Tips to get ahead as an online job seeker, in a recession!

Jason O'Connor is a Recruitment and Retention specialist, at Orcon Internet Limited, based in Auckland NZ

May 2009

If you are searching for a job online at the moment, you will no doubt have found that it is pretty tough out there. Due to current economic conditions most businesses are either freezing their staff growth, or worse, are planning for redundancies as a measure to lower costs and save on salaries. Things don't look like they will improve for some time.

It is not hard to see the effects of the recession on the job market. Across the three main online job boards, since November 2008 there has been a marked decrease in the number of advertisements placed online. Those same sites are reporting a 15% increase in unique browsers - within the same time period.

What this means for the online job seeker? Not many jobs and a hell of a lot of competition.

With such a grim outlook, it's only natural to feel a little anxious or stressed about the prospect of finding employment. However from an in-house recruitment perspective, there are some key things you can do to give yourself a competitive advantage while looking for jobs online...

Do your research

Go online and research which sectors and industries are either skills short or still growing. The Department of Labour publish a quarterly Labour Market Report ( online which provides valuable commentary on which sectors and industries are slowing and which areas are growing with respect to employment. Another way to check out which areas are growing is to check out a large,credible job board like and search your location / industry. You can then gauge how many positions are advertised under that category. If that industry has more advertisements posted than another - you can safely assume that area is coping better through the recession. Of course companies like Orcon that are growing and innovating will always be on the lookout for talented people - so check out our site too:

Identify companies that appeal to you

Whether or not companies are actively advertising positions online, you can be sure there are vacancies that are in the pipeline - probably due to attrition or staggered growth. Have a think about the sectors and industries that appeal to you, and the companies and brands within those areas push your buttons. Why do they appeal to you and why would you want to work for that company? A great website to help you understand career options across different industries and sectors is

Build Rapport with those companies

Once you've sussed out which companies push your buttons, devise a plan and suitable approach. Great companies and recruiters are always open to hearing from talented individuals who have a genuine desire to work for the company and add value. Once you've got your name in the door and built rapport with the right contact, your name will be the first that springs to mind when that next vacancy is approved.

Know what buttons to press

Go online and research the companies you are keen to approach. What are their values, and what do they look for in employees? If the company website doesn't have a careers page that talks about values, check out Google - you'll usually be able to find something! Websites like are great social networking tools to gather stories and information on what it's like to work for a particular company.

Your approach should always be in-line with the company values and brand, showing your suitability, credibility and initiative. Now more than ever, you want to be talking about driving measurable results, adding value and showing return on investment, given the general hesitation in business to spend any extra money. Show that you can make an impact to the business and add to their future success.

Go for it!

Whether or not you are making an approach to a company, or applying for an advertised role - make sure your approach is customised for the role, type of job and company you are applying too. From an in-house recruiters point of view, there is nothing more discouraging than receiving a CV that says "I would love to work in the food and beverage industry" when you are applying to work here at Orcon! Make each application work for you - by ensuring your CV and cover letter is addressed to the contacts name, and reflects the company values and requirements. You can find some good tips online about how to make your CV and cover letter awesome - check out Monsters career advice website ( which has some really great and innovative ideas.

Be open to options

If the company you are facing is hesitant to hire permanent employees, be open to contracting. Generally this means the employment costs to the business will be listed as an expense rather than impacting on the company's wages bill. This offers employers more security and you the chance to work for your dream company and show them just how awesome you really are.

There are many other things you can do to cast your net wider, aside from the things mentioned above.

Use sites like LinkedIn to network with hiring managers and HR professionals. Another great place to meet hiring managers is on social networking sites like Facebook. Orcon for instance has a fan page on Facebook that is open to anyone. I advertise a lot of our roles through this, and have had success in reaching some awesome candidates through this website (after all, who makes a better employee than a big fan?). Sometimes it can be all about 'who you know' and 'being in the right place at the right time'. So keep talking to people, joining groups, reading blogs and knocking on doors.

But the main piece of advice I'd like to give is be resilient and keep thinking smartly about how you approach your job search. It is a tough time out there in the job market, but keep at it. The Guardian published great article last week ( that talks about coping with rejection and getting feedback, and I highly recommend reading it. In my experience if you are able to rise above the feelings of rejection and take on board positive feedback, your one step closer to your dream job.

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