The Risk – Adverse Hiring Environment
Everyone knows about the bad economy. We read about it, hear it reported on the news, on the radio — everywhere. Sometimes job seekers think this means there’s no work to be had out there. But they’re wrong —– there is, they just have to compete harder for it. They have to vanquish their competition.
Perhaps in a stronger economy, these same job seekers had no trouble landing a position. Because of that prior experience, they’ve come to feel that being hired is a given, or a right: if they show up for the interview, the job is practically guaranteed, right? Wrong. Job seekers of that mentality face a lot of disappointment if they’re expecting to automatically win a position in today’s market. And they’re kidding themselves if they think there aren’t at least a hundred equally, if not more, qualified people, seeking the same opportunity.
To win, you have to emerge as the best. The fact is, people aren’t being hired because they’re not the top of the line candidate. And when they apply for jobs for which they’re less than ideally suited, they set themselves up for rejection, and the resulting discouragement that comes with it.
I see this in my position as a headhunter on a daily basis. A company that hires me to locate the best talent possible for its industry doesn’t want someone who fulfills 70 or even 80 per cent of its needs; that company wants someone who can meet 95 per cent of its needs. That company wants someone who’s at the top of her game; someone who’s demonstrated that she’s the best there is. Someone who leaves everyone else in the dust.
Therefore, in my experience, job seekers need to remove their rose-colored glasses and start being realistic. Just because you once worked for a Fortune 500 company, doesn’t mean they still want you. Most Fortune 500 companies thrive on size; they have hundreds, if not thousands, of people in place, waiting for well-deserved promotions. In fact, encouraging employee longevity is how many of the Fortune 500s earned their place at the summit; they draw talented staff fresh from college, then keep them on board through continual promotions and increased responsibility. It simply makes better business sense to promote from inside; they use the resources already in place, rather than bring in an outsider. This strategy is not only economically sound, but also rewards and reinforces those still “waiting their turn.” Therefore, when you send a resume to a big name company, or even a company looking for someone to do something for which you’re not the best, or at least, very, very good, you’re spinning your wheels. It’s simply unrealistic. The odds are against you. You’re not in the running.
Consider this the next time you’re sending out resumes: would you hire you? If you were tasked with just one thing, which is to hire the best possible candidate for the job, would you hire yourself? Do you have the breadth of experience to do that job better than anyone else? If the answer is “yes,” then by all means, go for it! If the answer is “no,” then direct your search elsewhere. If you know in your gut that someone else can get the job done no matter what, that someone else can beat you to the punch and outperform you, you’re not effectively competing.
So, what should you do? Where should an experienced job seeker look for a position? Consider value as your goal: where can you best bring value to a company? Without a doubt, an SME, or Small to Medium Entrepreneurial business, is the route to go when you’re experienced, possibly settled in your life, and looking for a new job. Why? Because a new company, or a smaller company, needs what an experienced worker brings to the table. If the owner needs to delegate, or even comes across an unaccustomed scenario, he or she will want or need someone familiar with that situation to offer input. A small or medium company can benefit from exactly what a middle-aged or older worker may offer: experience, familiarity, knowledge, and a potential end date in sight. By the time someone who signs on with a new company at 55 is ready to retire, many small to medium businesses have sufficiently established themselves, and are ready to begin recruiting fresh talent, with the resulting innovation, drive, and risk associated with youth. That once-fledgling business can now absorb quick arrivals and sudden departures, and the experienced employee will have contributed to that stability through her experience and diligence.
I’ve talked before about the differences between “A” and “B” or “C” players. In a down market like ours, the “B’s” and “C’s” reveal themselves quickly, often by repeating their mistakes, or failing to increase their efforts when necessary. A “B” or a “C” slacks off; going on vacation during a key season, or despite a company downturn. In this economy, an “A” player concentrates his efforts accordingly. He knows where, and how to shine. He consistently makes the extra effort. The “A” player is the one beating his competition by outworking, and outperforming any contender for his job.
Some people hope to make it through troubled times by winning the lottery. Others make do with unemployment or loans from family and friends. It’s the “A” players who look around, see what they’re up against, and redirect their focus. They may work for free for a time (an opportunity internship), they may consult to show what they’re made of, but whatever they have to do, gets done. They seek, and then they find, an opportunity. They look harder, and then they work harder. And they win.
About the Author
Tom Johnston, Founder & CEO, SearchPath International.
Tom Johnston founded SearchPath International in January, 2006. Setting new industry standards for excellence and success, SearchPath debuted as a publicly held corporation in just 24 months, a nearly unimaginable feat in today’s economy.
Prior to founding SearchPath, Tom served as Director of Interim Executive Staffing for Management Recruiters International (MRI), the world’s largest search and recruitment organization. While leading MRI, Tom introduced interim staffing services, thus generating an additional $40 million dollars in revenue to the company’s bottom line in less than three years. He was also a key member of the management team that grew MRI into a full-service human resource solutions organization.
Leveraging his in-depth study, knowledge, expertise and contacts, Tom has consistently ranked at the summit of the executive staffing industry. His straight-shooting, highly rational approach to staffing and employment in a tough job market brands him as “The Voice of Reason” at a time when other job specialists insist on soft-soaping the facts. Unlike most headhunters, Tom focuses not only on his clients, but also on the needs of his candidates through honest, direct, and real skill assessment, earning him kudos from both sides of the executive’s desk.
Additionally, Tom also serves as volunteer leader of the Career Transitions Group at Fairmount Presbyterian Church, where he works to effectively aid those attempting to make the transition back to full employment.
Tom earned his BA in Management Science at St. Bonaventure University. He is the author of the ebook The Headhunters Approach to Career Transition.