In America, people are generally very busy—especially higher-ups—and many of them are good at what they’re doing. You might expect they’d continue being good at it even after losing their jobs—that is, in terms of finding the next assignment. But as a career coach who deals with them daily, I find that my expectations are by far not met. Many of the job seekers I coach remind me of the overused expression “deer in the headlights.” They seem to be caught off guard and can’t or don’t know how to take the next step. This despite the fact that while working, they were making ongoing major decisions all the time. It is just amazing!
Many of them react (mistakenly) to their intuition. They’re not taking into consideration, though, that the business world has changed significantly and that the competition for openings is unprecedented. Many start out with old-style résumés, and it takes them weeks if not months to realize that such résumés no longer work to get them hired the way they did in the past. Today, only outstanding résumés are generating employers’ reactions. The business connections today’s job seekers used to feel good about have fizzled out because those job seekers are no longer decision makers, and the authority and power they once wielded have disappeared with the loss of their jobs.
The American job market is changing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in America, 120 million employees work for 8 million employers. Lots of jobs, right? Well, 60% of all of those employers have fewer than 10 employees each. But new jobs are being created all the time: 32% are new ones, and 68% are replacement jobs for employees who died, moved, got promoted, or retired. Approximately 40% of job openings are filled by selecting from internal candidates. On top of all that, some jobs just plain fade away, while others are being newly created. Technological innovations change job demands; and skills that were very useful in the past have migrated to different sets of skills, yet people are not prepared for the situation.
For example, in the future there will be great demand for management analysts and medical secretaries, while file clerk and payroll clerk jobs will diminish in demand. In the fields of science and engineering, we will see decreased demand for mechanical and electrical engineers, while the need for network system administrators and network system analysts will grow rapidly. All of those changes will require retooling not only of employees’ and job seekers’ skills but also in the education and selection of job candidates.
Most people I talk to indicate they’re looking for jobs at large companies. The companies with 500 or more employees employ only 19% of the workforce. Better job-landing chances lie with the 26% of companies that employ 100 to 499 employees. And the best chances are at the 55% with fewer than 100 employees.
It’s clear that in today’s job market, finding a suitable job is extremely challenging. The guidance I provide for my clients is based on several principles.
- Create an outstanding résumé.
- Develop a doable and achievable job search plan.
- Network ad infinitum, since 60 to 80% of job placements result from connections.
- Practice answering interview questions with someone—preferably a professional career coach.
- Learn the tools of social media, and use them to your advantage.
- Be dedicated and relentless about the job search. There are very few miracles happening nowadays in this regard.
When all is said and done, most people will find jobs. When, where, and in what capacities still remain, unfortunately, unanswered.
by Alex Freund