Page last updated at 00:11 GMT, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

How to get a job in a recession

Jobs fair in Glasgow

People are getting new jobs daily. There is no reason why you should not be one of them, says author and careers consultant Harry Freedman.

The key to getting a job in a downturn is to be as visible and connected as you can. Even though there are very few jobs on the open market there is always activity and you need to be well placed to take advantage of it.

Employers will always prefer to recruit someone who has been recommended to them and to pay as little as possible for doing so. When money is tight the first thing they will do when looking to recruit is to ask around and find out who is available.

This means you need to network. It is not a comfortable process for many people - but it works and is well worth it. Networking is not about asking strangers to do you favours, or to get you a job. It is far more subtle than that.


Networking is about exchanging information. As a networker you have something to offer your contacts, perhaps not now but possibly in the future.

Maybe you know someone you can introduce that person to. As you do it more, so your network grows and this opens up opportunities that would not otherwise have presented themselves, often completely out of the blue.

You should also look at the online networking sites like Linked In , Business Scene and Xing . However nothing is more valuable than face to face networking with trusted contacts, online relationships rarely generate the same quality of contact.

You may want to consider getting some professional help with your networking, both to establish a list of contacts and to work out how to approach them.

Organisations like Career Energy , Executive Action and Fairplace Consulting will help you to identify why you are unique and what you can offer, as well as helping you to develop your networking strategy.

Focused search

In a recession it is important that you focus on industries where opportunities are likely to exist.

Harry Freedman, author
Although your priority may be to get back into work at any cost, the job you do take does have to be right for you
Harry Freedman

The sectors that do better in a recession include those where people can save money. Such as supermarkets, home entertainment and cinema. There are also opportunities in education which seems to introduce new recruiting initiatives nearly every week.

Longer term we need to look at the likely trends in the post-recession world.

We know that the government will be pushing the green agenda, so investigate the green technology sector.

Companies recovering from the recession will be outsourcing many of their functions as they get back on their feet, so look at opportunities providing back office or support services.

Turnaround services will be in demand, again this may provide opportunities.

Knowledge is key

If you are considering moving into a new sector it is essential that you do your research.

You will not get a job in this climate unless you can walk into an interview and talk knowledgeably about the company and their sector, identifying their problems and opportunities and articulating the contribution that you can make.

Some of the best free sources of research information are Careers Advice who provide information on a wide variety of roles, including tools to assess your skills, interests and career values; Career Shifters which offers help and advice to people wanting to change career; Target Jobs which offers sector and employer profiles together with a useful FAQ and glossary and Careers A-Z , the UK gateway to careers information online.

[In addition, there are free services for jobseekers in Scotland: Careers Scotland and PlanIT Plus. ]

The decision as to which sectors to target is an important one. It requires both short term and medium term considerations.

Although your priority may be to get back into work at any cost, the job you do take does have to be right for you. It needs to keep you engaged and to motivate you. Otherwise you may be creating more problems than you solve.

Harry Freedman is chief executive of Career Energy. He is also the author of How to Get A Job In A Recession.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by the BBC unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute any form of advice.

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