Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the Chicago-based outplacement firm, is offering two days of free phone counseling next week to anyone looking for a job, whether they are unemployed, seeking to switch jobs or re-entering the job market after a long absence. Challenger will have special lines dedicated to current and former military personnel.
On December 27 and 28, job seekers can speak with one of Challenger's professional counselors between 9am and 5pm CST by calling 312-422-5010.
Last month, the national unemployment rate among all entire civilian non-institutional population rose to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent a month earlier. More than 15.1 million Americans are jobless, with nearly 42 percent of those out of work for 27 weeks or longer.
"The situation is definitely frustrating right now," John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm, noted in a press release. "There are some positive signs, such as 11 consecutive months of job gains in the private sector. However, the gains have come at a very slow pace. It often looks and feels like every two steps forward is met with one step back."
Part of a successful job search is being in the right place at the right time, Challenger says. "What we try to impart on callers seeking job-search advice are some strategies to increase the odds of them being in the best position when job openings do materialize," he said. A few of his tips for job seekers include:
-Take advantage of professional and social networks. Don’t let your pride stand in the way; as soon as you are laid off, let everyone know that you are seeking a position. The more people who know, the greater your chances of hearing about new opportunities, meeting the right people and getting a foot in the door.
-Don’t bother sending out hundreds of resumes and responding to online and newspaper help wanted ads. "Unfortunately, simply posting resumes on Internet job sites and answering classified ads rarely work, even in a good job market," Challenger explains. "These activities are even less effective in a weak job market." Network face to face as much as possible instead, and expand your parameters to include a wide variety of industries, companies and cities.
-Don’t rule out companies that are struggling, as they are looking for talented people who can help turn around the business.
-Don’t take a holiday from interviewing. Many job seekers take a vacation from the job search this time of year, figuring that no one is hiring. This is a mistake, says Challenger. You might even have a better chance of getting face time with a potential employer because business is a little slower.