From the Irish Times:

Workers who have been laid off must take matters into their own hands if they want to find a new job, writes ROWAN MANAHAN

It is tempting when you see another economist on television, telling us how awful this recession is going to be, to pull the blankets over your head. Whether you are in a job but nervous for the security of that position, or if you have already lost your job, it’s not much help to hear that “life goes on.”

Nor is it much help when yet another economist tells you that the Pareto Principle applies – that 80 per cent of people will be unaffected by this recession. What practical, tangible idea can you take from that information? Estimates are varying as to how many people will be on the Live Register [signing up for unemployment benefits] in the coming months, so let’s look at it a little differently.

We had a peak of 2.2 million people in the workforce in Ireland. If those dismal scientists are right, we will still have 1.7-1.8 million people in the workforce when it bottoms out. That’s a lot of people. Out of 1.7 million people, how many have been promoted, decided to take early retirement, or suffered a major accident or illness? A very large number. And every one of those situations and many more like them is an opportunity for a job hunter.

When all you see in the news are job losses and when there are few, if any, advertisements in the usual channels – the national press, the recruitment websites and recruitment companies – you can be forgiven for thinking that there are no opportunities out there. But that isn’t the case.

There are many routes to find a new job. From the most passive upwards, the key ones are:

  • Waiting for the phone to ring
  • Print advertisements
  • Online advertisements
  • Placement agencies
  • Cold-calling employers
  • Personal contacts and your wider network

Most people looking for a job use approaches from the passive end of that scale. They scan newspapers and trade magazines, visit company websites, register with placement agencies and send off CVs. In a market such as ours, where the level of movement is very low, you cannot afford to have a passive approach. The only positions that are consistently being advertised are temporary posts and jobs that have to be advertised for legal reasons (under the rules of open competition for a public service role, for example).

Otherwise, employers aren’t hiring via traditional routes for a variety of reasons. Employers don’t even like hiring using those routes in a booming market and only use them as a last resort. From an employer perspective, advertising on the internet or in print is the equivalent of a deer hunter spraying bullets into the trees, hoping to hit something. They prefer to use more private and proven tactics when hiring talent. These are quicker, cheaper and far more effective.

So how do you tap into those routes? By becoming active and taking control of your job hunt. [By coming out of your cave!] Talk to any career management or outplacement company – they will all tell you the most effective routes of entry into the market are using personal contacts and your wider network.

In good times, about half of all positions filled, beyond entry-level or graduate roles, are via these routes. This year that figure is going to be much higher because employers will be slow to spend on advertising, placement agencies or the internet unless they have to.

People shy away from networking their way into a new job because (a) they don’t want people “knowing my business,” and because (b) the idea of networking makes their skin crawl.

What I would quietly say in response [and sometimes not so quietly] is that this is no time to be coy, shy or follow the old protocols. If you are job hunting, you need to let as many people as possible know. Otherwise they can’t help you, even if they want to.

Take solace in the fact that, for the large majority of your networking efforts, all you will look for is information. Modern networking is rarely about nepotism landing you a plum job; rather it’s about reaching out to those who know you and trust you to acquire knowledge that can lead to that plum job. So build your list of 30-40 people who matter, get ready to tell them your story and be ready to listen to theirs – that way you both get value from the relationship.

Rowan Manahan is managing director of consulting firm Fortify Services and author of Where’s My Oasis. He blogs at

Original article here.