Thursday, November 13, 2008

Job Finding Secrets: Part I

Want an edge over your job-hunting colleagues in this incredibly competitive job market?   Try burying your resume.

Now don’t get me wrong.   A crisply written resume, geared to the needs of the reader, is an important tool in a job hunter’s arsenal and absolutely necessary when contacting head-hunters, responding to ads or following up on leads that have asked for one.

But sometimes, sending out a resume is more of a hindrance than a help.  Especially, when you are unable to network into a company you’ve targeted and are forced to approach them cold.

Stand out from the crowd

With over 500,000 jobs lost in the last two months alone, including many executive positions, it’s important to find a way to separate yourself from the herd.  And with the majority of job hunters flooding the market with resumes, doing something a little out of the ordinary, can make all the difference in the world.

Years of career coaching has taught me that a well written note will almost always generate more attention than one accompanied by a resume.  It doesn’t scream “job hunter” and lends itself to follow-up conversation.

So, how do you craft a note that brings results?

Understand your objective

Start by understanding what the desired outcome of contacting someone is.  It is not to get a job.  That takes ongoing discussions, interviews and the ability to convince others that you have the appropriate skills and experiences to add value to their efforts.

The initial objective is simply to find a way to get the attention of a decision maker who is positioned to offer you a job or help you in your search.  You want to open a dialogue, get them to take your call and hopefully wind up across the desk from them in meaningful conversation.

Resumes often say too much and allow others to make go/no-go decisions about candidates.  A note that starts out talking about a company’s needs, relates it to a brief summary of your background and closes by indicating you’ll follow-up is the perfect definition of “less is more.”

Strike while the iron is hot

Most career coaches know that a sizeable proportion of jobs are filled long before a company ever considers advertising them.  They call it the “Hidden Job Market.”

That’s not all that surprising.  Jobs are created in one of two ways.  Either there’s a need that has to be addressed or a leader is dissatisfied with the performance of someone in their department and starts thinking about making a change.

Whatever the reason, it typically takes months between the time an issue is identified and a job gets advertised.  Meanwhile, the need or level of dissatisfaction keeps growing.

And it’s during that time of indecision, before a position is ever posted, that a prospective candidate who has opened a dialogue with a company often has their best shot. 

So, try leaving your resume in the drawer, bang out a note and see if you can get the conversation started.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A New Paradigm For Employee Engagement: Part II

These times demand a new model for achieving engagement among executives.

While companies know that ignoring employee engagement is a mistake – many say they can no longer afford the costs traditionally associated with achieving it.

With the credit crisis, falling market caps and a drop in earnings, C-suite execs have grasped their cost-cutting hatchets and are taking mighty swings.

In their sights: – people and programs.

And, as pressure mounts to reign in costs, more and more companies are cutting back, postponing or totally eliminating those programs designed to dial up engagement.

The old employee engagement paradigm

The old paradigm of Employee Engagement was based on factors that included money, boss & colleague relationships, training, pride in company, career issues and other variables.

Costs associated with them, especially those related to comp and training were steep. And in this market, dollars alone will not drive engagement.

Survey after survey shows that well over 50 percent of the reasons employees become engaged, has to do with an organization’s ability to provide career help and support. Of all of the factors associated with engagement, it’s the career issues that drive them.

As an added plus, career management assistance costs the least to provide, is easiest to deliver and gives the best bang for the buck.

The new employee engagement paradigm

Companies can no longer offer everything they once did…it costs too much…. and in today’s environment, most executives have lowered their expectations.

What really gets their attention, the one thing executives consistently say they want, is help with their careers. Help an executive gain greater knowledge about and control over their career and you’ll have an engaged employee. I’ve seen it over and over again.

Need more proof that engagement's important? According to the Conference Board, highly engaged employees outperform their disengaged counterparts by anywhere from 20 to 28 percent. That’s a very big payback

Building a new model based on providing individual career management is a cost effective and proven way to grow engagement among those in leadership ranks. It’s the right approach for today’s world.

Reallocate expenses

Most companies provide some level of outplacement to exiting executives. Those costs could go a long way towards supporting a full scale employee engagement program based on a new paradigm that focuses on career management.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to provide the career advancement tools, techniques and materials employees clamor for, long before they are laid off?

Why wait to fire someone to give them what they want?
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