Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Truths About the New Job Market

One of the first things a job seeker must do in finding a new job is to understand how the job market has changed. Most job seekers quickly learn that the market is different; they just don’t take the time to understand the ways in which it has changed and what they must do to be successful in it.

Entering the job market without an awareness of the changes is like walking into a dark room and being told to go to the other side. You can’t even see your hand in front of your face so you surely can’t see where the other side of the room is, less how to get there. Most job seekers stumble around in the dark and, although they are working as hard as they can, they are getting nowhere.

Understanding the new truths about the job market is like turning on a light in that room. Although it is not a place you want to spend a lot of time, you can see where you are going, avoid the obstacles along the way, and you can get where you are going faster.

Here are some of the major changes that make up the new job market.

1) The day of the gold watch retirement is over

In the past, companies rewarded loyal employees who performed well with assurances of a job and retirement benefits.

Fast forward to today: Most companies are no longer rewarding longevity with pension plans; many are even discontinuing the company match for 401K plans. Industries that have never done so before are laying off people and even good performers are being “right sized” or “downsized” purely for financial reasons.

2) Your next job will not be your last

In the past anyone who changed jobs every 2-3 years was considered a job hopper and not favored for employment. Today, anyone who has worked for one company for over 10 years is at a disadvantage. The belief today is that the skills and experiences of anyone with that type of longevity with a single company are probably limited.

When asked what one word of advice he would have for recent graduates, a famous author recently said ”Do not spend 5 years getting 2 years worth of experience”. The new statistic being quoted is that most people will have 4 careers and 18 different jobs in their lifetimes.

Consider the home phone as an analogy for the job market. Your grandparents or great grandparents probably had only one phone in the house hard-wired in a central location such as the kitchen or at the bottom of the stairs. If the phone was ripped out of the wall, it would leave a hole in the wall and loose wires.

Today, if there is a home phone, it is modular and there is an outlet in every room. You plug the phone into the outlet and when needed, you can cleanly unplug it and plug it in elsewhere. In the new job market, you plug into your new job, you work well, and you unplug cleanly when the time is right, leaving nothing behind, and cleanly plug into another company and work well there.

3) Although not a new approach, networking is THE way to find and land a job.

Networking has always been a successful approach to finding a job. In the past though, responding to ads in the paper also worked.

Today it is rare to find a newspaper job advertisement since most companies have their own on-line job boards. There are also hundreds if not thousands of general and industry specific job boards. The job seeker needs to understand, though, that only 15% of the available jobs are listed. 85% of the available jobs make up the “hidden” job market and cannot be found on any of the job boards.

It is through networking that job seekers will find the hidden job market and it is through networking that a job seeker will be able to stand out from other job seekers who just mailed in their resumes.

4) Credentials are not sufficient, STARs are needed as well

In landing the next job, it is not only important what education and certificates you have, it is also important to be able to communicate your previous accomplishments and abilities using the details of actual stories (STARs). Find out the problem the company is looking to solve by hiring the right person and use your STARs to state what you bring to address that need.

We were not asked if we wanted the changes that have occurred to the job market; they just happened. To survive and thrive, job seekers must adapt and the first step to adapting is to understand how the market has changed.

Written by: Judi Adams, founder and senior job search coach of RightChanges, “The Affordable Job Search Coach”.

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