Job Search In The New Normal: Three Perspectives; Originally Published February 13, 2016
My activity during the last two weeks has included three networking meetings with prospective candidates. Two of the meetings were face-to-face at Starbucks, and the third was over the phone. Their experience and individual situations ran the gamut. The first candidate I met, Matt, is a referral from a solid networking connection which I have known for many years. Matt had gone to school with my friend and had worked together earlier in his career. He was in town for a few days prior to leaving on a boys skiing weekend. Matt is an established Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) professional employed in a good job with a major company. He and his wife want to get back to the Atlanta area to be closer to their extended family. His objective is to find a good job first and then move. I found Matt to be very affable and professional. Little surprise as his background included a private school education and Ivy League college degree. Additionally, he had earned an MBA from a prestigious, top-tier University. Matt is a very polished guy who knows how to communicate. His intention was to establish a relationship with me and to explore some options. Although a preliminary discussion, I enjoyed our visit and will work to help him achieve his goal. Clearly, Matt is well grounded for a job search in the “new normal.”
My second meeting was not as positive. John has had a difficult time finding a new job. Also, a native of the Atlanta, he has been out of work for eighteen months. John has lived out of state for the past 16 years working in a small company. He moved back to Atlanta to be close to family after the failure of a business venture. After earning an Ivy League Degree, he worked as a manager for established restaurant brands, later transitioning into the small company sector. In his most recent situation, he was in charge of administration for a small company which included the responsibilities of a CFO, a CIO, and Director of Construction. John was not comfortable during our meeting. He was visibly nervous and a bit awkward. We discussed options he has considered including consulting and project work. His references were very positive. However, his experience is not resonating with prospective employers.
Mark was my third networking encounter; this meeting was via telephone. Mark was referred to me by a CEO contact who had to terminate his employment as part of a company restructure. Mark is a middle manager who has worked his way up the ladder to middle management without a college degree. He has not had to look for a job for a very long time as he has been recruited from one job to the next by people who know him. Mark is well spoken, and his resume is solid. Now unemployed, he really does not know how to look for a job in the new normal. I suspect his network needs to be rebuilt as well. We scheduled a phone call to trade information, but he made little effort to prepare for that call. He did not review my background by visiting my website or checking out my LinkedIn profile. As a result, we spent too much time on fundamental issues without learning how I could be helpful to him. After our conversation, I made one referral on his behalf. I need to follow up with Mark to more fully understand his needs and aspirations.
There are some interesting similarities between these gentlemen. They are all about the same age and have enjoyed success in their chosen fields. Their circumstances are very different, however. Matt is in the best position as he begins the process to understand his options. John is in a difficult position as the time between situations is taking a toll on his psyche. He must reboot his search. Mark will be fine. He will need to rebuild his network, but his skills and experience are highly marketable. I suspect that he has a suitable severance package. He can ramp up his job search quickly and will likely be reconnected by summer.
The one thing they have in common is that they are learning to adapt to job search in the new normal. Their ultimate destinations will take them down different paths, but each will need to engage in the same activities. Matt and Dave will have more options to consider than Mark whose background is exclusive to restaurant operations. Nevertheless, each must assemble and nurture an effective network, their team, to identify appropriate opportunities. They must craft a viable personal positioning strategy to evaluate opportunities presented. They must be able to convince hiring managers and recruiters that their experience and skills match the job requirements and that they are a cultural fit for the enterprise. And, when employed again, they must get off to an effective start by taking ownership of the onboarding process.
Of the three, which represents the situation you would aspire to? Matt’s of course! He is proactively directing his career, building from a position of strength. He is working on a plan to make a career move before circumstances force the need. More than ever before, one must be vigilant in the management of their career. Nurturing an effective network is the starting point.
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NEW CENTURY DYNAMICS EXECUTIVE SEARCH
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Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal