How to Find a Job in a Recession

Looking for a job in a regular market can be stressful. When the market is flooded with candidates after widespread layoffs ( upwards of 70,000+ tech workers alone! ), job searching can seem very overwhelming. There is some good news / bad news here. There are things well within your control both from a candidate and business perspective, and with persistence and grit, you will overcome. Here are some tips from someone who has seen both sides of the market –

Through the lens of a candidate – 

As a former Recruiter in Creative and Tech – in a normal economy and market, the average candidate has about 8 seconds to get a Recruiter’s attention. This is a well known statistic around Recruiting. As a candidate, how are you supposed to stand out in 8 seconds?! We can reverse engineer this from a Recruiter’s perspective –

What does the Recruiter look for in a resume ( not necessarily in order )?

  1. Experience.
  2. Relevance.
  3. Metrics.

How do they look for these things in a resume? Here’s how –

The first gate in the hiring process ( and some would argue the most important ) – The ATS.

Most Recruiters use an ATS ( Applicant Tracking System ). This means your resume needs to have relevant keywords to highlight role responsibilities and qualities you possess in your resume. Without relevant keywords and metrics, your resume will not be seen by Recruiters or the ATS, and will fall off along with the other 75% of resumes in an ATS that do not have keywords or metrics. Think of an ATS as Google’s search engine. Your keywords, metrics and industry terms in your resume are like your SEO. The better your SEO, the higher you rank in Google ( the ATS ). This also applies to the most powerful professional networking tool – your LinkedIn! When Recruiters search for a candidate ( you ), the more keywords you have, the better chance you have of your profile being seen by them.

Without good keywords and skill structure supporting your resume, you will not be searchable and your resume will be useless in a system, regardless of the company or connections you have.

If you would like to learn more about ATS software, this article provides great context into how they work.

How do you find the keywords needed for your targeted role or job?

The easiest way I have seen is through LinkedIn job postings and candidate searching. When I consult with candidates, I tell them to research – find their ideal job posting or person in that position at their target company. Look at their profile, at their previous roles, at their skills, look at their resume. What are they using? Do not plagiarize, but use their information as inspiration to curate your own great keywords and industry terms. Search for your dream role and see what the Hiring Manager and Recruiters use in their job descriptions. If you have experience with their skills they are looking for in the role, great! Add them to your profile!

If you don’t have these skills yet, no worries! Start some projects now that utilize these skills. If you cannot find anyone interested in the work you offer, ask around! Do it for free. I know some will resist doing free work, but this is how you grow. Practice something until you become good at it, then charge money for it. You cannot skip this process, I consult with lots of people around the frustration of not getting paid for the work, but this is how I did it, how my mentors did it, and how many others have done it as well.

Building your Skill set – 

If you have LinkedIn Premium, when you search for roles, additional features pop up including skills Hiring Managers are looking for. If you do not have LinkedIn Premium, it may be worthwhile to invest into it for a month or two while you job search, it will definitely help give additional insights and visibility to Recruiters, and will give you an advantage among those that do not have it. Your competition is using it, I highly recommend you get on their level. Here is a screenshot of skills in a Sr. PM role through LinkedIn Premium for example –

Powerful metrics. Through this view, we can see exactly what the Hiring Manager is looking for and can emulate our profile to match the job.

Over the years using this technique, I created my skills based on my experience in different roles. Over time, your peers and network can endorse you for your skills, helping you stand out even more. Here is a screenshot of the skills section in my LinkedIn profile for reference – these are vitally important to build out and be seen –

Build a story with your experience – 

Most ( good ) Recruiters are really good at scanning a resume for keywords, metrics and results, and building a story around a candidate for their Hiring Managers. Helping them build a story about why they should hire you is very important. Making their job easier makes it easier for them to talk about you as the no-brainer hire. How do you do this?

Build short, applicable case study-like metrics in each of your job descriptions. A S.T.A.R. story ( a great link to how to create a S.T.A.R. story here ) is an awesome way to represent these, or you can distill it even further into a case study metric.

A case study metric establishes a short, powerful message that you have the capability and power as a candidate to function well within the company. Essentially it goes like this –

What was a problem?

What did you do to fix it?

What happened after you fixed it?

If you frame all your work experience around this model, you will get powerful metrics that make the connection of a no-brainer hire.

Here is an example from my own resume –

  • Joined in January for a complete brand overhaul initially kicked off in October & behind schedule. Full rebranding included logo refresh, new website (including site migration), collateral, & all Sales & Marketing pieces converted.
  • Worked with c-suite to develop new processes & communication lines for Marketing & Product departments effectively reducing department waste & time to complete a project by 93% helping to save the company five figures in the first quarter.
  • Managed a local & remote team of 15+ including controlling resource & financial burns of six figure Marketing & Contractor department budget including weekly & monthly reporting to C-Suite.
  • Built out DAM system including organization, updating, developing new resources, training & adoption to teams.
  • Built out & managed six-figure Marketing budget including vendor & contractor resource burn.
  • Created scratch & reformed existing processes within two teams (one offshore) of 15 direct reports.
  • Led the development & processing of new & existing Marketing materials for 1,300+ pieces of print & digital collateral.


What was a problem?

  • Joined in January for a complete brand overhaul initially kicked off in October & behind schedule. Full rebranding included logo refresh, new website (including site migration), collateral, & all Sales & Marketing pieces converted.

What did you do to fix it?

  • Worked with c-suite to develop new processes & communication lines for Marketing & Product departments. 

What happened after you fixed it?

  • Effectively reducing department waste & time to complete a project by 93% helping to save the company five figures in the first quarter.

Do you see what I did there? Outside of developing powerful metrics that I drove for the company, I bolded the most important bullet to consume. A Recruiter can look at upwards of 100 resumes even with ATS and filtering, depending on the job. They are also working on other roles for the company and sometimes other companies. If you help subtly direct their eye to the most powerful metrics in your resume, you are making their job easier to present you. If I am job searching, I want to make their job as easy as possible to recommend me. This definitely helps.

Mostly ( from my perspective ), every Recruiter is trying to do the same thing. Get their candidate in the role that is being offered. Seems simple, but the unknown factor that plagues the Recruiter is —- people. The Recruiter is framing every candidate through their Hiring Manager, through the company, through the team, through Managers, HR, through quite a few other hoops and hurdles ( salary, benefits, bonuses, sign-ons, etc. ). By boosting your profile and resume with these small steps, you will jump to the front of the line.

Questions? Comments? Let me know! Here for support. Go crush 🤘



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