3 Ways to Job Search During a Downturn

There is no doubt that it’s a very difficult time to search for jobs, interview, or start fresh in a new role. With so much uncertainty around the economy and the job market, it’s almost impossible to know when people will be able to fully get back to work, and how the future of work will look when that happens.

What we do know is this: many people are out of work and vying for the jobs that are available. If you’re back in the market and feeling overwhelmed, try to pace yourself and set up a strategy for your job search, starting by identifying what you want. Once you’ve laid out your must-haves, you can start connecting the dots between your career goals and your next career move. 

Where to Look for Jobs

Now that you’ve done the groundwork in figuring out what you want in your next role, and revamped your resume and cover letter to better leverage your skills, you can begin the job search in earnest.

Online Postings

Big job boards can often seem like a shot in the dark when looking for work. You could spend countless hours applying for jobs, only to receive automated email responses, or worse, no response at all. The truth is that job boards are too easy, for both employers to post available jobs and for job seekers to apply, so the numbers just aren’t in your favor. Hiring managers receive, on average, about 250 resumes for each job posting, so even if your resume is optimized well, you might still miss out on a great role due to factors out of your control. Sometimes job boards are more useful for research purposes — to gauge what’s out there, who’s hiring, and what you can expect in terms of salary. But don’t spend too much time there — we recommend using about 10% of your time applying online.

Local and industry-specific job boards can often be more fruitful than the big sites. In the Portland area, Mac’s List, Partners in Diversity, and PDX Pipeline are great local job boards that also offer free newsletters with featured job listings. If you’re a soon-to-be college graduate, don’t forget to tap into your college’s career resources. Many colleges have exclusive job boards for alums, and you can sign up for their email list to be alerted as new jobs become available.

Many companies do post their jobs online, but they may be somewhere other than an aggregated jobs board. Focus your time online researching companies that you’re interested in, then follow them on social media and check out their Careers pages on their websites — you may find jobs that aren’t listed anywhere else. This is especially true right now while companies are cutting advertising costs.


While networking is more of a long-game strategy, it’s an important element in humanizing your job search. Not only will you meet new and interesting people, you’ll plant the seeds of influence so that when an amazing new role opens up, you’ll be high on the list of recommendations.

An easy way to start is by reconnecting with people in your network to check in. Let them know you’re on the job hunt and would appreciate any introductions they could make or any referrals for roles you would be qualified for. Joining networking groups and attending local webinars is also a great networking strategy. You’ll have new opportunities to follow up with people about interesting presentations and connect on shared interests and ideas.

Informational interviews are also a very effective way to get noticed by a hiring manager, and can increase your chances of getting in the door when something opens up. Think about it like this:

Informational interview: 1 in 12 leads to a job
Applying online: 1 in endless ether of applications may lead to a job

Be proactive! Take the list of companies that you’re interested in and reach out to someone on each team. It could be a manager, a department head, or someone on the executive team, depending on the size of the company. Tell them what you do, why you’re interested in the company, and what you hope to take away from a meeting. Denote a specific amount of time for the meeting — and if someone referred you, make sure to include their name in your request. That 10-15 minutes could be the key to you snagging your dream role.


There are a lot of misconceptions out there about recruiters, the most common being that they work to find the best roles for job seekers. This is only partially true. Recruiters work closely with client companies to screen and identify candidates based on a specific set of criteria outlined for a role. If a client is looking for an HR Business Partner with 7 years of experience and knowledge of compensation and performance management, a recruiter is unlikely to consider a candidate who has very minimal experience, regardless of a candidate’s confidence in their abilities.

On the plus side, building relationships with recruiters gives you exclusive access to roles that aren’t typically advertised. Recruiters also have the inside track on details that aren’t in the job description, including company culture, team structure, benefits, etc. Based on the information you’ve provided during your phone screen/interview, they’ll be able to better connect your goals to a company (and role!) for the best possible match.

We recommend relying on local recruiting agencies with longevity and stellar reputations. Recruiters at these agencies have built strong relationships with local businesses and typically have large networks. Before you apply, make sure the recruiting agencies you reach out to work within your specialty area — they will likely be best suited to offer tailored job search advice and get you connected with a role that meets your needs.

Above all else, we encourage you to be persistent, curious, and proactive as you seek out new job opportunities. Focusing where and how you spend your time looking for jobs will almost always be less stressful and deliver the results you’re looking for.

We know it’s a difficult time for many job seekers out there and we hope to be a source of insight and support as you look to get back to work. Our blog has helpful content on everything from initiating your job search to networking and negotiating salary. We host free webinars featuring fresh takes on the job search, personalized resume feedback and more. Don’t forget to check out our job board to see if there are opportunities that align with your experience and career goals. You can also reach out to our Career Advisor with your questions and concerns at [email protected].


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