What does a high-unemployment job market look like? For instance, with the huge increase in unemployment claims and an official unemployment rate close to 15%*, it looks grim. You could justify worrying about your prospects if you’re out of work or viewing it as a possibility. high-unemployment job market

I won’t offer a glib or sugar-coated view of the job market you’re seeing. It presents a daunting picture even to an optimist like me. (There’s a reason I label myself a “realistic optimist.”) However, I see no value in adopting a fatalistic outlook—what I call a “doom and gloom” mentality.

Can job seekers take practical steps to improve their odds in favor of job search success, even in today’s disturbed world? I believe the answer is yes.

Steps to Take in a High-Unemployment Job Market

An esteemed colleague, Jay Block, recently wrote a short post that relates to this challenge. His post, “Securing a Job in a 20%+ Unemployment Job Market,” lays it on the line and then offers a practical approach to make progress.

employer value messageJay begins by stating bluntly that today’s job seekers have to share their value with pinpoint accuracy to get–and stay–in the game. In other words, generalized or haphazard approaches won’t work. You need to share employer value clearly centered on your target job.

On the other hand, you can focus on a few key steps to put you in contention for targeted jobs. Briefly, Jay recommends the following:

  • Proudly and powerfully communicate your ROI.
  • Know the 3 most important “soft skills” you bring to the table.
  • Know precisely what specific achievements you have delivered in the past that would indicate you can produce them again.
  • Identify possible “red flags to hire” that might sabotage a job offer and then neutralize them.
  • Remember: People hire people they come to know, like, and trust. Work on communication strategies to establish this.

My Bonus Job Market Tips

I have a few of my own ideas to add to Jay’s list:

  • Avoid blindly comparing yourself to other job “hunters,” but adapt lessons you learn from their successes and mistakes when you can.
  • Look closely at how your value (what you’re best at doing) aligns with the companies you’d like to work for. For example, do your talents and abilities fit well into their culture and business model?
  • Build a strong relationship foundation to support a well-thought-out career marketing campaign. Give without always expecting a short-term payback—you never know when, how, or where your reward will come from.job search success

One last tip: Be prepared to move quickly when you spot an opportunity or when one somehow finds you. To modify an old saying: “He who hesitates is last”! As a result, you could miss the chance at the job you want. Your success might depend on making decisive moves at the right time.


* According to Fortune magazine, the real rate is closer to 24%.

P.S. I can help you develop and share your value message with potential employers. Give me a call (508-263-9454) or shoot an email to

(Part 2 of 2 on employment in the New Normal–See Part 1 here.)


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