Three WaysTo Find A Job … From 1938

  • Article by: KEVIN DONLIN , Star Tribune Sales and Marketing
  • Updated: May 25, 2009 - 5:58 PM

Think the job market is tough now?

It’s been tougher. A lot tougher.

Recall the 1930s, when unemployment ran as high as 25%. That’s tough.

Now, do you think the best job-search methods from the Great Depression might help you find work now, in the Great Recession, when fewer than 10% of people are jobless?

I do.

To get you started, here are three Depression-era job search tips, taken from two books published in 1938.

The first book is "We Are Forty And We Did Get Jobs," by C.B. Thompson and M.L. Wise, two forty-year-old women who spent 10 weeks perfecting a job-search system by looking for -- and getting -- jobs in cities across America.

Of their system, they write: "It proved, in short, the touchstone that had magic even during the depths of the 1938 recession."

Here are two of their tips, with modern applications for you …

1) "Look your best. Nothing runs you down like that run-down look" (page 28).

Before you think, "Everybody knows that," think, "How often do I leave the house looking like a hobo?" In my case, the answer is, "Too often!"

Only last week, I was in a coffee shop near an industrial park, typing on my laptop, unshaved and unkempt, feeling anonymous. Not so.

In walked a business acquaintance, whom we'll call Jack. Embarrassed by my appearance, I pretended not to notice him. A day later, Jack sent me an email, "Didn't I see you at Caribou Coffee yesterday?" Awkward.

Now, what if I were unemployed and Jack had been a manager I had recently interviewed with? My unprofessional appearance and actions would have torpedoed my chances.

So, know this: Because business can be transacted anywhere these days, from coffee shops to parks, never leave home looking less than your best. The person you see in Starbuck’s today may be your boss tomorrow. Dress and look your best.

2) "Put the employer's needs before your own. Visualize the needs of the person for whom you want to work. Then fill them" (page 42).

The authors call this, "the most important step of all in the job-getting formula." It was true then and still is today.

When you keep the employer's needs uppermost in your mind, it improves every word you write in your resumes and cover letters, and every word you say in job and networking interviews. You will see the world differently -- and for the better.

Because, when you focus on employer's needs, you see problems that need solving in almost any business, in any city. These problems are jobs in disguise. Prove you can solve them, and jobs will be given to or created for you.

Meanwhile, ordinary job seekers, who think first of themselves and their needs, are looking for advertised openings that appeal to them -- and not finding many.

The third tip comes from "Pick Your Job And Land It!" by S.W. and M.G. Edlund. Of their methods, they write: "For over three years, the authors have tested the program laid down in this book in the now famous Man Marketing Clinic" in New York City.

3) “Make a written sales presentation of what you have to offer” (page 48).

Your resume and cover letters can get you interviews. A sales presentation, delivered in the interview, can get you job offers.

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