Job Search Realities in a Tight Market Print E-mail
Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC
The rapidly changing economic conditions are having a profound impact on the job market. If you are one of the thousands of professionals who are unemployed or who are facing unemployment in the near future, there are some Realities you need to face. Job search is never easy and it is getting tougher every day. Unemployment is one of the most stressful events in life but it can be overcome with the right attitude, the right tools, and the right plan.
Buy Side vs. Sell Side
This sounds strange but the job market is just that – a market. You have buyers and sellers. Buyers are employers who are seeking to “purchase” the talents of human capital assets to add to their operation. Sellers are job seekers who are seeking to “sell” their experience and skills to employers who need it. Most people don’t like to think of it that way because it seems impersonal but that’s a Reality.
In a tight economic market, there are more sellers (job seekers) than buyers (employers seeking to hire). Just like a person who is hesitant to invest or spend money during market instability, employers are hesitant to hire during wobbly economic times. Many consumers will hold off on buying that new car or that new large screen plasma TV they’ve been thinking about. Likewise, employers hold off on hiring. They make do with the current employee base or even start thinking of cutting back.
The easiest and fastest ways for companies to cut costs is to cut the work force. Layoffs are a Reality of bad economic times. Stock prices fall and layoffs occur. Sometimes it is a gradual reduction in force where they work it through retirement buyouts, severance packages, and hiring freezes. With a dramatic change in company financial status, drastic and sudden reductions in force can occur. The first thing to get hit in cutbacks is always the workforce.
The Fear Monster
Those sudden layoffs are scary for everyone in the company, even those who make it past the axe without getting slashed. Tension abounds. Fear prowls the hallways. One of the best weapons against fear is information. Lack of information breeds wild assumptions and leads to more uncertainty. Everyone should try to stay as informed as possible about actual events and conditions.
Another weapon against fear is preparation. The worst position you can be in during bad economic times is standing flat-footed with a deer-in-the-headlights posture. Be ready. In relation to job search, that means you need to have a great, up-to-date resume and understand how modern job search works. You need to have a personal network that is kept warm at all times and not simply dragged out of the closet when you need it. You need to be open to opportunities and new directions and be able to evaluate them closely. Be realistic about your current situation. If you are in an industry that is going to get hit hard by a recession, start looking at alternative career paths that are more stable. Be more flexible in the type of work you are willing to consider.
When you are prepared with all the tools you need for a job search, a layoff is not so scary. Even if a layoff does not affect you, having your resume ready makes you prepared for unexpected opportunities that come your way.
Selling in a Glut Market
So you have over twenty years experience and a great track record of success? That’s good but many, many other people have the same background. They are your competition and they are angling for the same job openings you are targeting. Like Coke and Pepsi, there is often very little difference between candidates so how do employers decide whom to interview and whom to exclude from consideration? They decide based on the resume. It’s a job search Reality – employers include candidates based on their resumes. If your resume is not aggressively selling your skills to the buyer (the employer), you will be excluded from consideration and not be called for an interview.
Penny-wise but Pound-foolish
Many job seekers get caught flat-footed and are unprepared for a sudden loss of employment. Many make that worse by puttering along for weeks using an ineffective resume that doesn’t generate interviews. They waste time and opportunities while their funds dwindle until they are in desperate straits with very few options. They come to a realization that they must have a great resume in order to compete in the glut market but they can no longer afford to get help from a professional. The Reality is if they had just invested in a new resume before they were laid off or if they had taken immediate action and started the whole job search process with a great resume, they could have avoided being stuck in a no-win situation.
Job Search Technology
The hiring process and technology are irreversibly enmeshed together. Online job boards, resume databases, intelligent hiring technology, web-based interviewing, and online applications are NOT going to fade away. The paper resume mailed through the postal service or faxed is NOT coming back. Face this Reality now and deal with it. The use of technology in hiring and job search is here to stay and those who learn to adapt will thrive.
Take Action
When facing a job search, you must take action. Learn about how to job search in today’s market. Get the best tools available (resume and cover letter). Be aggressive and proactive rather than reactive and passive. Work your network. Understand the system and how companies hire. Face the facts that it will take longer and be more challenging than the last time you changed jobs. Savvy job seekers know when it is smart to invest in professional help to reach their job search goals. A professional resume writer or coach can help guide you through the market and help you find success.