By Therese M. Boldt
FOX 2 Career Coach
When a person finds out he has been laid off, he is faced with the task of searching for a new job, and in today’s job market, a job seeker needs to tap into every resource available to find employment. No longer can he simply look in the paper or online and find jobs that are suitable. There is an interesting phenomenon taking place in the SE Michigan job market right now. Finding a job is actually a job in and of itself. And the responsibility for landing a job lies with only one person…. the jobseeker.
But what if you are like many other people in Michigan? What if you have been sheltered from the realities of conducting a job search? What if you have never had to look for a job? What if you have enjoyed job security for a long time?
If you are like most people, you are not accustomed to this activity called job searching. After all, in the past, if you were laid off, it was probably for a short period of time, and you were most likely protected by your collective bargaining unit’s contract. Likewise, if you were a member of management who was laid off, you were probably able to land a job by moving to a competitor without too much trouble. Here in Michigan, our people are just not used to having to look for a job. We fought long and hard for many years, and our employers and our unions created what we asked for…this thing called “job security.” And when a person has “job security,” there’s really no reason to spend much time developing job-seeking skills that you won’t use.
But as the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down.” The prosperity ride to the top of the hill for many Michigan residents is over, and the downhill ride is scary and uncertain. We have become accustomed to times being good. But now that times are bad, we are not sure where to turn in our job search.
So what does the take-charge job seeker who needs to pay the bills do in such a situation? He taps into whatever resources present themselves in order to land an interview that will hopefully lead to a decent paying job. During the search, the job seeker becomes more and more distressed, (and most likely less and less objective) as he selects the resources that will help in the search. This state of vulnerability…or as some call it desperation…can cause the job seeker to partner up with at best an ineffective resource and at worst an unscrupulous one. For this reason, it’s important to consider who you can rely on during your search and what you can rely on them for.
Let’s take a look at the resources that a job seeker might tap into and what they need to know about them:
As you look for a job, you will find many positions that are represented by recruiters. Recruiters can be a great resource, but they are not the best resource for every job seeker. Recruiters know their industry; they know the nuances of their specialty, so they can offer a job seeker good insight on market trends, etc. The most common types of recruiters are: retained executive search firms who locate candidates for the upper- most level positions within an organization. They are paid up front by an employer to identify hard-to-find candidates. Next are the contingency search firms. These firms place nearly any type of individual at just about all levels of an organization within any industry. They are paid when they actually fulfill a search. Next are contract houses or temporary staffing companies. They are paid a mark-up on the wage that the person they place earns. They too place nearly any type of individual at any level in all industries, but the positions they fill have a definite duration.
In all of the instances mentioned, the employer pays the fee. One of the misconceptions of many candidates is that the recruiter is representing the person who is placed. Recruiters are paid by employers. Therefore, realize that while they are a great resource, their goal is to fulfill a search for the company that is paying them. Period. And your career development, while important, is secondary.
If you stumble across an advertisement online for an opening that requires you, the applicant, to pay a fee, proceed with caution. Applicant-paid fee arrangements are not common. So before you invest your hard earned money, make sure you know exactly what you are receiving from the recruiting firm. If the firm claims to guarantee that it will place you, make sure you understand what that guarantee really means. Check out the organization thoroughly before you agree to pay it to find you a job. How do you check it out? Ask the agent for a copy of their agreement so you can better understand the terms. If the company will not readily share this information with you, walk away. You can also ask people within your network who have some connection with the recruiting world. Good recruiters know other good recruiters, and they often know the organizations you should steer clear of.
Most people who look for a job look
on the major job boards: monster, careerbuilder, indeed, etc. These are a great source of information on positions across the country that are open. They are a great way to find out who’s hiring and what industries are hot. They are not the very best way, however, to land a job due to the stiff competition you’ll find yourself up against for any given job.
So job seekers are getting creative and tapping into other online resources. Social networks are becoming another source job seekers use to connect with potential employers. LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo, and others all seeing surges in registration numbers. Job seekers can locate people who work for companies they are targeting, and employers can look at online resumes of applicants they are considering for hire. It’s a great concept.
But online resources have their dark side. I have heard many stories of job scams. Because, as I mentioned earlier, many job seekers are feeling desperate, they are not checking out these “hiring companies” and they are getting into trouble (from picking up devastating viruses to falling victim to identity theft) by divulging too much information. So what do you need to be wary of as you network online?
The Better Business Bureau offers the following advice for staying safe on social networking sites:
• Be extremely wary of messages from friends or strangers that direct you to another Web site via a hyperlink.
• You should always make sure your computer’s operating system and antivirus and firewall software are up to date.
• Social networking sites are about sharing information, but BBB recommends that you take steps to keep important information private. While some social networking Web sites do allow for you to share phone numbers and addresses, it’s best to keep such information private.
• Be selective when choosing friends. While you might not want to be rude, BBB recommends that it’s best to decline a request for friendship if you don’t actually know the person.
For more advice on staying safe online go to www.bbb.org
BEWARE OF JOB SCAMS
As you look at postings of job opportunities on line, consider the source. Is the site managed by a reputable authority? For instance, Craigslist may be a great place to buy some used skis, but if you are expecting the Craigslist team to screen job opportunities, you are expecting too much. You’ve heard the phrase, “Let the buyer beware,” right? You, the job seeker, need to scrutinize every job opportunity carefully before forwarding information. And do not ever give your financial information to someone on line who claims to be an employer. Legitimate employers who need any financial information to fulfill a hiring requirement will ask AFTER an offer of employment has been made and accepted.
When it comes to job scams, the best advice is to let caution be your guide. And as the saying goes, “If it seems too good to be true, it’s likely too good to be true.”
So what resources can a job seeker tap into that are reliable, accessible and reasonably priced? When you become unemployed, one of your first stops is at Michigan Works. This state funded organization has resources available that are free of charge and designed to help you get back to work. Whether it is putting together a resume, assessing what your skills are, helping you decide on potential new careers, or obtaining training through the No Worker Left Behind program — be sure to check out this resource.
In today’s economy, many organizations are stepping up and offering free (or nominally priced) workshops and seminars designed to help the displaced worker. Check the placement departments and community relations departments of our local community colleges, universities and trade schools. Most offer programs to the general public, so you can take advantage of these resources without being a student or alumnus.
Many trade organizations, professional organizations, chambers of commerce, churches and community service organizations are also offering job search seminars, classes and events. Check the calendar of your local paper for these events. And go online to the websites of these groups, and see what they are offering. Now is the time to tap into these resources, and by taking advantage of these resources you are tapping into a whole new network – possibly one that will move you into your next job.
Like I said, looking for a job today is a full time job. And the resources you can tap into are many. Just be sure that you partner with those who have your best interest at heart.