What Now? The Silver Lining of a Dark Cloud.
In October of 1987 a tsunami of financial doom began in Hong Kong and swept across all the global markets. It became known in the US as, "Black Monday". Black Monday became the largest one day percentage decline in stock market history and it would take a few years for investors and the economy to recover. If my career had instant replay, I wouldn't have raised my hand in a 1986 meeting to volunteer to open a new Pacific Northwest territory in the obscure discipline of financial wholesaling. Using a financial term, I was LIFO, Last-In-First-Out. I found myself as unneeded overhead and looking for a job in a down market.
Welcome to 2008 and the death of the second "War for Talent". As in any war, the competition to win leads to rapid innovation which is adopted, modified and mass produced in the private sector. Some famous wartime innovations that are common to us today are; Plasma, Nylon, Antibiotics...heck, even the microwave oven.
The war for talent in the dot.com years and most recently post 2001 has led to numerous innovations to provide corporate recruiters with the tools to attack a marketplace. These innovations, in a way, resembled an open-source platform that offers a multisided supply of candidates. The recruiter is able to gather information from partners, customers, employees and competitors. Monster is a passive open source of information, part of a hiring supply chain openly shared (maybe not willingly) among competitors, bringing together a network of partners, customers and potential employees.
From the recruiters viewpoint, the one sitting at their computer that waits for candidates to apply to their jobs, the silver lining of the dark cloud is he or she now has 50 candidates to choose from rather than leveraging all the available innovations to compete for one candidate. From the candidate’s perspective, rather than having 50 recruiters contacting them, they have to find a way to get in front of 50 recruiters.
How do you reverse the same tools recruiters use to their advantage? In 1987 faxes were cutting edge, resumes on colored paper were considered a way to stand out from the crowd and an active rolodex was gold.
• Network(s). Recruiters that utilized LinkedIn or Plaxo to find you during the war on talent can be contacted directly in reverse. Better yet, it’s likely the hiring manager for the role that is "perfect" for you is also listed in these business networking sites.
• Network. Recruiters were actively participating in Local and Special Interest Groups aimed at your area of expertise. Attend. While you may not see a recruiter, you may meet a hiring manager. Do NOT discount these meetings as just people looking for a job, while that may be true, the person you meet may know of a job that is not a fit for them but is a fit for you.
• Network (seeing a trend here?). Social networks such as Facebook and MySpace have recruiting pages dedicated to hiring companies, AND many of the people with profiles on these social sites list their employer, giving you another way to penetrate a company you wish to work with.
• Penetrate. Recruiters use all these tools to their advantage in finding the ideal candidates that are deeply buried in companies. Candidates should too. Finding a recruiter on LinkedIn is pretty easy, so is finding hiring managers. Pick-up the phone, call and leave a concise voicemail and follow-up with a resume after 24 hours.
• Be Flexible. We are still experiencing the mortgage crisis, all the people that may have lost a home still need a place to live and the rental market has heated up. It is the same story for hiring managers; projects that still need to be completed may be using 'rental' employees. Keep your options open and consider being an hourly contractor but do NOT be greedy. If your salary is $100k, the simple way to compute an hourly rate is; (base salary divided by two) BUT do not expect that exact figure, be flexible and accept less if necessary.
• Brand. Your resume is who you are. A sloppy resume, with little information, misspellings, poor grammar and no format indicates what kind of employee you might be. Your brand is selling your product, which is your value. Recruiters do not necessarily care what you did in 1987, the role they need to fill will relate directly to what you did in the last few jobs. I personally do not like functional resumes because they do not tell me what you have done recently, so I will invest more time in reviewing historical resumes. Besides having a professional resume, do not worry if your biography runs longer than two pages, I'd rather know what you've done than be limited to a couple of bullet points per job. Google ‘resumes’ in your discipline, you may find templates and language that help you craft your value.
Terry Coonan is a successful recruiting and consulting industry producer, manager and executive with over 16 years of experience in roles that include Director, Manager and Technical Recruiter. He is currently leading the recruiting organization for Covestic; a Kirkland, WA based consulting company.