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Bernice recently lost her job. Her email said, “I have been working for a long period of time, and I am enjoying my time off, getting my house in order, and taking care of my family.”

Although she was interested in returning to work in the future, she decided to “take a couple of months” before she commenced her job search.

Great idea, right?

Let’s analyze.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor, says that more than 40% of the unemployed have been looking for more than 27 weeks – more than six months. These are referred to as the “Long Term Unemployed.” And this figure does not include those who have stopped looking for work.

How long will it take Bernice to find her next career connection? Almost everyone underestimates how long it will take to find a new position. Frequently, these are people who have never needed to look for a job because good opportunities have always come their way, and they took them. They assumed the same would happen to them this time around.

In good times, one should allow between 3 to 6 months to find a position. But these are not good times. You must allow more time. You must be more aggressive.

One adage suggests that for every $10,000 in income, allow one month for your job search. If you are seeking a $60,000 job, allow a minimum of six months, or more. But there are variables that could easily affect the outcome. Is your background from an industry that is seeing dramatic increases in growth, or in an industry that is slowing down? The software industry verses the stagecoach industry. Cell phones verses telegraphy.

Economic conditions, age, and salary all affect job search length, as will the uniqueness of your skills.

Educated, skilled, young people with some experience under their belt are more likely to find a job more quickly than an older worker.

So what can you do to beat the odds? To find a job more quickly?

Author Robert Dickie published an article on Foxnews.com titled “Let’s Get to Work.” It outlines proven tips to finding your next job. He recommends that job search candidates first Accept Responsibility. He quotes Thomas Jefferson who said: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

Further he recommends that you “Know Yourself.” He says to “take serious time to reflect on where you want to be and what strengths you have.” What do you have to offer the job market? What skills, abilities, experiences and background make you unique, desirable, and hire-able? Rehearse your presentation. Review examples, stories, and incidents that prove your abilities. Skills rusty? Improve them. Take some training. Enhance what it is that you have to offer an employer.

Next he recommends Find a Mentor or Coach to help you with your job search. He says that a great mentor will be a person with a long track record. The greatest achievers in sports, in entertainment, in science, often have a strong mentor or coach to keep them on track, and to constantly improve their skills and abilities. The difference between an above average performer and a star performer is often a very small margin. Your mentor or coach may be able to help you to become a star.

Dickie also recommends that you Brand Yourself. He says that you are your number one product. That you must brand yourself digitally, especially on Linkedin. He also talks about Facebook, Twitter, and Aboutme.com.

Network Daily is his 6th recommendation. He says that nothing can beat personal connections. Join local business networks. Get involved in your community by volunteering with non-profits. Network. Network. Network. It is the most effective job search method of all time.

Want to work for a particular industry, or even a specific company? Your network will help you. Look for employees of your target companies on Linkedin. Ask them to become a connection.

Further, Dickie introduces the concept of considering part-time employment. Dickie points out that the American job market is transitioning to a Free Agent Economy, in which part-time, flexible and often short-term opportunities provide long-term income. As reported in USA Today “Many businesses plan to bring on more part-time workers next year, trim the hours of full-time employees or curtail hiring.”

TFI Resources, a Houston-based recruiting firm, says that “the demand for temporary and contract workers will increase substantially. Permanent hiring is likely to lag the surge in temporary and contract hiring as companies will be reluctant to add regular employees until there is a greater sense of confidence in the direction of their businesses and the economy in general.” So open your options, be creative in your thinking. Where do you fit?

And one must always Be Persistent. There is an opportunity out there for you.

In the beginning of this article we talked about Bernice (a true story). She wanted to take time off before she began her job search, and yes, a job search takes time. And it is important not to delay. One should not let skills become rusty and outdated. Bernice will automatically take time off because it will take time to find her next career connection. She can achieve both of her goals: To take some time off, and eventually become re-employed.

It is called a job search.

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