Why You Should Ignore Negative Job-Market News

When did you last read such headlines as “340 People Newly Hired This Month!” “15,000 New Jobs Filled Last Quarter” or anything remotely resembling them in your local newspaper? Wouldn’t it be refreshing if you read an article mentioning how your state government was planning to hire 20,000 people next month?

Two major Northern California newspapers reported just those unusually positive headlines and related stories about state-created jobs in October 2002 and July 2003. The encouraging reports didn’t make front-page news, as do the more negative stories about the job market.

Instead, most employment-related headlines reflect only the dismal side of the job market: “1,078 Laid Off From Local Plant,” ” Job Situation Increasingly Desperate.” While the statistics reported in these stories may be true, the other side of the employment coin is equally true. Why not say heads instead of tails? Certainly, many people would benefit from knowing that jobs are still being created everywhere, even in companies that have just had massive layoffs.

It’s curious, too, how some reporters can skew their stories. If you ever have been interviewed for an article, you may know what I mean. I was recently interviewed about local job-market trends by a prominent reporter from a major Northern California newspaper.

She asked whether I thought the job market might turn around soon due to the waning recession, “No,” I said, “but the state of California just created 20,000 new jobs, and I know plenty of recession-proof job-search techniques. I’d like to tell you more about them.”

I then told her about experiments that showed how cold calling — also known as direct-contact techniques — helps job hunters to reach hiring managers and to secure jobs in companies that may not have advertised their openings. We talked for another 45 minutes about how profoundly these tactics accelerated the job-seeking process and how anyone could use them.

I was stunned to see what she (or her editor) chose to print. The column read: “I interviewed Marky Stein about whether there was an upturn near in the economy. She said ‘no.’ ” The article included only one word from the 45-minute dialogue. When I read it, I realized why so many unemployed professionals and executives who seek help from me or a colleague believe they will never find a job in this economy.

What causes these job seekers to reach this unhelpful conclusion is not only their own rejections and dead ends, but the headlines and “expert opinions,” possibly quoted out of context, portraying the job market as impenetrable — with no relief in sight.

I understand how painful and agonizing it is to look for work when there seem to be so few opportunities. In some cases, it may seem easier to give up. I recently spoke before a group of engineers who had been downsized from a Fortune 500 hi-tech company in San Jose, Calif. Most had been jobless for at least six months and many for a year or more.

Before I began my talk, I asked them “Do you think there are any job openings in the entire Silicon Valley?” Each audience member solemnly shook his or her head “no.” “None?” I asked, “not even one?” They echoed their previous response. Clearly, they were discouraged and ready to give up, if they hadn’t already.

How about you? Are you ready to give up because you believe there are no openings in your local area? Remember, you need only one job, not a ton of them. To reorient your thinking about opportunities, I’ll ask you the three questions I asked the California job hunters:

  • Do you think it’s possible that someone — just one person — quit, was fired or retired from a job that requires your skills within a 50-mile radius of your residence?
  • Do you think it’s possible that one hiring manager in this same 50-mile radius needs to hire someone with your skills in the next month but hasn’t yet taken the time to advertise the position?
  • Could there be a single start-up that got funded today that needs to have a staff and employees in place by next week?

In all three cases, you bet there is! Don’t give up because of negative articles about unemployment in the media. Jobs are out there, even though they’re hard to find. Search smarter, not harder. Consider using new techniques, such as cold calling hiring managers. When you find that one opening, all you need is a resume, a well-pressed suit, and a smile.

By Marky Stein

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employment, job, Job-Market, news