Ignore The Numbers. Get a Job.

For all the hyped significance of the job numbers, they shouldn't make much of a difference to you.


You can’t pick up a paper, thumb through a magazine, listen to the radio, watch TV, or log on these days without being pummeled by the relentless news: Unemployment is up. The economy is down. The sky is falling and it's aimed right for your head.

As if looking for a job wasn’t hard enough.

You’re tempted to just stop consuming news. You’re tempted to just give up the job hunt. But you need to keep up with the world, and you need to find a job.

What to do? Consider these words of wisdom from Dr. Cox on ABC's Scrubs: “Statistics mean nothing to the individual.” Cox was talking about appendicitis (in an episode called “My Hard Labor” ) but he could just as easily have been talking about joblessness and the current economy.

Dr. Cox knows, and you should know, that statistics are useful when describing large populations. But you are only one person. You need only one job. Using statistics as an indicator of your individual chance of success is not only discouraging, it’s downright unrealistic.

Here’s an idea: Get used to thinking of yourself as an exception. And then position yourself, in the eyes of potential employers, as an exception. (You do this by clearly describing yourself and what you do in terms of profit generation. That’s what employers care about—the old bottom line!)

Yes, 13 million of people are out of work. But that’s them. You’re you. Show yourself as capable, independent, motivated, and knowledgeable—the exception—and you have just greatly increased the odds of landing the job you need.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009. She blogs at karenburnsworkinggirl.com .


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