In 2010, the Pew Research Center released a study that concluded what many of us have already observed: Re-employed workers—those who lost their jobs and are then hired elsewhere—are more likely to consider themselves overqualified for their current position, and are less likely to get a sense of identity from their work. In other words, they end up at jobs they don't really want.
Whether you've lost your job and are looking to be the exception to this rule, or if you'd like to trade your current position for one that better matches your qualifications, here are three strategies to help you receive an offer you actually want:
Go Back to School
It's not necessary to re-enroll in a trade program or work toward a four-year degree to improve yourself. Look into a local community college or adult education program; some schools will allow you to audit the course so you can fully participate without receiving a final grade or transcript. You can also take courses offered at your local library or from leadership and networking groups like Toastmasters International and Business Networking International.
Take classes that allow you to brush up on forgotten skills or teach you new ones. Completing these kinds of courses is both noteworthy and a source of well-earned pride. In addition to keeping your mind sharp, you can also develop a network with fellow students and instructors. Depending on the course, your current employer may cover part or all of your education costs, encourage your networking, and support your endeavors to become a better employee with your company.
Consider taking classes for fun. A swimming class at the community pool may not improve your resume, but it can relieve stress and provide a break from constantly refreshing your email for new job opportunities. It could also boost your confidence. The candidate who looks and feels healthy, and who appears to have hobbies, is often the most preferable.
Target, Test, Track, and Tune
Throughout the recession, we heard this familiar complaint: Though hundreds (or even thousands) of resumes were sent, there's still no job offer. Worn down or dejected by their prospects, many job-hunters fail to understand the wastefulness of submitting poor resumes.
Instead of sending off a slightly differentiated resume and cover letter to every job posting, invest the necessary time to target the right companies, test different styles or strategies, track your results, and continue to tune the process until you have the job you desire. It's a more time-intensive process, but with the balance of time in your favor, now is the moment to be heavily invested in your career's future. Begin by tracking your resume submissions and researching one company in depth.
Tone Down the Desperation
Unemployment or underemployment can rewire priorities in a matter of days, but no matter how urgent your situation may be, you must learn to temper the desperation. It's certainly a real struggle though. A recently relocated Facebook friend of mine posted that he had begun to "flip through the phone book, call a company on the page and ask for a job" on a daily basis. If your strategy is more whimsical than tactical, the results will reflect accordingly.
No matter the economic climate, businesses need profits and are going to hire the best candidates for the positions available. The applicant who will be offered the job is the one who has thoroughly researched the industry, understands the company, targeted the position and arrived prepared and undaunted. Those who continue the path of mindlessly sending resumes and staying cocooned at home—wondering why unemployment is lingering on for so long—may eventually find work. However, if the newly re-employed hire still feels overqualified, then the new position won't last, and the cycle will start all over again.
If you once were happy with a job—any job—and now find yourself resentful and frustrated with your prospects, all is not lost. By following these strategies, you may prove a more attractive candidate; if not to your current company, then to your next. By continuing to research and apply yourself, you can confidently go for the job you want and not just be satisfied with the job you have.
Kelly Azevedo is the founder of She's Got Systems, a custom coaching program that leads clients to get support, documenting and dominating in their fields. She has worked in successful six-figure and million-dollar online businesses, helping owners create the systems to serve their startup needs. The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.