Last month the University's Chicago Alumni Club organized an event for alumni who are currently seeking employment during this difficult economy. The event featured a panel of alumni and non-alumni speakers discussing their experiences of both being laid off and helping others seek employment. One of the panelists, Russ Jones, of First Transitions, Inc. provided the following information, which we're borrowing for today's blog post:
Looking for a New Position in a Difficult Economy
The media has frightened employers, employees, job seekers and investors to a level not seen since the early ‘80s. The picture painted is bleak. In many cases, if we were aware of the rest of the story, we would be concerned, but not engaged in the full blown panic we see, hear and experience in the marketplace each day. Each day we seem to get a fresh dose of the doom and gloom of our economy as we read the print and broadcast news headlines concerning the reductions in force of thousands of employees by organizations across the country. These reports frighten many people who take the news at face value.
Let’s take a closer look. In many cases what the media fails to explain is that a job force reduction of, say, 30,000, doesn’t mean that 30,000 people are losing their jobs the next day. Certainly, some of the affected employees will lose their jobs immediately, but many others will accept early retirement or severance packages with generous payouts. Still more job cuts will come from attrition or not filling currently open positions. The headcount will dissipate over the course of perhaps several years, not immediately. In many cases, these large headcount announcements are made to make shareholders content with the actions taken. With the profit pressure placed on CEOs, announcing a large scale workforce reduction appeases stockholders and Boards of Directors and is a quick way to show potential savings of millions of dollars.
So, the next time you hear or read about a large scale reduction in force, read the fine print and realize how many are affected immediately versus the number announced. Recognizing, however, that those at the helms of organizations are also reading these headlines, they too have a bit of fear about the future instilled in them. There is a higher rate of unemployment than there has been in several years. Market conditions dictate that finding a new position is more difficult than it has been in several years. After all, there are more individuals pursuing fewer positions.
The question then becomes, “How do I give myself a competitive advantage in such a competitive job market?” Here are 8 factors that can give you the edge.
1) ATTITUDE is the single most important attribute in finding a new position. Organizations have no interest in hiring individuals that don’t think positively about themselves, their abilities or the company with whom they are interviewing. Attitude is your best friend or your worst enemy and you have control over your outlook and how you choose to see the world.
2) Take inventory, know what you have to sell and how will you add value to an organization. Take the time to consider your skills, abilities, interests and accomplishments. Write them down and think through what employers want in the positions that you will seek. Determine how you will bring across your personality, values and marketable skills to the interview—whether in person or on the telephone.
3) Consider the possibilities. Think about how your skills can be marketed to a variety of employers. Your training, education, and work experience have prepared you for a variety of options. Career assessment inventories can help you uncover some of these possibilities. Community colleges can provide inexpensive or free access to these assessment tools.
4) Be realistic. Finding a new position takes time. Be patient, allocate time to work on your search every day and don’t spend too much time researching positions on the internet. After all, only 4% of job seekers are successful in finding new positions online.
5) Do your homework. Make sure that you are knowledgeable about the organizations and individuals that you contact. Google, LinkedIn, Zoom Info, association websites, company websites, etc. provide information about organizations and people. Taking the time to be knowledgeable can give you the edge.
6) You can’t network enough. It may be all we hear about, but in today’s market, more than 70% of job seekers’ success comes from networking. Networking is about seeking advice, information, ideas, referrals and coaching while being able to discuss your interests without asking for a job. Good dialogue will create opportunities. Make a list of friends, co-workers, past co-workers, family members, professional contacts, etc. and develop a game plan for contacting and staying in touch. Join job clubs, attend business and professional meetings and seek out your alumni. Don’t forget your network once you have landed.
7) Rely on your friends. Ask a trusted professional friend or friends to be your support and confidante during this process. We all need “cheerleaders” in our lives to maintain our spirits.
8) Be relentless. Though a job search can be painfully difficult, as there is far more rejection than acceptance, we must remain focused on the task at hand. Each day have goals regarding contacts, expanding our network and gaining face to face interviews. After all, each new interaction has the possibility of leading to the position that you are seeking.
Strategies for finding a new position in a down economy are no different than times when our economy is robust. Securing a new position in any economy is competitive. Our current economy, where there are more applicants for fewer positions, requires us to be more competitive. There is a smaller margin for error. As a result, we must plan and strategize, prepare, make a stronger effort and execute each aspect of our search in order to gain a competitive edge over other job seekers.
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