How Can One Find Work During An Economic Crisis?

This global economic crisis, which is said to be one of the biggest ones in the 21st century, is an important factor in the increase in unemployment in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for November 2008, in that month there was a 6.7% unemployment rate with 10.3 million people out of work.

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Esra Öziskender with her business partner Ira E. Shapiro. (Photo by Ayhan Kay)

There has been an increase in unemployment in the past 12 months, 2.8 million people added to the jobless rolls. From December 2006 up till today the number of people in the finance sector who have lost their jobs has reached 200,000. Just in October of this year, 24,000 people have lost their jobs in the finance sector.

As universities graduate more and more people, many well-educated brains from overseas also move to the United States for work. In these difficult times, those who are looking for work must follow an appropriate strategy from beginning to end in order to get firms interested in them.

Esra Öziskender, an expert in the field of human resources, states that the first condition in looking for work in the United States is to know exactly what you want and to make a wise career plan. If you do not want to waste any time, then another must is to know what state and what city you want to work in.

When we talk about the American market, first we need to summarize what kind of environment we are talking about. Öziskender exlplains, “With a land mass of 9.83 million square kilometers, a population of more than 300 million, 50 states and several territories, the United States is a very large work space.” She says that besides the national labor laws and regulations, each state also has its own labor laws, regulations, traditions and customs.

Öziskender also underlines the fact that those who are looking for work in the United States are very conscious, from the highest level manager, the newly graduated personnel and the construction worker on the lowest rung of the ladder; they all know what they want, they look for work with a clear plan for the future, and they do not leave things up to chance. For this reason the first rule to looking for work is to work with a well-designed career plan.

POWER OF THE RESUME
Öziskender says that the second important step for those who are making a career plan is to prepare a good resume, and adds: “Your resume is your marketing tool. The resume will usually not get you the job. The purpose of the resume is to generate enough interest in order for you to get called in for an interview. Whether or not you get the job depends on how successful you are in your interview.”
The next step after your career plan and a good resume is to send out your resume to as many firms as possible or to all of your target firms. Job search sites and headhunter sites on the Internet are also resources that must be used.

Öziskender embarked on her human resources career in Boston by aiding people around her with their resumes, and now she has over 15 years of experience in her field. At her last position, Öziskender was the director of human resources at AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals in Turkey before coming to the United States, and with her participation on human resource task forces with experiences in Europe, Asia and the United States, she has a wide range of experience in every field of human resources. Öziskender has organized workshops on the establishment and protection of company cultures and values during mergers and acquisitions in Europe and the United States, and establishing her own company HRLink Consulting, Inc. in March of 2005, she signed a partnership with Ira E. Shapiro, an expert in human resources, management, organization, strategic planning and leadership with many years of experience in New York. Öziskender and Shapiro now serve their customers with a wide range of services, including the establishment of a company from the ground up, legal and financial consulting, and finding and hiring temporary or permanent staff.

Shapiro, as the president of Hire USA, Inc., has been working in human resources management since 2006. Shapiro underlines the fact that mistakes made in hiring practices cause long-term damage for a company. He emphasizes the fact that his company can be of service to companies wanting to invest in the United States at every stage.
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Esra Oziskender. (Photo by Ayhan Kay)

Öziskender claims that the resumes that they aid in writing have a 98 percent rate of leading to the applicant being hired and adds: “Writing a good resume does not guarantee a job for the person searching for one. It aids in getting called in for an interview. What makes the decision of whether or not that person gets hired is the impression that they leave on the employer and whether or not their past experiences meet the needs of the position to which they are applying.”

PROBLEMS FOR TURKISH PEOPLE LOOKING FOR WORK
Öziskender, based on her past experiences, touches on the problems that Turkish people looking for work frequently run into. She lists them under the following headings:
- Legal Status: If the person looking for work does not have a Green Card or citizenship, then ‘legal status’ heads the list of problems. The H1B work visa that gave employers the opportunity to hire foreigners became much harder to get after 9/11. Some firms do not want to sponsor workers due to the extra expense that it brings them. In times where the economy is good and the need for workers is high the chance given to foreigners increases accordingly, but in times when the economy is bad and Americans are also out there looking for work then it gets harder for a foreigner to get hired.
- The Transfer Of Experience: For those candidates with work experience especially in Turkey and Europe, when they get to the United States they have to start from zero in about 90% of the cases. This is extremely demoralizing for them. The candidates must get used to the fact that this is just a temporary phase; they need to believe that after a few years of gaining experience in the American market, they then can move onto positions which are more suitable to them.
- Job Search Techniques: Looking for work in the United States, in the same way as they did back in Turkey, without knowing the appropriate techniques, can lead to disappointment. Generally the candidates bring together all the experiences and knowledge that they have, but when you look at the resume, it does not have a completeness to it. There are two factors for this; the first one is that in Turkey workers who have experience in every phase of management are much more valuable than those with specific specializations, and the second one is that a resume in Turkey is written in order to bring together all past education and experiences rather than written with a specific aim. The lack of a career plan made while they are still in school causes the candidates to lose track later on.
- The Language Problem: Even though these candidates graduate from language schools, because they do not use English in their everyday lives there is a certain lack of flow in their English. “For this reason, if they have the opportunity, the candidates should first take care of their language problems, and they should start looking for work when they believe that their English is fluent enough,” says Öziskender, but if they can find the opportunity to work and also solve their language problems, especially by finding a low level job, then that will also produce good results. “Generally what we see is that if a candidate finds a job with the state of their English at that time, then they do not work on advancing their language skills after that,” she says.
- Lack Of Networking: Networking in Turkey is usually done among friends and acquaintances. In the United States it is not unusual to network with people that you do not know as long as you create a common denominator.

WRITING A RESUME

- If there is no interest in the resume that you have sent within one to three months then you should suspect that there is something wrong with the resume.
- A good resume shortens the job search period by 50%.
- Just as there is no room on a resume for too much information, a too short resume is also not appropriate.
- A resume that is 1-3 pages is considered a normal length.
- As you write your resume, see if any sentence you write raises any questions.
- A recruiter usually spends 3 seconds per resume and they look for key words that are looked for in the job requirements. If they do not see these words then they usually give up on that resume. Clearly write out your experiences with key words.
- In order not to discriminate there is no room in a resume for information about your personal life. Mistakes in grammar are not well received so make sure to check your resume for any mistakes.

WHEN YOU ARE CALLED IN FOR AN INTERVIEW

- Arrive for the interview at least 5-15 minutes early.
- Do not use too much make up or perfume. Make sure you dress professionally.
- Speak concisely and only answer the questions that are asked in a correct manner.
- Show yourself to be a candidate who is sure of yourself, who knows what you want, who is aware of your successes and who has a future career plan.
- Before you go for the interview, make sure you know everything about the company and the position you are applying for.
- At the end of the interview, the interviewer will be sure to say, “Is there anything that you would like to ask?”. Be prepared for this and have at least one question to ask them. “What do you expect from an ideal candidate? What are your expectations from this position and from the person you hire for this position? Or what is the growth expectations for this company?” are all classic questions that you may ask.
- Do not bring up the question of salary as long as the employer does not bring it up. The employer generally brings the issue of salary to the table.
- After the interview, make sure to send the people you have met with a thank you e-mail or card. In your thank you message make sure to underline the fact that you are still interested in the company and in the position that you have interviewed for.

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