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The Last Word

How to job hunt during shaky economic times
by Karen Evans, Director, Career Development Center

Lay-offs and unemployment are at an all-time high and many families, including Albright families, have felt the hardships of today’s economic challenges. We know that job searching when the market has taken a downturn can be terrifying and frustrating, but Albright’s Career Development Center (CDC) can help.

Albright’s CDC serves both students and alumni, providing services ranging from resume critiques and interviewing skills to networking opportunities and career resources. The increasing number of alumni making calls to alma mater for assistance with their job searches is in direct relationship to today’s economic challenges. However, the principles of a successful job search in an economic recession are a bit different, so here are a few tips that might be useful in landing your next great position.

You are the product: act like one! If you are seeking a job, you are essentially selling yourself. Think about what it takes to sell a product. You must“brand” your experience, skills and education.

Plan your strategy. Like your weekend to-do list, write your plan out—either long hand or on your computer, and try to assign a time line to each section. Keep notes about who you contact, how you contacted him/her, what the outcome was, when you need to follow-up, etc.

Research your industry. How can you know that an industry or company matches who you are until you know all about it? Read everything on the web site, go to professional organization web sites, and check out the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Handbook ( or O-Net ( By doing this you will help yourself to be certain that the career is right for you, and it will help you tailor your resume by using transferable skills and words of the industry. Research the companies that you want to apply to as well. Employers will ask you why you want to work for them, and you need to know this!

Tailor your resume. Employers read resumes in less than 20 seconds. They want to quickly determine if your experience meets their needs, so “package” your resume accordingly. Highlight those skills that are also required for your desired position. Use the language of the trade. You should change your resume around, depending upon where you are sending it. Target your cover letter to the specific job as well—plus address your letter to an individual rather than “to whom it may concern.”

Network, network, network! Create your“30-second commercial” and use it—often. If you are in a serious job search, you need to be talking to everyone and anyone about your goals and your attributes, and asking, “What advice do you have for me?” Join networking groups; look for social networking sites, and have your resume with you at all times.

Follow Up. Call people that you sent your resume to and ask what the timeline is for the interview or if they need additional information. (Do not ask, “Did you give me the job and why not?”) Call employers back, even if you talked to them two months ago. Thank everyone that helped you along the way (your network) with a handwritten, simple note card.

Learn how to succeed during the Behavioral Based Interview. When you get called for an interview, the BBI is the kind you will have. Employers are using this type of interview now because prediction of future performance can be based upon past behavior. So, rather than ask someone how he/ she would react if…, interviewers ask, “Tell me about a time that you had to make a hard decision, what was it and what was the outcome?” Answers to this are usually hard to make up and trained interviewers are able to spot lies. When you do your research about the job/industry, think about the types of skills that you will need. Then think of situations that you have been in where you displayed those traits. These are the stories you will use. Think of the STAR method: describe the Situation; tell the interviewer the Task that you had to complete; add the Actions that you took, and end with the Results, good or bad, and what you learned.

Follow up some more. Send all those people who interviewed you thank you notes. Call the primary contact a couple of days after he/she said a decision would be made. If you do not get the position, thank them for their time, and ask them, “What advice do you have for me?”

For more help with your job search, contact the Career Development Center at 610-921-7630 or

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