As Market Opens Up, Job Counselors Urge Tenacity, Optimism Keep Resume, Skills Honed; Control Interviews

Article excerpt

Just when the job market seems to be loosening a bit, job seekers have never acted more discouraged, say Barbara and Bob Siegel, authors of a new book on finding a job.

People "are realizing how much more difficult it is to get a job," said Bob Siegel. "In the last few years they've run into less success, and they have to be more determined and more persistent."

About halfway through last year, employment analysts started seeing an increase in the monthly job count for the metropolitan area, said Russell Signorino, an analyst here.

By December, the area had 1.1 percent more jobs than the previous December, and January will probably show some increases as well.

More jobs may be coming open, but the market has changed forever, say the Siegels, of Creve Coeur.

Their book, "5 Secrets to Finding a Job," is published by Impact Publications of Virginia.

Bob Siegel, 49, heads the St. Louis office of Bernard Haldane Associates, a career counseling and outplacement firms. Barbara Siegel, 50, has her own consulting business, the Career Consulting Group.

Both have had experience in changing jobs. He began as an elementary school counselor, joined a company that gave training seminars for large corporations, then moved into employment counseling. She worked as a marketing rep for Haldane and other career-development companies, before writing the book and quitting her job in the Washington University alumni office.

"We see more openings," Bob Siegel said. "But I don't think it will ever get to the point that you can just answer ads in the paper."

They attribute part of the change to the type of employers creating new jobs. While large companies have been "downsizing," smaller companies are hiring.

Such employers are looking for enthusiasm as well as skills, says Barbara Siegel. If they find someone with the right attitude, employers may be flexible on credentials.

And employers are taking longer to fill positions, Bob Siegel says. They're requiring more interviews and more meetings before deciding.

Nearly eight in 10 job openings are not advertised, the Siegels say. Successful job hunters will sidestep the traditional methods of only going after posted jobs, or blanketing the area with resumes.

A key approach is the informational interview. The Siegels encourage job seekers to ask decision makers in a field or company to meet with them briefly to talk about duties, skills and hiring outlook. Getting information is the first purpose of the interview, and job seekers usually feel freer to ask questions about salary, for instance, or the impression they make. …

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