Without question, one of the common “sensations” that job hunters report is that with each passing month out of work, they feel less and less connected to the marketplace — and their confidence often starts to erode a bit, as a result.  Luckily, this is a problem that can largely be fixed if you put your mind it.  Sure, there’s no substitute (short of volunteering, perhaps) for actually being in a formal job role and getting the chance to apply your professional skills each day.  But you also don’t have to fall off the edge of the planet, either, and totally cut yourself off from the comings-and-goings of the business world.

In fact, one of the smartest things transitioning professionals can do for themselves (in my opinion) is to set up a consistent reading regimen where you spend at least 15-30 minutes each day studying the latest news and developments related to your local economy, supplemented with some additional targeted readings in your professional field or industry.  We live in the information age, after all, and there are thousands upon thousands of convenient sources one can turn to for this kind of information — many of which don’t have a price tag attached.  Honestly, you just have to look around.

The benefits of engaging in a consistent reading regimen?

•  You’ll be more likely to spot emerging opportunities as you read about new companies that are launching, existing companies that are expanding, companies that have recently attracted new funding, etc.
•  You’ll have a greater chance of coming across useful contacts and referral opportunities as you read about people getting newly hired or promoted, upcoming networking events, and the like
•  You’ll stay extremely current on your field or industry, so that employers can’t use the “out of touch” argument against you; and you might even spot some trends, developments, and breaking news that most employers in your field aren’t even aware of yet!
•  You’ll be arming yourself with lots of juicy material for driving small talk in both networking and interviewing situations, especially if you’re introverted and often struggle to carry on a conversation
•  Last but not least, you’ll inevitably come across useful articles and ideas that you can share with the other people in your network, reinforcing the perception that you’re a reciprocally-minded job hunter who isn’t always just running around with their hand out!

These are just a few of the benefits you’ll gain from beefing up and systematizing your reading habits.  Given the opportunity, I’m sure we could brainstorm quite a few more.

As for the best sources of information/news to consult on a regular basis, well, the sky’s pretty much the limit and a lot depends on your particular occupation and the type of material that would tend to be most useful to you.  In terms of some general sources that relate to the Puget Sound economy, however, my two favorites are the Puget Sound Business Journal (they’re currently running a special subscription offer for job hunters; e-mail Elizabeth Case here for details!) and Seattle Business magazine.  Each of these publications puts out a steady stream of great content, well worth paying for, ranging from the Business Journal’s famous annual “Book of Lists” to Seattle Business magazine’s in-depth articles on various business topics — such as the “Mobile Mecca” article running in their current issue, outlining Seattle’s growing and exciting role as a hub of the global telecommunications and wireless industry.

So no need to get bogged down in all this detail, quite yet.  There will be plenty of time to experiment with various sources of information and figure out the media channels that will be most useful for you to follow, going forward.  At this stage, all I’d ask is that you actually COMMIT to some type of regular reading plan — and build it into your job hunting regimen in a structured, consistent way.  You’ll reap ample rewards and benefits from doing so, I promise!

I’m so passionate about this step, in fact, I’ve decided to host a free Introduction to Blog Reading Webinar this coming Monday morning, 1/18, from 8-9am for anybody who wants to log in from their computer and learn more about this topic.  If you’re already well-acquainted with blog reading, RSS feed readers, and the like, this session probably won’t be very productive for you.  If you’re NOT well-versed in these topics, however, or don’t even really understand what I’m talking about, you definitely should try to join us — since I’ll be walking people through some amazingly convenient ways one can use to track and manage LOTS of news and information, using modern technology.  If you’re interested, e-mail me your RSVP here and I’ll send you back the log-in instructions for joining the session!