Feature: When Nothing Seems to Work
Recently, I received a dispiriting message from a job seeker who could be any one of us. My correspondent wrote, “I have been seeking adequate employment for a few years in New York State and there are no adequate paying jobs. I am now in New Jersey and have applied online as well as walking through three major office complexes in Parsippany, New Jersey. It is more than a growing concern because my next move will be camping out and stockpiling food to survive.”
This person has seemingly taken all the right steps, and still they’ve not been successful in finding a good job.
They’ve done all those things, and they’re still waiting for a job offer that they would consider appropriate for them.
Why is this happening? Are we in a shadow recession, and jobs just aren’t available? Are all those job openings posted on job boards a figment of our imagination? Are all the classified ads in newspapers today just a cruel joke? Is the job market really a jobless market, and no one has had the courtesy to tell the rest of us?
No, the jobs are definitely there. The Conference, Board, for example, reports that almost 2 million new positions are posted on the Internet every month. These are real and unduplicated vacancies. And some of them, at least, are located in Parsippany. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, northern New Jersey (which is where Parsippany is located) had more open jobs in January of this year than any other metropolitan area in the United States.
Then, why is this person having such a hard time finding employment? Well, let’s look at what they’ve done.
First, they talk about finding “adequate employment.” That would seem to suggest that they’ve actually had job offers, but not at the level they want or need. Why would that be? There could, of course, be several reasons, but the most likely is that they do not have the necessary skills and knowledge to compete for the kind of job they want. I know that’s a blunt statement and tough to accept-particularly as the years go by-but it is the inflexible rule of the job market. The half-life of a person’s expertise in most fields today is three-to-five years. If they haven’t updated themselves in that length of time, most employers will consider them obsolete and unable to contribute at the level they-the employers-need.
So, what should my correspondent do? I suggest that they broaden their job search to include a search for skills. They should talk with friends and colleagues in their field to determine what new capabilities would enable them to make a meaningful contribution to an employer and then go back to school to acquire those skills. Unless they need a complete retooling, they can take the courses on a part time basis (at community or traditional colleges, through their professional association) and still have time to continue their search for employment. In fact, they can immediately bolster that effort by noting their ongoing education on their resume. Many employers are impressed with candidates who see themselves as a work-in-progress and take personal responsibility for their own development.
Second, my correspondent is clearly working hard, but are they working smart? They note they’ve been “walking through three major office complexes” in their search for employers with jobs to fill. That certainly shows initiative and determination, but it is unlikely to yield results commensurate with their investment of time and effort. There are only so many hours in the day, and the most successful job searches are those in which every moment is spent wisely.
So, what should this person be doing that might provide a more useful return on their job search efforts? I would suggest that they conduct their research with silicon chips, rather than shoe leather. They should use the Internet to determine what companies are located in those three office complexes (and a hundred more in the northern New Jersey area) and visit their corporate Web-sites to see which have openings they are trying to fill. In the same amount of time they’ve invested in walking around, they can also use those sites and other resources on the Web to investigate the culture of those employers, their compensation and benefits programs and their commitment to work-life balance. In short, they can make more progress surfing the Web than by pounding the pavement.
Finally, my correspondent adds a despairing tone to their message by concluding that without success soon, they “will be camping out and stockpiling food to survive.” Looking for a job can be a frustrating, depressing, and even humiliating experience. Employers and recruiters aren’t always the best judges of talent, and they sometimes don’t behave with the courtesy they should. The key for the job seeker, therefore, is to inoculate themselves, as best they can, from the emotional overhang that can and often does darken a job search.
How can my correspondent do that? By networking with friends and colleagues, by connecting with those who are looking for a job and those who aren’t. The support and assistance of others is a great tonic. It will reassure them that they aren’t alone in the struggle for employment and that their peers have experienced similar trials and survived and prospered. I call this activity “soul work,” and it’s every bit as important as keeping skills up-to-date and doing smart research for employment opportunities. Happily, there are numerous places where soul work can be accomplished, both online and off. For example, many churches and civic organizations sponsor support groups for those in transition. Similarly, professional associations and affinity groups (e.g., organizations serving veterans, senior financial executives, women in technology) hold regular meetings where a person’s batteries can be recharged among friends and peers. And, if it’s not convenient to attend these meetings, they can still participate online. Many of the same organizations host discussion forums on their Web-sites where a person can network with others from the convenience of their home.
If you’re actively looking for a new or better job, there’s likely to come a moment when nothing seems to work. You’ve done everything you can think of and still, you can’t turn up an offer. When that moment comes, remember this: it’s not what you do in a job search that determines your success; it’s how you do it. You have to be smart, work smart and tend to your soul to find and win your dream job.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Don’t keep WEDDLE’s to yourself. If you like our newsletter, please tell your friends and colleagues about it. They’ll appreciate your thinking of them. And, we will too!
Section Two: Site News You Can Use
Accenture announced the results of its survey of the hiring plans of senior executives in North America, Europe and Asia. What did it find? Almost four-fifths (78%) of the 900 C-level respondents said they would be hiring in the next six months, either to fill current vacancies or to expand their workforce. Why the surge? Apparently, despite widespread political and social tensions, the world’s economy is relatively robust. An astonishing 75% of the leaders expect their companies and their industries to grow in 2006. Does that mean finding a new or better job will now be a whole lot easier? Absolutely not. The competition for employment in good jobs and with good employers remains fierce. The winners will be those who realize that a job search is the most demanding job most of us have ever had and they rise to the occasion.
CareerJournal.com published a number of tips for “moms returning to work.” According to the site, women who put their careers on hold to raise children often face real and difficult challenges when they try to reenter the workforce. What can they do to minimize the problems?
Robert Half International conducted a survey of chief financial officers to determine where they think most candidates get derailed in their efforts to land a job with an employer. What did they finger? Not surprisingly, the interview drew the most votes. How do most candidates blow this tête-à-tête? According to the respondents:
To put it another way, you’re just wasting your time in an interview if (a) you haven’t done your homework, (b) you’d rather be someplace else, and/or (c) you aren’t willing to invest the time and effort necessary to sell yourself to the company.
WEDDLE’s is now offering an audio-based seminar to help you find your dream job on the Internet.
Called How to Look for a Job on the Web … and Still Look Like a Winner, the program will be presented by WEDDLE’s Publisher, Peter Weddle, on:
It begins at 11:00 a.m. EST, 8:00 a.m. PST and is one hour long.
What are the benefits of the seminar?
What’s the fee? Just $49 per person! Sure, it’s hard to spend money when you’re looking for a job. But think of this program as an investment … an investment in your future.
Registration is limited, so reserve your seat now. To sign up, please call WEDDLE’s at 203.964.1888.
WetFeet released the results of a study of internship programs around the U.S.. It found that those participating in such programs had a definite advantage in the competition for a good job after graduation. According to the site, 59% of undergraduates and 71% of MBA students with internships during the summer of 2005 reported that they had already received or expected to receive a full time job offer from their internship employer by the end of the fall. Those rates were up from 43% and 63% respectively in 2003. How can you make sure an internship works for you? Look for opportunities where you will get:
Section Three: Site Profiles
Site Insite … how well do you know the Web’s 40,000+ job boards?
1. You’re an experienced recreation professional looking for a position with a municipal park department or community organization. Which of the following sites would help you level the playing field in the competition for vacancies in your area?
2. You’ve got good telephone skills and think call center work might be fun. Where could you go online to connect with great employment opportunities?
3. You’ve just received your financial planning license and are looking for a position with a local bank. Which of the following sites would help you build a solid foundation for a successful job search?
Site Spotlite … from the pages of WEDDLE’s 2005/6 Guides and Directories
The BLACK COLLEGIAN Online
Post full time jobs: Yes
Post part time, contract or consulting jobs: Yes – Part time
Distribution of jobs: National-USA
Number of jobs: 10,000
Salary levels of jobs: $51-75K/yr, $76-100K/yr
Offer a job agent: Yes
Resume database: Yes
How long are resumes stored: 1 year
Restrictions on who can post: None
Other services for job seekers: Career information, Links to other sites with resources
Member, International Association of Employment Web Sites: No
Answers to Site Insite
1. All but ParkJobs.com, the site of an European staffing firm.
2. All but TelePros.com, the site of a company offering “pro engineering and sports handicapping.”
3. Only jobsinthemoney.com; PlanningJobs.com is the site of a civil engineering consulting firm, FPjobs.com is the site of a medical search company, and BankPlanning.com is the site of a facilities planning company that specializes in banks.