I recently took an entire Sunday afternoon and cleaned out my walk-in closet.  The task, which elicited the same level of excitement as being rolled in honey and fed to fire ants, was vastly overdue as the last time I went through my wardrobe was sometime during the Clinton administration.

As I sorted out the clothing in into their respective piles of “gone, maybe, and stay,” I realized the task was also a bit sentimental.  With a lump in my throat and queezy feeling in my stomach, I piled for donation among other things, Wisconsin Badger and Chicago Bear sweatshirts, an array of Cosby sweaters, banded collar shirts, 80’s rock band gear (Dokken and Whitesnake made the cut and stayed), and obnoxiously patterned polo shirts.  Each piece had a story and a place in my history, and with some items, I felt like I was losing an old friend.

But times change.

As a career coach who speaks with hundreds of individuals each year, I often find the same holds true for many job seekers.  Some are all too tied to search strategies that, like my much of my now former wardrobe, were also last effective sometime during the Clinton administration.

We all have a tendency to hold on to comfortable behaviors, beliefs, and practices.  I use a BlackBerry, but just can’t seem to part with my good old Day Runner pencil-and-paper-style planner either.  But in the job search, what may have been effective just a few years ago in terms of getting you noticed and getting you hired, may not work at all right now.

The rate of change in the job market and all things business is more rapid now than ever before, so I have kicked the job searching skills into high gear to share what’s hot, what’s not, what’s in, what’s out, what’s new and now, and what’s sooo yesterday.

Never fear!  You no longer run the risk of being a trend-gone-wrong “job search leisure suit.” I have taken out all of the guesswork, and lucky for you… Ascend Career and Life Strategies knows What’s Hot and What’s Not and most of all, what WORKS real-time for getting you hired in 2010!

What’s NOT

Job Boards: Do you always bet the long shot? The odds of successfully navigating the application and subsequent interview process and ultimately winning the job via a posting on a major internet job board are about 200-1 (you’re better off taking 8-1 on Tiger entering the monastery).  That means for every one person who lands their next gig via the Big Board, 199 others are finding work through some other method, usually networking and word-of-mouth.

Generic Resumes and Standard Cover Letters: There is simply too much competition right now for the good jobs among highly qualified applicants to take a bland, vanilla approach.  Utilizing a chronological resume that describes you as a jack-of-all-trades (and ultimately master of none) is a sure-fire method for ensuring a long job search.  Determine your respective job search targets and assemble a Branded Resume for each type of job you are pursuing. Couple it with a highly-focused and detailed cover letter or V-Letter where appropriate.

“Y2K Tactics”: Back in 2000, I would receive a voice mail from a recruiter at least once a week saying he’d found my resume posted on a job board and had an opportunity for me.  The interesting thing was is that my resume was outdated and mostly generic, but still garnering attention.  On occasions when I was actively looking for positions, I would surf the job boards and click “Apply Now” until my finger was sore, sending the same resume to any and every job that looked somewhat appealing…and it worked. But in 2010, less is more which means focusing on a few opportunities that are deemed a solid fit and then taking the time to produce A+ work when applying to the position; sending a highly customized resume and cover letter detailed to the job’s most important duties and responsibilities. “Connect the dots” and show that you are a solid fit!

C+ Work and “Pikers”: If there’s a silver lining in any economic downturn, it’s that companies are forced to trim their rosters keeping only the best of the best.  2010 is no place for professional pikers, clock-watchers, or C+ employees.  These are the worker-types that promote workplace apathy while compromising product quality, integrity, and service. They really ticked me off because I usually had to carry the extra load!  Ensure you’re the type who provides value for any organization and is constantly looking for ways to increase revenues, decrease costs, or both.  If you are constantly asking yourself, “How can I create more value for my company?” and resolve to produce only A+ work, you’ll be one of the first hired and/or last let go in any sort of economic downturn.

“The Generalist”: The job right now goes to the specialist not the generalist.  This is one of the most common job seeking gaffes that I see today; a job seeker who bundles and packages themselves too generally and casts a large net in hopes of landing “something.” This approach doesn’t garner results—at all—in today’s highly competitive job market.  Fishing for catfish in the Bering Sea would bring better results as the Deadliest Catch in the job search is not catching anything at all.

What’s HOT

LinkedIn: If you’re going to do business—any type of business—in 2010 you need a LinkedIn profile. Not a tool for posting pics of Scruffy the cat, LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site mainly used for professional networking. It has more than 50 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries worldwide.  You can build a network of solid professional contacts, conduct company research, and investigate key decision makers. You can also describe and summarize your brand, areas of expertise and work history, and search jobs.

Twitter: Twitter is a free social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers. Twitter can be used to help a job seeker build a brand and also to “follow” certain experts, companies, recruiters, and recruitment firms. You can also score some Twitter-only deals like half-price Frappuccinos (follow Starbucks) to combat the 2:30 lunch coma.

Blogs: Blogs are an excellent way to stay connected to your industry and occupation while you are looking for employment by subscribing to RSS feeds from certain blogging experts. Avoid going the route of the Smith-Corona typewriter and becoming obsolete by finding out who the real players are within your niche, sector, and industry and stay connected with the latest trends, technology, and information.

Events, MeetUp.com, Networking: Remember humans? You know, those fleshy creatures with arms and legs and eyeballs? In addition to social networking sites, if you’re not getting out there and building your brand through plain old fashioned face-to-face contact, you’re greatly reducing your chances of finding an ideal position. More people are hired via networking than any other job search technique, so build that brand and make it a point to regularly attend functions, events, and meetings per your career objectives.

A Free Agent who produces only A+ work: The average tenure for today’s worker in any given position is 2-4 years or about the same shelf life as GMO veggies.  The Free Agent Mentality says that you will come in and do the best job possible producing only A+ work, leaving ego and any negativity at the door, because the minute you’re hired your days may be numbered.  That’s just the state of business today. Do the best job at all times now so you can leverage your successes, achievements and accomplishments in future interviews, when bolstering your professional portfolio, and for using your reputation capital in asking for referrals, references, and recommendations.

So there you have it.  My best advice for what works and what doesn’t right now, real-time, in 2010.

But hey, I’m sentimental too.  I enjoy 70’s and 80’s reruns and even wear my Walter Payton throwback football jersey on occasion.  So when you’re done sending out a few tweets, checking MeetUp.com, and customizing your resume, go ahead, put on the shiny, clinging shirt and stretchy Lycra pants and pop in Saturday Night Fever…on Beta.  You can also snuggle up with your favorite pet rock and watch an episode of The Partridge Family when the movie’s over.  Check your TV Guide for local listings.  Just don’t forget about the Jiffy Pop on the stove!


Do have any retro or throwback comments concerning the job search? Where’s the last place you actually saw a payphone?  Anything to add to the What’s Hot/What’s Not list? How about your favorite 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s reruns?  Maybe a classic piece of apparel that you just don’t have the heart to part with?

Your comments are welcome—we want to hear from you!