Friday, June 6, 2008

Executive Layoffs: More Likely

Grim news just keeps piling on.

Today the jobless rate jumped to 5.5% - the biggest one-month rise since 1986.

Yesterday it was the airline sector – with Continental announcing 3,000 layoffs or 7% of its workforce. And that figure comes on the heels of last week’s announcements of significant layoffs by United and American.

So we can now add airlines to a growing list that includes financial services, housing, automotive, telecom, retail and several other industries rapidly shedding jobs.

The cumulative effect of these cuts is becoming chilling with U.S. companies planning 103,522 layoffs in May compared to 90,015 in April. And while the final number of job losses in the current downturn is unknown ... what is known is that it will go higher.

So what can we learn about job campaigning in these difficult times? And who best to ask than an executive in the midst of it?

Last week I was introduced to a senior human resources exec who has been searching for a position since last September. This is a fellow with impeccable credentials who has headed up the HR functions of a major restaurant chain, a leading consumer products company and a marquee ad agency.

“Looking back,” I asked him, “is there anything you would have done differently in your job campaign?”

He thought for a second and said, “Well, in addition to the things everybody talks about from recruiters to networks, there are three things I’m doing now that I wish I had done earlier.”

This is what he learned …

1- Explore project consulting or interim activities. “In talking to people and companies about their needs, I heard about problems that I could have easily fixed. But they weren’t presented as full time jobs and I never thought about suggesting that I tackle them in a consulting role. That was a mistake. It would have provided a good platform, the money wouldn’t hurt and, coincidentally, that’s exactly what I’m doing for a company now.”

2- Explore out-of-area and even out-of-country opportunities. “I started this job search saying I wouldn’t move. We have one son in high school. I didn’t want to uproot him and passed on exploring a couple of jobs out west and then one in Europe where I think I would have been a good fit. While I’m still not certain I would have accepted any of them, not pursuing them was an error. Now I’m looking at everything, anywhere.”

3- Explore opportunities other than my prime choice. “Early on I had a shot at a great job, but it was a divisional position and I really wanted the top HR slot. Today, I’m more flexible and not only looking for a #1 or #2 job, but have broken out my functional capabilities as well, and am selectively exploring running a Compensation & Benefits function, which has always been my sweet spot.”

The take away ... in a tight market, expand your scope.


Dave Opton said...

Almost everyone I have ever talked to starts a search by drawing a mental 50 mile circle at the bottom of their driveway.

Certainly a natural way to feel - moving is a hassle to say the least.

We tell our members all the time to look for opportunities where you really believe you would be a good fit and don't worry about the geography. Nobody has asked you to move yet.

Just because something looks like it might entail relocation doesn't mean it really will, particularly in the digital age.

The goal is to get into a conversation and the rest will take care of itself.

Anonymous said...

I've moved 3 times for a job. Gotta go where the work is.

Anonymous said...

nerve wracking at my company now. many are waiting for the other shoe to drop. please keep the advice coming!

sleepless in stamford



Executive Tribune* is an electronic publication of SIMON GROUP LTD.
80 Business Park Drive, Armonk New York 10504.
Tel: 914.273.2500

Executive Tribune* is a Registered Trademark.

Copyright 2008, 2009 Executive Tribune. All rights reserved.

All original content is the sole and exclusive property of the author(s)
and is prohibited from being reproduced or used, in part or whole and
in any manner or for any purpose, without the express written
permission of the author(s).