Effective Habits for Job Seekers in a Down Job Market
Sarah Brodsky / JANUARY 13 2021

When the hospitality market is booming, you can land on some opportunities without putting in much effort. But when the market is more challenging for job seekers, you really have to be intentional about your search. Adopting these habits can boost your effectiveness in a down market and help you get through the tough slog of looking for a new role.

Update your resume and profiles

Make a list of all your job search documents, which might include your resume or CV, cover letter, statement of purpose, and list of references. Then add your profiles on career sites and job boards, plus any professional accounts on social media. 

Schedule a recurring time each week to review everything and make sure all the information is current. If you update all your documents and profiles at once, you can be confident that they’re accurate. And you won’t have to worry about employers finding discrepancies, such as your resume and LinkedIn profile listing different jobs for your most recent one, due to some details being out-of-date. 

Apply to lots of jobs

No surprise, it’s harder to find a job in a down market, and each time you apply for a position, there’s a good chance the employer is going to say no. Try to apply to more jobs than you normally would to increase the probability that something works out. You might need to broaden your search to include a wider geographic area or a variety of roles.

Stay organized

Follow an organization system to keep track of all those applications. This system could be a spreadsheet on your phone, a stack of index cards, or a list on a whiteboard. Whatever you choose, you should have a way to note the position and the employer and to update the status of each application.

Keep in touch with contacts

Call or email former coworkers and supervisors and let them know you’re looking for work. Some of them may know of open positions. They might even agree to pass along your name to departments in their companies that are hiring.

When anyone in your network helps you out, make sure to send them a thank-you note afterward.

Answer your phone professionally

You never know when a hiring manager is going to call. Try not to set your phone on mute (unless you’re in a job interview or another situation where it’s absolutely necessary). When your phone rings, make a habit of politely greeting the caller, stating your name, and asking how you can help them. If you do this every time you answer the phone, it’ll be automatic when there’s a potential employer on the other end. This can help you make a great first impression, which may give you an edge in a competitive market.

Stay busy

Your job search is probably going to take up a lot of your time. But it’s a good idea to have another activity you can do when there’s a lull in your schedule. Pick something like pursuing a hobby, volunteering, or learning about a topic that’s meaningful to you.

Having an activity you care about will help you stay grounded if a rejection email comes in. Plus, it gives you an easy source of small talk and an answer to getting-to-know-you questions when you interview. If the interviewer asks what you’ve been up to lately, you can mention what you’re working on, demonstrating that you’re well-rounded and there’s more going on in your life than the 9-to-5 grind. 

Have a backup plan

Since there’s no guarantee you’ll land the job you want immediately, it’s smart to have a backup plan laying out what you’ll do if offers don’t materialize. This doesn’t mean giving up on your dream job; it just means you’re being pragmatic and you’re prepared for the possibility that there might be some unexpected detours on your journey. 

Your backup plan could be to take a temporary job while you continue to search for a full-time position, to go back to school, or to pursue self-employment or pick up some gig work.

Take care of yourself

Applying for jobs is especially nerve-wracking in a down market. You may be rejected for several roles before you get an offer. Remember to take some time to de-stress and reward yourself for your hard work. Cooking some comfort food, watching a movie, or soaking in a bubble bath are a few ways to take your mind off your pending applications.