Get hired dur­ing an eco­nomic down­turn

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Work & Money - By Tracy Brower Fast Com­pany

Un­em­ploy­ment is at an all-time high and right now, it's harder to get hired than years and decades past. But all hope is not lost. There are ways to get no­ticed and sep­a­rate your­self, and to get the job, even when job open­ings are scarce.

First, con­sider these en­cour­ag­ing statis­tics: Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study by SHRM (the So­ci­ety for Hu­man re­source Man­age­ment), among 2,278 mem­bers, 17% of em­ploy­ers were ex­pand­ing their busi­nesses and 13% were hir­ing. In ad­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to its an­nual global CEO sur­vey, PwC found 74% of CEOs are con­cerned about the avail­abil­ity of skills in their re­spec­tive work­forces.

The bot­tom line: Com­pa­nies need great em­ploy­ees with strong skills to grow their busi­nesses. Par­tic­u­larly those who are un­afraid to take an un­con­ven­tional and bold ap­proach.

So how can you get hired when it seems no one is hir­ing? Es­tab­lish­ing a strong start to your process is key, along with find­ing the best ways to lever­age your net­work, your cre­ativ­ity, and your dis­tinc­tive skill sets.

As the job mar­ket has con­tracted, em­ploy­ers have more choices, so they can se­lect the cream-ofthe-crop can­di­dates.How­ever, wher­ever you are in your ca­reer pro­gres­sion, stay on top of your area of ex­per­tise. De­velop the new­est skills crit­i­cal to the type of role you want to land.

Set the bar high. Com­mit real en­ergy into your net­work.

Net­work­ing is one of the non­nego­tiables if you're go­ing to get hired. It's crit­i­cal to tap into the hid­den job mar­ket and nur­ture con­nec­tions that will in­tro­duce you to hir­ing man­agers. Reach out to peo­ple who you know well, but also fo­cus on build­ing links with peo­ple who are new ac­quain­tances. Known as “weak ties,” peo­ple you know less well can in­form you about a new open­ing sim­ply be­cause they have ex­po­sure out­side of you and your typ­i­cal, more con­densed net­work.

Take on that in­ven­tive mind­set.

Con­sider rec­om­mend­ing a new role, a con­tri­bu­tion, or a skill set you be­lieve the com­pany needs but may not have thought of them­selves. A man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany may need an ex­pert in plant lay­out to re­duce virus trans­mis­sion, or a re­tail store may need some­one who can in­no­vate cre­ative ways to wel­come cus­tomers while so­cial dis­tanc­ing.

An­other way to get in the door may be to of­fer the com­pany the op­por­tu­nity to give you a test run. A friend of mine of­fered to work for free for eight weeks so the com­pany could test her skills and her fit. An­other friend of­fered to do a salar­ied job on a com­mis­sion-only ba­sis for three months to prove her­self to the com­pany. While these strate­gies will gen­er­ally work bet­ter with smaller, less for­mal com­pa­nies, they may be worth a try at even larger firms.

Ar­tic­u­late your fit.

When you talk to a po­ten­tial em­ployer, tell your story in a com­pelling way. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to just go through a list of your pre­vi­ous roles. Ac­cord­ing to An­gela Burke, pres­i­dent of Pal­la­dian West, an ex­ec­u­tive re­cruit­ing firm, it is es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive to pull out themes from your ex­pe­ri­ence.

Per­haps you're a skilled prob­lem­solver or some­one who is es­pe­cially or­ga­nized or the one per­son who can en­er­gize a team. High­light these kinds of strengths across your ex­pe­ri­ences.

In a tight job mar­ket, it is best to play to your ex­ist­ing strengths. Deb­o­rah Rousseau, lead tal­ent ac­qui­si­tion part­ner for Poly, a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany, says “You'll be com­pet­ing with peo­ple who al­ready have skills in the area where you may be try­ing to grow, so this isn't the time to try and stretch to a job be­yond your cur­rent skill set. In­stead, em­pha­size your ex­ist­ing core com­pe­ten­cies.”

At­tract re­cruiters with an ex­act­ing ré­sumé.

In ev­ery role, you'll be a mem­ber of a team and how you play will mat­ter. Burke says, “Think about the team you'll join and mar­ket your­self based on what you bring to the team and how you will add some­thing unique and valu­able.” Also be spe­cific about the role. Rousseau says, “Cus­tom­ize your ré­sumé for each role by high­light­ing your rel­e­vant ex­pe­ri­ence in a sum­mary or as the top bul­lets in your work his­tory. You can also iden­tify the spe­cific po­si­tion to which you're ap­ply­ing at the top. Re­cruiters are mov­ing quickly, so make it easy for them to see the match.”

There's an­other pan­demic un­der­way right now, and it is spread­ing fast, ac­cord­ing to the FBI. It's fi­nan­cial iden­tity theft, trig­gered by the mil­lions of dol­lars be­ing doled out quickly by dis­or­ga­nized and un­sus­pect­ing state un­em­ploy­ment of­fices.

The odds are that your fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion is out there some­where on the “dark web” — stolen in the Equifax breach, the Tar­get breach or the myr­iad of other leaks of per­sonal fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion. Now, the nether­world has fig­ured out a use for your stolen name, ad­dress, So­cial Se­cu­rity num­ber and birth­date.

They are ap­ply­ing for un­em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance, us­ing your in­for­ma­tion but di­rect­ing the ben­e­fits to newly opened bank ac­counts us­ing their own email ad­dresses. In an era of on­line bank­ing, you might never know that a claim was filed and an ac­count was opened in your name.

Many peo­ple have re­ceived debit cards pur­port­ing to be filled with ben­e­fits from state un­em­ploy­ment of­fices — even though re­cip­i­ents are of­ten el­derly and have never ap­plied for ben­e­fits. The FBI sus­pects the thieves have “in­side” help, al­low­ing them to syphon off the money or re­di­rect it to fraud­u­lent check­ing ac­counts.

An­other fast-growing as­pect of the scam in­volves fraud­sters us­ing stolen credit in­for­ma­tion to ap­ply for small busi­ness loans from the U.S. Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion, which has been swamped with aid re­quests. In­di­vid­u­als check­ing their credit re­ports have found “hard in­quiries” from the SBA and then learned loans were taken out in their name.

Just as­sume that your iden­tity is out there on the dark web. Your job is to con­trol the way thieves can use it. So take these steps:

Put a freeze and a fraud alert on your credit re­port at each of the three credit bu­reaus. There is no charge for this ser­vice. It means no one can in­quire about your credit or open new ac­counts. You'll re­ceive a PIN to ‘un­freeze' your ac­count if you need ac­cess to re­fi­nance your mort­gage or for a job in­ter­view or other pur­pose. You'll find di­rect links to the bu­reaus at www.An­nu­alCred­itRe­port.com.

Read your credit re­port. Look for newly opened ac­counts, as well as “in­quiries” from fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies, banks and even out-of-state un­em­ploy­ment of­fices. Bank ac­counts do not show up on your credit re­port. But an in­quiry from a bank might mean some­one tried to open an ac­count in your name. Con­tact that bank to make sure it didn't hap­pen.

Re­port any fraud­u­lent at­tempts to use your credit in­for­ma­tion. It is al­most im­pos­si­ble to get through to state un­em­ploy­ment agen­cies to re­port fraud. Po­lice and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have other prob­lems to deal with.

The best au­thor­ity to re­port this kind of fraud to is the FBI, us­ing these con­tacts: 1-800-CALL-FBI or www.tips.FBI.gov.

The FBI will have at least two peo­ple re­view any tips ei­ther to the hot­line or to this web ad­dress.

Keep records of your at­tempts to re­port sus­pected fraud. Take a screen­shot of your at­tempt to re­port fraud to un­em­ploy­ment agen­cies, po­lice and even to the FBI. This will be an im­por­tant record of the fact that you did not re­ceive money from these scams.

It's scary to think of your­self as an iden­tity theft vic­tim. Even worse, most peo­ple won't even know their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion has been used for fraud. That is, they won't know un­til early next year when they re­ceive a 1099-G tax form from the govern­ment in­form­ing they must pay in­come taxes on money that was al­legedly sent to them.

That will be a huge has­sle to un­wind — and the IRS is ready­ing sys­tems to deal with this prob­lem. And that's when records of your at­tempt to re­port a fraud will be help­ful in con­vinc­ing the govern­ment you never re­ceived the money.

Fed­eral of­fi­cials have no idea of how far and deep this iden­tity theft pan­demic has swept the na­tion. Like COVID-19 test­ing, many vic­tims of ID theft are asymp­to­matic — never imag­in­ing that it could hap­pen to them. That's why it's so im­por­tant to read, and then freeze your credit re­port.

And that's The Sav­age Truth.

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