It's a tough time to look for a new job, whether you're unemployed or looking for a better opportunity.
Employers are skittish about hiring, while the pool of job seekers is only getting larger.
Unemployment is at a nearly five-year high at 6.1 percent. Last month, the economy lost 84,000 jobs, bringing the total to 605,000 jobs lost this year. Industries tied to financial services and housing have been hit hard.
And more U.S. employers are scaling back hiring plans in the fourth quarter compared with the previous three months, according to a recent survey by Manpower Inc. Of the 14,000 employers surveyed, 22 percent expect to increase staffing in the October-December period, compared with 26 percent in the third quarter.
The employment outlook in the Baltimore area is brighter, with 32 percent of companies planning to hire more workers in the last three months of the year, but at a slower pace than in the third quarter, according to Manpower.
The job search will test your patience and be demoralizing at times.
Some signs are indicating it is taking more than the typical six months to land a new job. Marc Cenedella, chief executive of search site Ladders.com, which focuses on executive jobs that pay $100,000 or more, says the company's recent survey found that fewer executive-level job seekers expect to land a job in six months or less.
Assuming you have the basics of the job hunt down, I've asked some recruiting experts for tips you may not have considered yet.
Todd Dewett, a management consultant and professor at Wright State University, suggests finding ways to prove yourself to a prospective employer. That could mean taking on a project for a reduced fee or on a contract basis.
Consider opportunities at small businesses, says Kevin Donlin, creator of TheSimpleJobSearch.com.
"They're truly the engine of our economy and can hire you faster with fewer interviews and more leeway for negotiating pay and job duties than larger Fortune 1000 companies," he says.
Expand your networking outside of your immediate industry, especially if your sector is suffering in this economy, says Robert Trumble, professor of management at Virginia Commonwealth University's business school and director of the Virginia Labor Studies Center.
One way is to contact suppliers and consumers about job opportunities, he says.
Lisa Tromba, vice president at executive search firm Battalia Winston International, says job seekers should find ways to market their "personal brand," the way corporations do. Your personal brand is a way to think about how you want others to see you in terms of your career goals and professional expertise, she says.
Volunteer to speak at a professional organization that matches your expertise or attend conferences to strengthen your connections.
"With an awful lot of people out there in transition and the competitive nature of vying for different positions, personal brand becomes very important," Tromba says.