Cracking the New Job Market

The 7 Rules for Getting Hired in Any Economy

 Cracking the New Job Market

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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Rule #1

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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