Cracking the New Job Market
The 7 Rules for Getting Hired in Any Economy
Author: R. William Holland, Ph.D.
Pub Date: August 2011
Print Edition: $17.95
Print ISBN: 9780814417348
Page Count: 256
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814417355
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Always Demonstrate Your Value
When Bob learned that his name was on a list of IT employees whose jobs were to be downsized—a polite term for “fired”—he knew exactly what would happen next. This was the third time in five years he had gone through the same routine. He would attend a group meeting, which would be followed by a one-on-one session with an outplacement counselor, followed by an appointment the very next day to start his job search.
Bob would again be told that terminated employees should not dwell on
negative emotions. Those who start on their job searches right away find
work more quickly than those who do not. The group meetings always
seemed to be held during the week but never on Fridays. He would
eventually understand that outplacement firms got paid based on their
“pick-up” rate—the number of people who actually start programs. Getting
them to start without an intervening weekend improved the rate.
But Bob had more to think about than how outplacement firms made money.
He was worried about his own finances and how long it would be before
the family had to make major adjustments in their standard of living. He
had new bills to consider, like health-care premiums and perhaps tuition
for a return to school for the training required to change careers—to an
area less subject to downsizing.
He also started to think about the damage this last layoff did to his
reputation. Though aware that layoffs in some fields and industries are
more common than in others, he wondered if employers were beginning to
think that the problem was with him and that he simply couldn’t hold a
job. Three jobs in five years would surely get a thumbs-down from hiring
managers. They will want to know what’s wrong
with me, he thought.
But now was not the time for self-analysis. First, he had to find a job,
and he knew exactly what to do. He quickly updated his résumé by adding
his most recent position to an already polished document. He had been
taught by outplacement counselors: “Always keep your résumé up-to-date
and stay in touch with your networking contacts.” Of course, most people
hate to network. They are not very good at it and quit doing it the
minute they find other employment. The motto of outplacement
professionals Bob worked with was, “Be prepared and stay connected. And
don’t forget to join as many self-help groups as you reasonably can.
They will help you tap into the hidden job market.”
Bob would do all that, but this time he would make a significant change.
He had learned about a new way to look for white-collar work: value
creation. He noticed that certain people had figured out that their job
instability wasn’t their fault. There was nothing wrong with them and
they knew it. The skills each one brought to the job market were similar
to those of others, yet these people appeared to be most in demand from
employers. When he met them, he wondered, “What do they know that I
During previous job searches, Bob approached the task in a predetermined
sequential order: update the résumé; look for positions that match; and
in knee-jerk reaction, apply for the jobs at hand. He now understood,
however, that the requirements of similar jobs change from one
organization to the next, depending on the specific problems each
company is looking to solve. Now, his first order of business was to
discover what those problems are and to adjust his application
accordingly. Using this new approach, he landed an IT manager’s job at a
comparable salary within five months.
Bob was convinced that his application got attention because of what he
noticed about the position description. Besides the normal competencies
every candidate is expected to have, there were key words in the job
description that he could use to customize his résumé, making it
specific for this job opening. The keys included the maintenance of a
professional image (one of the main reasons the job was vacant),
alignment of IT goals with corporate strategy, and IT policy
development. These were skills Bob had demonstrated in previous
positions. This time, however, he made sure they were emphasized
throughout the application process—including in his résumé, cover
letter, and interviews. The key points represented areas in which the
hiring organization wanted value created. The IT manager positions in
other companies might emphasize different problems. For each opening, it
was important that he customize his résumé to address the areas the
companies considered important and never assume that the same job in one
company would address the problems in another company.
You should note that none of this made Bob’s job more secure. He could
get a job one month and be downsized the next. He would, of course, be
disappointed but not downhearted. There was nothing wrong with him, and
he knew it. He also had the added advantage of understanding value
creation and the role it plays in today’s marketplace of jobs. He is now
able to adjust his approach to finding a job to reflect the new
realities in the market—adjustments he would not have made using the
same job-search methods he had learned earlier. At one time, employers
were impressed by his familiarity with different aspects of information
technology. He now understood that they wanted more. He had to emphasize
how his skills matched the job descriptions of potential employers. He
received a lot more interest once he focused on exactly what employers
wanted, and as a result, he became a lot less anxious about instability
in the white-collar job market.
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