Feature: Never Stop Looking for a Career Advancement Opportunity

Feature: Never Stop Looking for a Career Advancement Opportunity

Feature: Never Stop Looking for a Career Advancement Opportunity

This is the second in a four-part series that describes the new Darwinian world of job volatility and three of the key skills required for survival in this difficult employment environment. To read the first part, click on the Newsletter archive at WEDDLE’s and look for the issue dated September 1, 2003.

Regardless of your profession, craft or trade, regardless of the industry in which you work and regardless of the location of your home, employment today is a risky proposition. You can be the best employee doing first rate work for a decent employer and still find yourself out of the street and unemployed without any warning. Not because of executive indifference or malfeasance (although that is sometimes the cause) or because of any nefarious plot, but because things change, and the pace of that change is accelerating. In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that, now, markets are shifting, businesses are merging and being acquired, and leadership is coming and going at warp speed. And every time such a shift occurs, it puts a strain on your job security.

So, what should you do? You can bob along in the currents of these changes and hope for the best. Or, you can take steps now to protect yourself and continue your advancement in the world of work. If you elect to take the latter course, you’ll need a whole new set of skills for personal career management. In effect, you’ll have to work at two jobs from now on: one will entail being the best you can be in your occupational field, and the other will involve being just as good in guiding your career toward goals that are important to you. In other words, to be successful in the Darwinian world of job volatility, you have to work for your employer and you have to work for yourself.

I know that sounds like a big assignment, but thanks to the Internet, there are now a number of activities that you can perform efficiently to manage your own career effectively. Three of the most important are:

  • Staying ever vigilant by putting job agents to work for you,
  • Staying ever connected by networking electronically everyday, abd
  • Staying ever prepared by always being interview ready.
  • This column will focus on the first: using job agents to search for a job every day, all day for the rest of your working life. I’ll cover the other two skill areas in my next two columns.

    Stay ever vigilant by putting job agents to work for you.

    What is a job agent? It’s a free job search service that is now offered by about 40% of all job boards and career portals operating on the Internet. Job agents go by many different names:

  • At NationJob.com, it’s called P.J. Scout (for “personal job scout”),
  • At Monster.com, it’s called My Monster, and
  • At DICE.com, it’s called JobAlert.

    Regardless of their specific name, however, all job agents are designed to help you find the jobs you want without the work and hassle of digging through a database of job postings.

    Here’s how they work:

  • First, you sign up for the agent at a site. Typically, you’ll be asked to specify the kind of job you want, and, at the better sites, your target salary level and location of interest. At some sites, you can use a pseudonym when registering, and at others, you must actually reveal your identity. I suggest that you sign up for at least four different agents: one each at sites that specialize in your career field, industry and geographic area of preference and one at one of the three major job boards: Monster.com, HotJobs.com and/or CareerBuilder.com.
  • Second, the job agent compares your specified job description to every job that is posted on the site. Sometimes, this search occurs daily; more often, it occurs on a weekly basis.
  • Third, whenever a match is found, the site sends you a confidential e-mail message indicating that it has found a job of interest to you. At some sites, the actual job posting is included with the e-mail message; at others, the message will include a link back to the posting on the job board. In either case, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to take the time to check it out.

    As you can see, there are a number of important benefits to using job agents:

    (1) You can stay continuously on top of the job market. Should you have to embark on an unexpected job search, it won’t be from a dead stop. You have an up-to-the-minute gauge of what opportunities are available in your field.

    (2) You can get a feel for possible next steps in your career. You gain a sense of other positions for which you’re qualified and/or in which you might be interested. You can also determine the skills and experience necessary to compete successfully for those positions, if and when you decide to make a move.

    (3) Your privacy is protected. You can acquire the first two benefits with full confidentiality. Hence, a job agent is a service you should use when you’re looking for a job and when you’re not. It’s a kind of employment insurance that helps you stay in charge of what happens next in your worklife.

    Job agents are just one part of a job search campaign. They are not a substitute for networking and research or even for checking the print recruitment ads and job postings online. They will, however, help you cut down on the work involved in finding opportunities of interest to you and open a private window onto the job market so that you always have a view of what can be in your future.

    NOTE: I am pleased to announce that Borders Books is hosting me at its White Plains, New York bookstore where I will present my WINNER’s Strategy for successful online job search and career management. The session is open to the public and will run from 7-9:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 17, 2003. (They’ll also have lots of copies of my 2003 Job Seeker’s Guide to Employment Web Sites available for purchase.) For directions to the store, please visit the Borders site. I get a chance to visit with you every two weeks via this newsletter, but here’s a way for us to meet face-to-face. I hope to see many of you there.

    Section Two: Site News

    Christian & Timbers, a global executive search firm, polled 148 executives at public companies and found schizophrenia in the executive suite. On the one hand, 46% of the respondents reported that their companies were understaffed; on the other, 42% say they do not expect to do significant hiring for U.S. operations in the next year. Why does this situation exist? According to economists, productivity gains now provide 3% annual growth in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. New entrants into the workforce account for another 1%. As a consequence, business must expand at an annual rate of greater than 4% for new jobs to be created. Current forecasts for GDP growth average 5% for the 4th Quarter of 2003 and 4% for 2004. What does that mean for job seekers? There is some light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s not going to be bright enough to require sun glasses.

    HotJobs, the Yahoo! employment site, recently surveyed job seekers to determine if they knew which questions were out of bounds (i.e., in violation of federal/state and/or local law) in employment interviews. Almost 75% knew that it was inappropriate for an employer to ask the origin of their name, and 91% knew that an employer cannot ask a candidate if they planned to have children. But what about these questions:

  • What clubs do you belong to?
  • Do you have a disability?
  • Have you ever been arrested?
  • How will you get to work?
  • Are they appropriate? No. None of them are. If you’re unsure of what you can and can’t be asked in an employment interview, take the time to learn. There is plenty of free information on the Web.

    Princeton Management Consultants representative Niels Nielsen announced that the U.S. unemployment rate is significantly understated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to his calculations, if you add in workers who are discouraged (i.e., those who are neither working nor looking for a job, but who want to work) and reluctant part-timers (i.e., those who have taken a part time job because they can’t find a full time one), the real rate of unemployment could be as high as 10.5%. That seems to be borne out by the increasing length of most job searches. According to the BLS, it took 18.4 weeks to find a new position in July of this year, up a whopping 16% from last year.

    SHRM.org, the site of the Society for Human Resource Management, announced the results of a recent poll of employer-supported vacation days. It found that companies, on average, offered 6.28 days of paid vacation and 13.24 paid days off to people who had been with the organization less than one year; people who had been with the organizations five to less than ten years earned 15.18 days of vacation and 22.04 paid days off; while employees who had been with the organization ten or more years accumulated 18.65 days of vacation per year and 25.30 paid days off. Wall Street has taken to patting corporate America on the back for its “impressive productivity gains.” Compare these figures to companies in Europe, where employees regularly earn 60 or more days of paid vacation, and it’s not hard to figure out where those productivity gains are coming from. Now, don’t get me wrong … I’m not saying that the European model is better-we work in a competitive global economy after all-but I am suggesting that you can wear people down and out, if you don’t give them a meaningful level of time away from the job.

    WEDDLE’s, a research and publishing firm specializing in human resources, released the latest results of its job board and career portal research. It found that the following sites were no longer in operation: EngineersonNet.com, Mechanical Engineering (www.mechengcareers.com), Industry Week Career Center (www.industryweekcareers.com), ITSalesResumes.com, Sales.com, SalesGuyCareers.com, SalesHead.com, SalesRepCentral.com, SalesSeek.com and SalesWorkz.com.

    Section Three: Site Profiles

    Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?

    If you’re a dentist looking to join a growing dental surgery practice in Detroit, which of the following sites would likely give you a pain in the jaw?

  • SmileJobs.com
  • Drillers.com
  • DentalJobs.com
  • JobDentist.com
  • If you’re an auto repair technician working in Boston and want to move to a new job in another garage, which of the following sites might leave you spinning your wheels?

  • NeedTechs.com
  • AutomotiveTechs.com
  • AutoCareers.com
  • Axle.org
  • If you’re a scientist seeking a position with a fast growing agribusiness, where would you likely end up starving for work?

  • AgricutlureJobs.com
  • Weed Jobs
  • AgCareers at Farm.com
  • BeanBrains.com
  • (answers below)

    Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2003 Guides and Directories


    (a part of the McGraw-Hill Construction group)

    Post full time jobs: Yes

    Post part time/consulting jobs: Yes

    Distribution of jobs: National: USA

    Number of jobs: 1,000

    Salary levels of jobs: Not Reported

    Offer a job agent: Yes

    Resume database: Yes

    How long are resumes stored: 180 days

    Restrictions on who can post: None

    Other services for job seekers: Career/job search information, Links to off-site resources, Confidentiality feature: block out contact information in resume database

    Answers to Site Insite:

  • Drillers.com, a site specializing in the oil drilling industry
  • Axle.org, the site of the Association of ex-Lotus Employees
  • BeanBrains.com, a finance and accounting site
  • N