The technology sector has been battered for the past few years. On a national scale, the American technology sector lost 245,600 jobs in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Losses have hit each segment of the industry, but a closer look at the numbers reveals a great deal of localized inconsistency.
For example, some states, including Massachusetts, Washington, Texas and California, did well even in mid-recession 2008. At the same time, dark-horse candidates like Delaware and Virginia led the way in speed of job growth.
At the same time, some sectors are experiencing a mini-boom, with frothy valuations reminiscent of the dot-com bubble of the 1990s. Valuations are not the only bubble-like symptom. As the Wall Street Journal dutifully notes, “fierce competition among start-ups has necessitated extraordinary perks to attract and retain employees.” Airbnb, a booking site for vacation homes, has turned part of its space into a tree house. Gaming company Zynga serves its employees gourmet meals. The offices of Dropbox, an online storage company, feature one room equipped with drums and guitars and another reserved for Dance Dance Revolution, Konami’s arcade gaming hit.
This news is likely to be cold comfort to the high tech executive who has lost his job, but there are enough signs of life to give some hope amid the gloom.
Here are five concrete steps that can put your search on the right track:
Polish Your Resume
Your resume must be perfect. In simplest terms, this means that it must be up-to-date, free from misspellings and typographical errors. The format must be contemporary and professional. If you are tempted to try a minor update to an old resume, consider starting from scratch instead. Things change in every field and, if you are not familiar with current hiring practices, get help from a specialist who knows today’s landscape.
Go the Extra Research Mile
You may have an all-purpose resume that fits any number of positions, but that is not the resume that will catch an employer’s eye. A resume should be specific to its target. Research the employer and look carefully at the job description, because the company is telling you what it wants to hear. Your application should speak to that. It should touch on each job requirement or personal qualification as specifically as possible. Yes, this is much more work than stuffing envelopes with a generic resume, but it is many times more likely to pay off.
Practice for Good News
If it has been some time since you last interviewed for a job, practice interviewing with friends, family or, best of all, an employment professional. This is not a task that can wait until you have been offered an interview. It can take time to forge a style that is effective and natural. Interview opportunities are not plentiful and most of us can ill afford to squander a single chance. Be ready if called.
An elevator pitch is not just for elevators and a good pitch can be useful in many situations. If you cross paths with someone who can make a difference to your job search, be prepared. Think about what you might say in that situation and try it out. Your pitch should be brief, professional and friendly. It should feel fluent and natural. The irony, of course, is that delivering a natural pitch takes practice. Preparation is the key.
Extend Your Network
Now is the time to ramp up your network in all its incarnations. Stay in touch with colleagues and keep abreast of your field. Attend conferences, networking events and continuing education offerings. Maintain an active presence in the virtual world by participating in social networking sites, especially LinkedIn and any site devoted to your professional specialty. Take it one step further and show the world your worth, whether by answering questions in your field or by providing content to one of the many sites that accept outside contributions.