With the unemployment rate holding steady around 9.4% as of July 20091, many out-of-work job seekers are beginning to feel the pressure of a struggling economy. Additionally, recent graduates are finding that the options they expected when they started school simply aren't available. However, some job seekers — established professionals and new grads alike — are beating the trend by keeping their options open.
For starters, job seekers are beginning to look in industries and sectors in unrelated fields. According to the Associated Press2, "People who have been out of work for months are lining up for jobs at places they once considered unthinkable." In some examples, job seekers have found opportunities at meat processing plants, prisons, or as part of sewage and sanitation teams.
While many job seekers balk at the idea of stepping outside of their career track, many jobless find that they must return to work to pay bills. From the perspective of long-term career development, getting back to work—even in an unrelated field—can make good sense. When it comes to the common screen-out factors or red flags that hiring managers watch for, long gaps in employment is a commonly targeted area of concern. However, the appearance of multiple short-term positions (or "job hopping") can also present concerns on a resume, so a job seeker who takes a position out of their primary career focus should consider staying there for as long as it takes to get back on track.
For many job seekers, especially new graduates, there is another option besides taking a less attractive position: relocation. One major advantage to a country the size of the US is that economic hardship does not affect every region in the same way or to the same degree. This can be seen in Forbes' findings as to the best places to move for a job3. This in-depth study accounts for earnings, cost of living, population, and employment to assess comparative data.
The top-five results are...
While the study is targeted toward new graduates, largely because they are often the most mobile demographic among job seekers, the trends indicate some distinct possibilities for professionals able to pull up roots and move to take a new position. The article notes, "When talented, recent college grads take their first job, they're often picking a place or industry based on where they see the best long-term growth potential, not what they'll immediately earn." This advice works equally well for job seekers who are discouraged at the prospects in their field or geographic area.