Job Help: Get Your Resume Read, Avoid Job Scams, Switch Careers

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When will the job market pick up again? Economists shrug their shoulders. Maybe by next summer—maybe. Until then, most workers have little choice but to stick with their current jobs, even though chances are they’re overworked, underpaid, and all in all unhappy. If you’re one of the unfortunate millions currently unemployed, the task of finding a job is downright daunting, especially because some employers make it a policy to only hire people who already have jobs—figuring that if they’ve survived layoffs so far, they have to be standout performers.

So if you’re hunting for work, you need all the help you can get. In the past, resumes were often dumped in the trash unread. Now it’s even easier for employers to get rid of them—just by clicking DELETE. Some company e-mail systems even do it automatically for staffers who are sick of being inundated with messages from candidates for jobs that do not exist. Here are some tips from a story about ensuring that your resume actually gets read. Among the tips are:

Do not use “Resume”, “Resume2,” or even “Biotech Resume” as the name of your attachment. An employer will receive many such attachments: how can they expect to locate yours easily? The attachment folder in our email program contains multiple files with such titles. It is much better to use “Name_Resume” or a title that will be unique to you …

Do not send a resume in the latest version of Word from Vista. Save it as an earlier version of Word and then send the attachment, because many companies do not use Vista.

Because of increased competition for jobs, would-be employees need to get creative. That might include taking a step backward—to hopefully later take two steps forward—by signing on for an unpaid internship. The WSJ reported that many folks in their late 20s and 30s with significant work experience have done just that.

Going back to school in order to switch careers is another trend. And what are people studying? To become truck drivers, auto mechanics, licensed practical nurses, and other workers in fields that (hopefully) cannot be eliminated or outsourced. According to USA Today, enrollment at vocational schools that train such professionals is way up, especially among people in their 40s and 50s who often have college degrees and are double the age of typical students.

Utilizing a staffing agency is another way to go. Alice Stein of staffing agency Randstad Professionals offers some tips:

1. Reach out to professional associations in your area and local chamber of commerces to find out what staffing agencies work with the companies you’re most interested in.

2. Contact the appropriate staffing company and be clear about what you want. A temporary job may be less than ideal, but many such positions can lead to full-time employment. It’s your foot in the door.

3. Figure out some way to make a personal connection with someone at the firm you’re targeting. Online networking sites like LinkedIn are one way, but connections made through alumni associations often provide a warmer, more personal entry.

4. Finally, some red flags: Never pay a staffing company (it should make money from a placement, not from the candidate); and if a recruiter is not responsive to your needs, is giving you the hard sell and is trying to shoehorn you into a position you think is not right for you, find a new recruiter.

Speaking of red flags, a few tips for avoiding job scams.