Challenger's 24th Annual Call-In

December 22, 2009 While job-market conditions appear bleak, there are indications that hiring is poised to accelerate, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., the global outplacement and executive coaching firm that provides job-search counseling to terminate workers. However, even as hiring increases, the job search will be filled with obstacles and frustration. To help the nation's job seekers overcome these obstacles and improve their chances of success, Challenger, Gray & Christmas will suspend normal business operations on December 28 and 29 to provide free job search advice to callers from anywhere in the U.S.

The firm's 24th annual two-day national job search call-in will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST both days. The telephone number is 312-422-5010.

Job seekers can get more information about the call-in at National Free Job Search Advice Call-In could not have come at a better time. Nearly 8.5 million Americans have joined the ranks of the unemployed since the beginning of the recession, sending the jobless rate to 10.2 percent, its highest level since 1983. Making matters worse is the amount of time it is taking the unemployed to find new positions. As of October, 5.6 million people, or nearly 36 percent of the nation's 15.1 million unemployed, have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is the highest level in records going back to 1948. "It is easy to look at the jobs data and simply give up hope. However, there are some signs that the situation is beginning to improve, including a dramatic slowdown in new job-cut announcements as well as evidence that employers are starting to hire again. The rebound will not occur overnight,by any means, but we are heading in the right direction," said John A.Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

"That being said, the job market remains extremely competitive. Even those with exceptional skills and experience will endure a lot of rejection before finding a position. It is our hope that people use this once-ayear opportunity to take advantage of our counselors' expertise in navigating both the external and internal roadblocks that can impede a job search," said Challenger, whose firm's services are typically available only to those who receive outplacement benefits from their former employer.Challenger remains optimistic that the job market will improve steadily in 2010. Planned job-cut announcements tracked monthly by Challenger's firm have declined dramatically in the second half of 2009.

From January through the end of June, employers announced an average of 149,446 job cuts per month. Since July 1, the monthly average has dropped by more than 50 percent to 73,978.

Meanwhile, the net payroll losses reported monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics have also been shrinking. In the first half of 2009, payrolls shrank by an average of 560,000 each month. For the four-month period ending in October, average net loses dropped to less than 217,000 per month. "Payrolls are still shrinking, but it would be a mistake to assume that means that no one is hiring. On the contrary, employers across the country are hiring millions of new employees every month," said Challenger.

Indeed, the latest available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey show that employers hired more than four million new workers in September. There were another 2.5 million job openings, as well. "Part of a successful job search is being in the right place at the right time. What we try to impart on callers seeking job-search advice are some strategies to increase the odds of them being in the best position when job openings do materialize," said Challenger.

"It is critical to aggressively build and take advantage of one's professional and social networks. Let everyone know that you are seeking a position. When more people know, the greater your chances of hearing about new opportunities, meeting the right people and getting a foot in the door," he added."One of the most common complaints we hear from callers yearafter- year is that they have sent out hundreds of resumes and responded to dozens of online and newspaper help-wanted ads and never hear back from anyone. They assume there is something wrong with their resume. But in reality, their only mistake is relying too heavily on the resume and taking a passive approach to the job search.

"Unfortunately, simply posting resumes on Internet job sites and answering classified ads rarely work, even in a good job market. These activities are even less effective in a weak job market. Under current conditions, it is critical that job seekers expand their job search through networking. Job seekers may also want to consider expanding their parameters to include a wide variety of industries, companies and cities. Do not rule out companies that are struggling, as they are looking for talented individuals who can help turn around the business," Challenger advised. The Challenger phone lines will be open to anyone seeking job-search advice, even those who are already employed and considering a change of employer. Once again, the free job-search advice call-in will take place Monday, December 28, and Tuesday, December 29, from 9am to 5pm CST. The number is 312-422-5010. Go to for more information.

Challenger's 24th Annual Call-In
Free job advice nationwide
Dec. 28-29
9a.m. to 5p.m.

Additional Tips:

- Network, network, network: the importance of expanding your network, both personal and professional, cannot be overstated. The majority of jobs are found through the people we know or meet during our job search.

- Don't assume that no one is hiring: it is easy to look at the monthly employment numbers and conclude that there are no jobs available, but nothing could be further from the truth. From July through October, employers hired an average of about 4 million workers per month.

- Use social networking sites, but use them carefully: LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter have become valuable tools in the job search, particularly when it comes to expanding your network. However, many people make the mistake of not dividing their personal activities from their professional/job search ones. Companies use these sites to find potential hires, but they also use them to screen out candidates.

- In interviews, talk less, but say more: It is easy to get nervous in the interview and begin talking too much. The more you say, the more likely it is that you will say something that will take you out of the running. Answers to questions have to be succinct but provide details about your experience, preferably in the form of quantifiable statements.

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