Dear Joyce: I have just noticed your column and find it very helpful. I never noticed it before because I was never without a job. Before this I got every job I ever applied for. But I'm running into a brick wall no matter where I turn. What suggestions have you? -- K.I.P.
My mail is full of letters like yours.
"Forget about finding a job that is meaningful, I need a job that means I will keep my house."
"A counselor told me to expect a month of job hunting for each $10,000 of annual income -- or five months for $50,000. Maybe it used to be that way, but now it takes three times that long or even longer."
"I check papers in four surrounding states, but I am beginning to wear down -- it seems hopeless to compete with hundreds of people for each job."
One woman, laid off in 1989 and again this year, says it's far more difficult to get informational interviews because employers are so swamped with resumes they don't have the time to see information seekers. A man says that at this point, he'll take a 40 percent pay cut to feed his family.
In job search, as in everything else, nothing works for all people all the time. That's why you must learn more about job search techniques than you ever wanted to know. And, as tiresome as the advice sounds, you absolutely must keep your spirits high while you juggle money problems and find a new position.
Maintaining morale is another reason why networking groups are valuable, such as those operated by local offices of public employment services. I don't know how many free groups are functioning across the nation like the professional networking groups in California established to aid jobless or underemployed white-collar professionals. But check in your area.
To jog your idea list, here are tactics suggested by Bob Calvert, publisher of Career Opportunities News.
Use a temporary job service. Temp work is a barometer of the job market, running six months to a year ahead. When business slumps and companies start letting people go, the hiring of temp workers is seen as a luxury and it declines. When the economy turns up, the companies often find themselves short of staff and hire temp workers.
Take any job you can to join an organization of interest. If you can scoot by the "overqualified" rejection, you've got a beachhead and can rise again. Beware of companies with a reputation for skating on the cheap. Some employers refuse raises on the basis of "he won't leave so we don't have to pay more."
Think about moving to a new area. Although an impractical idea for many, for others it's worth considering as economic conditions are not the same all over the country.
Review your job search strategies; attend workshops on hunting skills and practice interviews. Several nervy questions are turning up in interviews, such as "What is your level of debt?" The probe is supposed to show that anyone who is strapped financially will leave at the drop of a better offer. Just say, "I've always been prudent with finances and plan to be so in the future. Speaking of money, what compensation range fits this position?"
Try old employers. They may have a project or short-term position and by hiring you can eliminate excessive orientation.
A sample copy of Career Opportunities News, which discusses career trends, special opportunities for minorities and women and sources of career information, is available for $4 from Garrett Park Press, Box 190, Garrett Park, Md. 20896. Job professionals will love this publication.