Most of my clients are experienced professionals in their 40’s or 50’s and come to me in the throngs of a failed job search. Usually their career has progressed easily through internal promotions or word of mouth referrals. Now faced with a struggling economy and a new job search arena, they feel unsure and even fearful of the challenge before them.

Suddenly they are 6 years old again and afraid to step off their bed for fear something is waiting underneath. Too afraid to look, they sit on their bed waiting for their mom to appear, then begs her to check for a safe path.

As adults, the wait for someone to come and hold your hand, help you look under the bed, and calm your fears might be a long one. There is help of course, in the form of certified career coaches and resume writers that are qualified to help with the process. We come with a flashlight and often a hug to light the way and rebuild confidence.

For those job seekers that want to overcome their fears themselves and succeed in a 21st century job search, the most important tip I can offer is to get educated. Things don’t seem as scary when you know how something works, what to expect and which strategies to use to succeed. Doing nothing only makes the fears grow and immobilizes you even longer. If you are like most job seekers, you really can’t afford to allow the fear of the unknown to threaten you and often your family’s wellbeing and safety for too long.

“…the only thing to Fear is Fear itself.” ~ FDR

It isn’t finding a job that is fearful, it is not knowing how to find a job and not knowing where to look that holds people back. So how do you educate yourself? You start small. While you are beginning your job search make sure to read blogs, articles and books on successful job search strategies – it will save a lot of pain and suffering!

While you are educating yourself, realize what type of job you are looking for and begin researching companies that support that kind of a position. Research 5 – 10 companies to find out their current needs, goals, culture and whether it is a company you would like to work for. If none seem to fit find, 5 -10 more and do it again. When you have located several companies that do seem to fit, have your resume written to specifically answer and solve the problems of those companies, targeting their needs using your career history to back up your abilities.

You can find these companies and contacts using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other online networking communities. Or you can work offline using the phone, knocking on doors and communicating face-to-face. I think a combination of the two works best. Finding contacts that can refer you directly to the hiring manager will put your resume on the top of the pile – every time!

If you are uncomfortable with communicating or networking with new contacts researching the contacts will help you feel more comfortable and give you specific content to use as ice breaker conversation. Find a few contacts for each company you have researched. Find out something you have in common such as, did you attend the same college, work at the same company, know mutual friends, or have similar outside interests; pets, sports, or volunteer activities? Even just by knowing their history will help to generate interesting conversation.

Doing your homework, having questions prepared and knowing the background of your potential targets will help you gently engage these new contacts. Your preparation can open doors to new connections, friendships and referrals. Remember to say and write thank you letters to your contacts and ask if you can reciprocate the assistance in some way.

The more you know the easier it will be to take that leap of faith, trust your preparation and look under the bed. You might be surprised to find a new job hiding under there!

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