It's a very interesting question. Down in the U.S. and even in most parts of the world, the economy has taken a beating over the past several years. While not immune, according to the Invest in Canada Factsheet, this has actually effectively positioned Canada as having one of the strongest economies in the world.

In times of reduced sales, many businesses tend to downsize. The reality is, this is the time to build strategic partnerships, develop relationships with clients and come together to innovate and find new opportunities. I've seen the cycle has come and go before. The most successful businesses in America today were started in similar economic winters be people who saw the big picture and knew what comes after winter.

The Job Market

Some folks have shared with me that they are not seeing as many job opportunities. I see lots every day. Job fairs are starting to show up which is always a good sign. Economic spring is on the horizon and it's up to you to be in the right place at the right time in order to prosper.

The IT industry is booming but only if you've kept your skills up to date. I recently learned that there is a serious shortage of cloud-savvy IT professionals and skilled people who can develop apps for smartphones. With smartphones outselling computers, tablets and laptops combined, it’s no wonder. Riding on your existing skills and you'll quickly learn that this practice is not sustainable. Unfortunately these people usually see it as there being no jobs instead. It's always easier to blame others for your failures than to take responsibility for yourself. As with many industries today, ongoing learning is not only a must but a way of life.

That being said, there are definitely less jobs being advertised. While just a few years ago 20% of all available jobs were advertised, today only 10% or less are. That means 90% of all jobs are being filled through networking. Who you know is everything because people aren't willing to incur the expense and risk of hiring people they don't know if they can avoid it. It's been my personal experience that meeting people face-to-face makes a HUGE difference. 90% of job seekers are competing for the 10% of jobs that are advertised. Is it any wonder that this group of people are feeling like they can't get a job?

In many cases, these people spend relatively little time each day working on this and rarely go out to talk with people. In fact, many submit one or two job application and wait to see if they get a response. Think about this for a moment. If a business sent out one flyer and waited to see if they got a response from the customer, they wouldn't last very long. Stores try to get you to come in, even if they have to sell something at a loss because they know that once they are right in front of you, you are much more likely to give them more business. When you submit a resume on-line or by mail, you're just submitting emails that are easily dismissed or paper that ends up in piles. Whether you are working or not, you need to be networking and if you don’t know how, it’s high time to learn.

Networking -- You Are the Product/Service

Does your job search or business marketing strategy get people to notice you?

Network and get noticedIt never ceases to amaze me at how many people don't tell their trusted friends and colleagues that they are looking for work or even what they do for a living. I just love it when I meet someone and, when asked what they do, they start by saying that they are looking for work. Now there is someone who understands their current role! Have you ever been given a referral and didn't follow up? I did back in the early 2000 and was out of work for 4 years. Then one day someone told me to follow up on any tip I had ever been given. I followed their advice and kicked myself when the referral I had been given 3 years earlier got me a job. What a lesson learned. Unfortunately I see many job seekers make the same mistake.

I have meet hundreds of people while networking and am always surprised by how few people ever follow up. I've come out and asked them directly "What do you do when someone hands you their business card?"  Most answer with pride that they organize them into a binder. It never ceases to amaze me how many people don't follow up. If you've taken the time and effort to develop your network, have you noticed that others start to be attracted by your success to want to be part of your network? If not, give it a try sometime. In his book "Book Yourself Solid", Michael Port offers some great strategies on building a quality network.

Working Smarter, not Harder

I believe that you can work harder or you can work smarter. I have yet to come across anyone who has followed my job finding strategy and didn't find work within 3-4 weeks. Many "unemployed" people mistakenly think they are out of work when in fact they have simply changed role from doing their chosen profession to marketing and sales with the product being the value they bring to a potential employer. As such, they need to treat their new job with the same respect and put in the same amount of time if they want it to yield similar financial results. What's the outcome? A job and the financial security that goes with it. If you actually spent the time going after what you really want to be doing, you could even end up with a career that you really like. After all, you're investing the time and energy to do it anyway, so why not?

What You Believe is What You Will Find

Don't ever let anyone tell you that something can't be done. This is often a sign that they simply haven't figure out how to do it for themselves. History is filled with people who overcame and set a new level for what others would believe.

It all starts with what you believe. If something isn't working for you, it's not that it can't be done. You just haven't learned how to make it work yet. This applies to business, relationships, job finding, leadership, parenting, health and pretty much every other area of life.

Has the economy affected me? Sure, but only when I let it