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Approaches to Today’s Job Search

07 October
by Raymond Lee
3 minute read

There’s movement in the job market again.  After several years of people fearing a job change and settling for a position they may have outgrown, there’s movement.  This combined with positive economic growth is at last creating new openings.

Businesswoman and colleague working at their desk in the office.jpeg

So what factors should you be thinking about as you look at new job opportunities post that lingering 2008 recession?  Consider these approaches to today's job search:

The challenges of a layoff have become known to far more Americans over the last eight years than ever before.  So take a lesson from that and plan ahead.  When benefits are explained by prospective employers, look for the level and nature of severance and outplacement services that are offered.  Think of this benefit as being similar to insurance.   We don’t dwell on a possible car accident but with that premium we pay every month, at least we know we’ll be covered.

Severance and outplacement services can be viewed similarly.  If you’re affected by a layoff, severance and  outplacement  can provide the support you need to transition  smoothly. You’re not being negative or cynical, just practical.  In addition, the extent of severance and outplacement  that your prospective employer provides is an indication of just how much its leaders invest in their people no matter what.  That’s what you want to see not so much for your wallet or paycheck, but more for your own peace of mind.  Company leaders can say they care about their people, but where’s the evidence?  Severance and outplacement services can be the proof.

Back in 2009 when ING Americas was facing a staff reduction, Executive Vice President for HR and Brand Tom Waldron told Workforce.com, “This is our brand.  We believe these people will be our customers and that many of them will come back to work for us.”  Keep your eye out for this kind of long-term thinking.

A second concept to be thinking of when looking at new jobs are opportunities for you to excel.  Maybe you’re thinking “of course that’s what I’m looking for.”  But here’s the context: resumes of the 21st century focus or highlight accomplishments, impact, change, benefits and improvements that you can point to as yours.  If this new position offers limited opportunities for you to really have impact, what are you going to highlight on your resume in a few years?  Explore this, maybe in response when a hiring manager asks “what questions do you have for me?”  And what a great question… “what opportunities will I have to introduce change, have an impact and make improvements?”

One more concept for you to strategize: corporate or internal ladders.  As recently as ten years ago, when big companies announced promotions, almost every employee would have a ladder showing his/her progression, often from field sales all the way up through headquarters positions.  These may still exist in big companies today but they are not nearly as common as in our fathers’ and grandfathers’ time.  So your career ladder is very much in your court.

Ask yourself if this new opportunity is consistent or at least related to your ideal career ladder?  Would it be a good step toward your bigger goal?

In the 20th century, many times a career ladder would already be there for us to climb.  In the place of rungs would be a natural progression of titles.  Once we (really our fathers and grandfathers) got in, they could stay for 30 years.

More often today that ball is in your court, you can determine where each rung will take you.  So grab this opportunity, set a course for yourself that starts with the knowledge that:

  • Severance and outplacement services are there if you need them
  • Focus on accomplishments to succeed on the job while developing compelling resume material
  • You’re more than a big company, determine your own career path.

Envision your path, and on that new job, live out the dream.

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