Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Q4 Job Market Update

In my last Update I predicted an up-swing in September. This was primarily based on two factors. The summer slow down was coming to an end and the economy was recovering and would promote job growth. The reality is that there has not been an up-swing, more like a small bump from the bottom.

Companies are still laying off workers to get to profitability. The predictions on a jobless recovery early in 2009 seem to be on the mark. Why? - companies are looking for profitability and are shedding human capital and avoiding projects to get there. Other companies are being acquired thus eliminating employers altogether. The companies that are growing are selectively hiring but doing it cautiously. The Mercury news article earlier this months verifies this activity ( http://www.siliconvalley.com/the-valley/ci_13766368).

What is in store for us is hard to know. At this point we are in a better employment market than in July and August but not good enough to provide job seekers multiple opportunities.

My advice at this time is to be flexible in compensation (be open to a small reduction in salary) and look at any role that will help your long term career goals. It does not need to be a step up in responsibility, it can be a role that provides experiences that will round out your over all background thus making you more marketable in two to four years when the market is much better.

There is a good chance that new opportunities will slow down to a halt in middle of December. Now is the time to look at all options otherwise you may be in the same position mid to late January when everyone is back from holidays and caught up with their work.

Where should you be looking for a job? Use your network to provide any and all resources that may help. I look to the moneytree (https://www.pwcmoneytree.com/MTPublic/ns/nav.jsp?page=industry) for investments into growth industry segments. The greatest industry investments in Q3, 2009 were - Biotechnology/Medical Device - 32%, Industrial/Energy - 18% and Software 13%. Businesses in mature markets may not be growing but have been hiring and upgrading their talent. These are very good employers with good career paths. Something to think about if you are looking for a more "secure or predictable" employment situation.

Happy hunting!

Bryon McDougall

Monday, November 23, 2009

What Am I Doing Wrong? Networking Revisited

I have a new client, a senior IT professional, who has been struggling in his search for new employment. Though he has a well-documented track record, he’s had a very hard time getting interviews. His main search strategy has been to use the job boards, and after sending out at least 500 resumes in response to job openings, he has had exactly 8 interviews. His success rate of 1.6% is not very good, to say the least, but probably sounds all too familiar to those of you who utilize any of the local and national job boards.

He came to coaching with the question, “What am I doing wrong?” My response was that nearly everyone’s experience with posted jobs is about the same, and that if he relies only or primarily on “visible” job openings, he is severely limiting his odds of getting an interview. I added that he has “blinded” himself to the many opportunities that exist only in the hidden job market, those that never see the light of day.

When we started talking about networking, he laughed, and responded that he hasn’t been networking because he felt that someone at his level shouldn’t need to “beg” people for work or connections. He sees networking as a vague process and beneath his stature and experience. When we explored further, it turned out that he was embarrassed about networking mainly because he didn’t know how to tell his story in a way that was compelling and that he didn’t really know how to ask for help.

We began by having him script and practice his elevator pitch. The first thing I asked him to describe was his “hook;” a word, phrase or sentence that would get a listener immediately in the mood to hear more about who he is and what he has to offer. It was no surprise that he was unable to articulate his hook, and so that became his first homework assignment.

We then focused on how he could ask for help so that people would be likely to offer him useful ideas, information, or advice. He immediately recognized that asking directly for a job or leads to job openings was too blunt, especially if he was meeting someone for the first time. He also realized that he was much more likely to gain support if he framed his request in a way that people would respond with “yes,” instead of “no”. This, then, became his second homework assignment: How to ask for help so that people will give a positive and supportive response.

Best wishes and Happy Thanksgiving.

Mark Guterman

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"What is the most significant change in client expectations over the past two years?"

This question provided by Canaan Ridge (www.canaanridge.com) - Exceptional thinking forum. Michael Inserra from Alchemy Search provided one of two winning responses:

"I can summarize my client thoughts in one word: Relationships

Clients want to see a dedicated professional relationship. My clients want to work with service providers who invest time in getting to know them. They want to see time spent on site getting to understand the holistic value proposition their firm offers. Clients want a more personalized and unique approach, personal dedication, and a genuine interest in scaling with them verses a transaction. Process-wise, clients need confidence that we are one step ahead on logistics and have eliminated the obstiacles to close smoothly. There is no tolerance for leaving the final step up to chance."