The Color of Money: Unemployed Must Take Charge

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, August 2, 2009

Over the past 12 months, I've worked closely with several people who are trying to find work. Another week of unemployment is another week of worrying about how to pay for basic living expenses. With every good job lead or interview, there's hope. With every unreturned call or rejection, there's heartache.

So the jobless numbers are very sobering and very real to me:

-- 584,000 people filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the week ended July 25. That was an increase of 25,000 from the previous week.

-- 6.2 million people collecting unemployment checks.

-- 6.5 million jobs slashed from the labor market.

This is the only recession since the Great Depression that has wiped out all job growth from the previous business cycle, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. Further, with less than one job opening for every five job seekers, unemployed workers are getting stuck in unemployment for long periods. Twenty-nine percent have been jobless for more than half a year.

In an increasingly crowded field of job applicants, how can you make your résumé rise to the top of the pile?

For one, get some help. Here's a good recommendation: For $16.99 you can find some great tips and strategies for landing a job in "Job Hunting for Dummies" by Max Messmer, chairman and chief executive of Robert Half International, a large specialized staffing firm.

"Job Hunting for Dummies," this month's Color of Money Book Club selection, packs a lot of information in 358 pages. Like many books in Wiley's "Dummies" series, it's easy to read in nugget-size chunks.

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