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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Always Demonstrate Your Value
When Bob learned that his name was on a list of IT employees whose jobs were to be downsized—a polite term for “fired”—he knew exactly what would happen next. This was the third time in five years he had gone through the same routine. He would attend a group meeting, which would be followed by a one-on-one session with an outplacement counselor, followed by an appointment the very next day to start his job search.
Bob would again be told that terminated employees should not dwell on negative emotions. Those who start on their job searches right away find work more quickly than those who do not. The group meetings always seemed to be held during the week but never on Fridays. He would eventually understand that outplacement firms got paid based on their
“pick-up” rate—the number of people who actually start programs. Getting them to start without an intervening weekend improved the rate.
But Bob had more to think about than how outplacement firms made money.
He was worried about his own finances and how long it would be before the family had to make major adjustments in their standard of living. He
had new bills to consider, like health-care premiums and perhaps tuition for a return to school for the training required to change careers—to an area less subject to downsizing.
He also started to think about the damage this last layoff did to his reputation. Though aware that layoffs in some fields and industries are more common than in others, he wondered if employers were beginning to think that the problem was with him and that he simply couldn’t hold a job. Three jobs in five years would surely get a thumbs-down from hiring managers. They will want to know what’s wrong with me, he thought.
But now was not the time for self-analysis. First, he had to find a job a and he knew exactly what to do. He quickly updated his résumé by adding his most recent position to an already polished document. He had been taught by outplacement counselors: “Always keep your résumé up-to-date and stay in touch with your networking contacts.” Of course, most people hate to network. They are not very good at it and quit doing it the minute they find other employment. The motto of outplacement professionals Bob worked with was, “Be prepared and stay connected. And don’t forget to join as many self-help groups as you reasonably can.
They will help you tap into the hidden job market.”
Bob would do all that, but this time he would make a significant change.
He had learned about a new way to look for white-collar work: value creation. He noticed that certain people had figured out that their job instability wasn’t their fault. There was nothing wrong with them and they knew it. The skills each one brought to the job market were similar to those of others, yet these people appeared to be most in demand from employers. When he met them, he wondered, “What do they know that a don’t?”
During previous job searches, Bob approached the task in a predetermined sequential order: update the résumé; look for positions that match; and in knee-jerk reaction, apply for the jobs at hand. He now understood a however, that the requirements of similar jobs change from one organization to the next, depending on the specific problems each company is looking to solve. Now, his first order of business was to discover what those problems are and to adjust his application accordingly. Using this new approach, he landed an IT manager’s job at a comparable salary within five months.
Bob was convinced that his application got attention because of what he noticed about the position description. Besides the normal competencies every candidate is expected to have, there were key words in the job description that he could use to customize his résumé, making it specific for this job opening. The keys included the maintenance of a professional image (one of the main reasons the job was vacant) a alignment of IT goals with corporate strategy, and IT policy development. These were skills Bob had demonstrated in previous positions. This time, however, he made sure they were emphasized throughout the application process—including in his résumé, cover letter, and interviews. The key points represented areas in which the hiring organization wanted value created. The IT manager positions in other companies might emphasize different problems. For each opening, it was important that he customize his résumé to address the areas the companies considered important and never assume that the same job in one company would address the problems in another company.
You should note that none of this made Bob’s job more secure. He could get a job one month and be downsized the next. He would, of course, be disappointed but not downhearted. There was nothing wrong with him, and he knew it. He also had the added advantage of understanding value creation and the role it plays in today’s marketplace of jobs. He is now able to adjust his approach to finding a job to reflect the new realities in the market—adjustments he would not have made using the same job-search methods he had learned earlier. At one time, employers were impressed by his familiarity with different aspects of information technology. He now understood that they wanted more. He had to emphasize how his skills matched the job descriptions of potential employers. He
received a lot more interest once he focused on exactly what employers wanted, and as a result, he became a lot less anxious about instability in the white-collar job market.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich
RULE #1 Always Demonstrate Your Value
RULE #2 Your Résumé: It’s About the Value You Create
RULE #3 Use Social Media and Other Sites for Job Leads
RULE #4 Interviews: They’re About the Value You Demonstrate
RULE #5 You Get What You Negotiate, Not What You Deserve
RULE #6 Career Choice Is More Than Following Your Passion
RULE #7 The Best Way to Reenter the Job Market Is to Never Leave It
Appendix A: Helicopter Parenting Is a Good Thing
Appendix B: Financial Planning for New Career Realities
Appendix C: Applying the Job-Search Rules to Worldwide Employment
Appendix D: Example of a Functional Résumé