Saturday, November 15, 2008

Staying in the Game

Steve Hernandez and I facilitated a transition workshop last week for a group of people that has just been laid off from a Bay Area company. In addition to the typical questions about resumes, cover letters, and networking, they were also expressing concerns about the state of the economy and how that will impact their ability to get re-employed.

I think by now everyone realizes that we are in a troubled economy and all signs are that the job market will get worse before it gets better. Though this may be discouraging or even depressing to many, and can dampen one’s sense of optimism about the future, I’d like to offer another point of view. The job market, whether robust and expanding or moribund and contracting, is always in dynamic motion. In other words, even in the worst of times, there are always opportunities to find work.

Because these opportunities are harder to see and access and the competition is more intense, there are several things you can do now to improve your odds of finding work. The first is getting clear about your skill set and recognizing how those skills are applicable in your own field and also in at least one alternative field. If you aren’t sure where your skills might transfer, I’d suggest you begin researching now to find that answer. In addition, and perhaps, most importantly, you must be able to articulate the value your skills can add for a potential employer.

In a tight job market, people who have connections have a real advantage. Even then, their odds don’t improve much unless they are willing and able to tap into that network and leverage those contacts into employment opportunities. Networking is always a good practice and during these times, it is especially critical, not only to open doors, but also to minimize having to compete for opportunities that are posted on the various job sites.

Finally, and perhaps the most important, is the need to be patient. A job or career transition is challenging in the best of times, but as we look ahead to the job market in 2009, patience may be your most valuable ally. Recognize those things over which you have control (making those calls everyday, staying hopeful, etc.) and let go of those over which you do not (the state of the job market, people who don’t return your inquiries, etc.) and keep moving. Remember, it may take longer than you’d like, but if you stay in the game, you will have a successful transition.

Best wishes.

Mark Guterman