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How to... Deal with a slow market and a few tips to help you survive the economic slowdown

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How do you get through a downturn if you're out of work or a freelancer? Well, there are a few basic things that apply to everyone in this situation. Here are a few of them...

Look at your CV and ask yourself if it is pleasing to the eye and does it represent you to the best of your ability. If you have any doubts then invest time on it. Many people underestimate the importance of a well-structured and thought through CV. Make sure that you have all the important achievements down without answering too many questions. Be factual and make sure that it is tailored to the particular type of role you are going for. Avoid having an extremely long CV, ideally it should only be 2 pages, and be sure that the first page has impact. Please don't put a picture on the front cover - it can really turn people off.

If you're a designer or creative of any description, then your portfolio has to be of the highest standard. If you haven't got all your best work in it, make sure you go and track it down. If you're a web designer then your own site is essential. Often sites change, so the examples of work you did may no longer be online.

Be yourself and don't try to play the interview game. It is all about connecting with people and if you try to be something you are not it will back fire in the long run. However, you will need to have done your homework so that you know all about the company and the sort of work they do.

During a difficult period, changing markets and negative press it is easy to become defeatist. If you start out with a negative attitude it will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. So keep focused and determined, and remember there is always work out there and nothing ever stays the same. Just make sure you keep positive and don't allow yourself to be affected by negative news and knock backs, which will ultimately lower your confidence. Though this is a difficult thing to do it is essential, otherwise it will hinder your chances. When you have knock backs don't take them personally. Leave them behind and keep focused on the path ahead.

As simple as this is, we often forget to actually give ourselves time to think in the right environment, as there is so much going on. Set aside time to think about the problems ahead of you and were you want to go. We all need mind space. Create a plan.

Create a clear plan where you want to be, how you are going to get there and what you are going to do. Set yourself goals and targets to achieve, and keep to them. If you have a clear vision of where you want to be, it makes it so much easier to achieve and will keep you focused. Everyone (just like a company) should have a 1 year, 3 year and 5 year plan. Once you have a plan it makes it so much easier to work effectively but make sure you keep reviewing it, as things change so quickly

Focus on what you can do to make the situation better. Always ask yourself, is this taking me down the right path to my goal or is it just filling the time?

During a downturn it is far too easy to focus on the things you want to do, rather than the right things to do. Good time management is even more important during a downturn, as often we need to be pro-active, rather than re-active. It is very easy to spend time on things that we want to work on, rather than the things that we should work on. The upshot is to ask yourself - is this going to get me work, make me money or achieve my goal?

Work out what you stand for, what you do and make sure that message gets across. Look at what else you can do to add to your experience and skill base. If you focus on a particular skill then make sure that you carry on training and expanding your knowledge. Ideally in a difficult market look to gain new skills as companies move away from very specific requirements to looking for people with a wider skill base. The competition in a downturn market can be extremely high so make sure you differentiate yourself from the rest.

Focus on developing and strengthening existing relationships. Networking and building relationships are the key part to developing potential work opportunities. During an up market, complacency can set in. It's not until the market starts to slow that people start to truly realise the importance of relationships. Look to develop as many new contacts as possible.

Many people come to us looking for work and they don't help themselves by being incredible arrogant or self-important. What goes round comes round so if you have any form of chip on your shoulder it is time to get rid of it. Fitting into a team has always been an important part of the recruitment process but it becomes even more important in a down turn market. Be as flexible as possible.

Work out your true value and costs so that you can calculate what you charge or what you need. Work out what you really need and don't over price yourself. The market has changed and over the past few years your rates or salaries may have increased dramatically. This will not continue and if you want the work then you will need to reconsider what you are looking for. This is particularly true of the digital market.

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