by Tom Melander

The next person who asks me for “hope” is gonna lose a tooth. I know it’s my job to reassure job seekers that the economy has not permanently left them behind. But, it is also my job to help people understand the realities of the job market and prepare accordingly. So, in case you haven’t been paying attention, here’s the big picture:



So if you are unemployed or underemployed, don’t pin your hopes on the rising economy to lift you out of your situation. The jobs are out there. Some people are finding them; others aren’t. . If you fall into the latter category, you don’t need hope. You need to get a grip. Here’s how. .


FIRST: Re-assess your tactics


Consider this from Colin Powell, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”


While your ultimate goal is finding suitable employment, there are lessons to be learned from failure. Be honest about what’s not working and be prepared to change your tactics.


  • Do the results of your online job search justify the amount of time it takes to find a real opportunity? Or do feel like you are pouring sand down a hole every time you fill out an online application? Spend your time identifying potential employers: learn about what they do and where you might fit in.
  • Instead of practicing your elevator pitch, practice pitching-in. Volunteering your time and talents is the best way to build your network. People will see you as a capable and productive resource, rather than another unemployed worker. Plus, the appreciation you receive will do wonders for your self-worth.


NEXT: Re-assess yourself


Consider this from football coach Lou Holtz, “Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”


Take a good look at yourself and try to see yourself through an employer's eyes. Ask yourself:


  • Are you substantially more employable today than you were six months ago?Have you used this time to learn something new? What are you willing to do today to make yourself more employable next June?
  • How was your job or career going before you lost your job? Dig out your old performance reviews. What do they tell you about your own abilities, motivations, and attitude? Even a bad review can help you produce good results if you learn from your failures.


LAST: Re-assess the job market


Even in a bad job market, there are opportunities. Saying "yes" to small opportunities and temporary work can position you for a better job as the job market recovers. This is especially true the longer you are in transition.


Ready or not, the New Year has begun. I can’t predict when the job market will improve. There is no guarantee that unemployment insurance funds won’t run out before the jobs come back. I believe that remaining positive, focusing on needs of others, and offering help are not only keys to success, but the way of hope (and nobody needs to lose a tooth).