congress doesn't approve an extension. If these benefits aren't extended by that date, more than two million people will lose their benefits at the beginning of the year. Not a nice way to start the new year, right?
While there are some pending decisions that must be made, and made soon, large changes in unemployment and the job market won't be seen immediately in the new year. So instead of waiting and wallowing, let's be proactive.
Are you currently unemployed, or have you given up on looking and completely withdrawn from the job market? If so, let's revamp your thought process and your job search strategies for 2013. Here's how:
1. Take a serious look at your current skills and resume.
I know this advice probably seems redundant. But when I say "take a serious look at your skills," I mean this: Know your value. Whatever your industry or trade, you have a unique set of skills and personality traits that benefit a company. What are they? Now, create an elevator pitch that will convey these great benefits to an employer or new job contact. If possible, show how you can impact a company by the numbers, not by being "punctual" or "detail-oriented."
2. Emphasize more on the social.
We've heard a whole lot about harnessing social media in your job search in 2012. But it's not going away in 2013. In fact, social media is likely to become more important. Why? Because hiring managers and recruiters are taking notice to social media hiring strategies. Take a serious look at how LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook each work in the job search realm. Also, be sure to pay attention to the new, trending tools and apps that are emerging to help people in their job search. The more tools you have in your toolbox in 2013, the better.
3. Try using niche job boards, in addition to the big names.
While sites like Monster, craigslist, and CareerBuilder are nice, using niche job boards can help refine your job search to find jobs that better fit your skill set. This will also save you a lot of time and potentially give you less competition. Because niche job boards are for a specific job industry, there tends to be a smaller applicant pool when compared to larger job boards. For example, if you're looking for jobs in law, try using LawJobs.com.
4. Let your network get to know you too.
It's sad but true -- landing a job is often about who you know. But it's also about making sure they know you and the skills you offer. A quick LinkedIn introduction and one-time email won't suffice in 2013 (and it didn't suffice in 2012 either).
If you're serious about reentering the workforce, start networking today. Reconnect with past colleagues, employers, professors, classmates, and neighbors. But don't make it all about finding a job -- catch up first and then be very specific about your needs. Do they have any contacts they'd be willing to introduce you to? Better yet, do they know of any job openings? If not, ask them for their advice.
5. Settle for an internship, apprenticeship, or volunteer work to get your foot in the door.
If the job offers aren't rolling through, sometimes it makes more sense to settle for a lower paying position if job growth is possible. Don't be discouraged; all things happen in good time. But sometimes and internship or apprenticeship is the way to go, especially if you're interested in switching careers. Not sure if there are internships available? Just ask the company you're interested in! Look back to my advice in number one -- use that elevator pitch.
6. Schedule informational interviews and bring plenty of thank you cards.
One of the best ways to extend your network and get your foot in the door is to schedule informational interviews. If you've already reconnected with your network, use the new contacts you've generated to schedule informational interviews. These interviews are just as they sound: informational. Don't go to the meeting expecting a job offer. But bring your resume, business card, and any other materials just in case. As always, it's great to have thank you cards on hand as a follow-up after one of these meetings, too.
7. Stay positive in 2013.
My last bit of advice for moving forward with unemployment in 2013 is to stay positive. Easier said than done, I know. But once you start becoming more active again, you'll start feeling better about yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day. In other words, it's going to take some time. But if you are ready to rev up your job search in 2013, we might not have to wait for politicians to do it for us.
What hopes do you have for unemployment in 2013?
Sudy Bharadwaj is a co-founder and the CEO of Jackalope Jobs, a platform that helps job seekers find a job via their social networks. Learn how Sudy and Jackalope Jobs obsess over job seekers by connecting with them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Follow Sudy Bharadwaj on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JackalopeJobs