Tuesday, September 23, 2008

21st Century Executive Job Search

“Come early if you want a seat” is the current warning at New York City outplacement offices.

As the Human Resources leader at one of the big banks told me the other day, the steady flow of layoffs has outplacement firms bursting at the seams and had her wondering out loud, how providing housing and clerical support would help her exiting colleagues find jobs.

“This is the 21st century, isn’t it?” she asked rhetorically.

“I mean,” she went on, “they’re surrounded by an ever-increasing number of other people out of work, which I’m sure is not too good for their morale, and whatever networking benefit they might get from that is probably short-circuited by an unwillingness of many to share hot job prospects.”

And she’s right. Along with administrative help, the resume writing, researching and interviewing workshops that most of the large outplacement firms provide, are often 20th century job-finding support services in a 21st century world.

It’s all about rifle shots

How should the savvy job finder conduct a search in today’s market and what techniques allow one exec to continually vie for positions while others complain about the paucity of opportunities?

Well, here’s what our HR professional looks for when she sends departing colleagues to outplacement firms: “First and foremost,” she said, “I want to make sure that my people are receiving plenty of personal attention. The old tired approaches of answering ads, chasing recruiters and calling everybody they know just aren’t enough.”

She was right again. Now, more than ever, the key to finding another job is to craft a creative and highly-individualized campaign that targets, with laser-like accuracy, those companies that really need your skills.

It’s just like fishing

As any good weekend fisherman knows, there are lots of ways to catch fish.

Many people, when they come across a lake, a boat and a fishing rod, decide to troll for the fish. They dangle the line over the side and ride their boat back and forth across the lake in the hope that a fish will come up and take the bait. When there’s lots of fish in the lake, that technique can work well.

But when the big ones are few and far between, it’s often an approach that leads to coming home empty.

Job hunting is the same. When jobs are plentiful, knowing the basics is enough. The recruiters are flush with opportunities, advertised positions are abundant and firms are in a growth mode, eager to bring on new talent.

However, in these times ... having a seat, a phone and clerical support is about as effective as trolling for fish in a sparsely-filled lake.

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