Thursday, November 1, 2001

Tips on landing the perfect job during a tight job market


By Dan Simmons

Remember when your phone would ring, and a recruiter (perhaps me) would be calling to tell you about this fantastic job with great pay and, dare I even say the words, stock options? Oh, what glorious times. Can you remember back that far? My how a year has flown. Tempus Fugit.

I have good news, bad news, and a real solid tip.

The bad news

If you're hoping the job market will change, keep a good thought, but don't hold your breath. It will take months for this job market to turn around. If you're employed, get all the training in other technologies and certifications you can while you or your employer can afford it. If you're on contract, start networking now for your next assignment and expect your bill rate to be 5-25% less in most markets. If you're unemployed, look to short-term contracts with previous employers and spend as much time as possible learning about Websphere. The combination of Notes and Websphere skills will become valuable when the market opens up. If you can't or don't want to get Websphere training, learn a similar technology.

The good news

While we may never see the Y2K talent rush, the market will eventually return to a sellers market. As the working population grows older, we'll reach a point where there are more professionals retiring than entering the job market. This will increase demand, and it's expected to begin in two to three years. The demographics are on the side of labor.

The tip

In times of tight job markets, it's tempting to apply for every position for which you're even remotely qualified in hopes that maybe the employer is desperate enough to hire you. Perhaps they'll even train you on the technology you don't have experience with. I'll let you in on a secret; they're not desperate! They're either throwing your resume away or saving it until Jim retires in four years. Maybe then they'll call you. Companies are in the driver's seat (and I believe many like it).

There are a few things to remember:

  • Corporate America is currently very picky about their hires, and most companies are only considering candidates with at least 90% of the credentials listed on the job requirement. If you don't have 90% of the desired experience and credentials, you're probably wasting your time.
  • Companies will be reluctant to relocate prospective employees, so look local, then regional.
  • Many firms today have online systems to process resumes. Put yourself in these databases; they are the first place HR pros and recruiters look when filling positions.

Instead of spending your time sending resumes all over creation, spend your time finding the right job (to be defined in a moment) and making it impossible for the person who receives your resume not to interview you.