I am not sure anyone really understands what’s happening with the economy or the labor market. I have a PhD in business and 35 years of experience in human resources and much of what’s happening does not make much sense to me.
According the May unemployment report form the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is hovering around 6.1%. There were hopes that it would have dropped more, and lots of talking-heads are suggesting why it hasn’t. But, here is what bothers me. In February 2020, before the pandemic, the unemployment rate was 3.5% and there were 152.5 million people who had jobs (this number excludes military and farm workers). That means that the total workforce (working plus unemployed) was approximately 158.1 million workers.
The May, 2021 numbers (6.1% unemployed and 144.3 million working), indicate that the total workforce was 153.7 million workers. Where did the 4.4 million workers go? If unemployment should drop to a pre-pandemic level of 3.5%, there will still be over a 4 million workers who appeared to have disappeared.
Rest assured, most of them are still with us. The overall population is still growing. The reality is they quit working and stopped looking for work. Many are Baby Boomers who just decided it was time to retire. Some are parents who decided to stay home with their children. Others simply just gave up.
But this is a blog about job search, not geeking out on the economy, so what does this mean to you? It means, there are jobs. In fact, there are likely to be labor shortages in some sectors. As “unprecedented” as these times are, the economy is rebounding, companies are hiring, and there are jobs. They may not be exactly what you were looking for, but those jobs may still lead to fulfilling and successful careers.
Bottom line: take hope, keep pressing ahead, work your network, tell your story, and you will be successful. If you need help with your jobs search, try this https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.
I understand, really. You lost your job. You have bills to pay. You’re ready to go back to work. The economy is still wonky. What you want to know is “how long will it take to find a new job.” You better be sitting down, because you may not like my answer.
Long ago I learned a simple rule-of-thumb. You should be prepared for your job search to take one month for every $10k of annual salary you want to earn. A lot of things have changed since I first heard that, so maybe now it is one month per $15k, but that math is harder to do. Be prepared for a search for a $30,000 annual salary job to take 3 months and an $80,000 job could take 8 months. I’ve been fired/laid off/RIFed/what-have-you six times. The fastest I’ve ever found a job was about 4 weeks and the longest was 13 months.
Your search may not take that long. Some people are in the right place at the right time. If you already have a strong and well-maintained network, you may be able to speed up the process. But, for the 1-month rule to be a rule, it has to be an average. That means that for many of you it will take longer. Unfortunately, recent experience by several of my friends, says the rule-of-thumb is still be pretty accurate.
What this means is that you need to be patient, persistent, prepared. If you think you are at risk for losing your job, evaluate your assets. If you have no other source of income and will rely on unemployment and savings, figure out how long they will last. If you don’t have enough money for the rule-of-thumb, you may want to change your search process. You may need to settle for a lower paying job just to get some income flowing. You might have to lower your standards, or look in another geographic area. You just need to be prepared.
If, like me, you have a loving spouse with a good job and you can get by, then be patient and work the process. Know that it probably won’t happen overnight, but it won’t happen on its own either. You have to do the work, build the network, and get the system to work for you.
Patience may be a virtue, but when it comes to finding a new job, impatience often is just as important. If you are struggling, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
Tomorrow is Easter. Spring is here, the pandemic appears to be waning, and there is an atmosphere of hope in the air that we haven’t felt for a long time. Hopefully, you will be able to spend some time with family and friends this weekend, and maybe you’ll get to hunt for Easter eggs.
In my family there is a tradition of hiding plastic eggs in and around the house, supposedly left by the Easter Bunny, and then allowing the children to hunt for those eggs. Inside the eggs might be candy, money, small toys, or maybe stickers. For me, the best eggs had chocolate in them, next came those with money (pennies and nickels), and then toys, and way at the bottom of the list were stickers. I never was much of a sticker kind of kid.
Networking can sometimes feel like an Easter egg hunt. You race around, looking in every corner, under every branch, and under every rock, hoping to find an egg (a new contact). And then you find someone who is willing to talk with you and you arrange a meeting. In your mind, you hope that when you open this contact they will pour out a mountain of chocolate eggs (new contacts). It will be glorious! But, when you finally crack open that egg, you find a wrinkled SpongeBob sticker.
Networking is a process. Every contact you meet will not hold the key to your future. But somebody does. If you work hard enough, there is a high likelihood that someone that you meet will lead you to your next job. Somebody will introduce you to somebody, who will introduce you to somebody, who has been looking for a person just like you. So, if you happen to open a whole carton of eggs filled with stickers, don’t stop. Your chocolate egg is still out there. Keep hunting.
I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing Easter Weekend. If you are struggling with your job search, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
Maybe you’ve been looking for a job for a while, and you are getting frustrated? I can understand that, but I need to stress networking really is the key. I have worked for 14 different organizations in my life. Three were before I graduated from college and the rest make up my professional career. I have applied for at least one-hundred jobs, online or via mail, and I’ve had lots of interviews; but I have never been hired because I responded to a job posting.
I got my first job at age 14 by asking about a help-wanted sign in the window of a fast-food restaurant. One time I found a job through a professional recruiter. Every other job I’ve had, I found through networking. Each time, someone I knew suggested that I talk with someone they knew, and those introductions led to an interview, and to a job offer.
It’s also important to understand that I don’t quit jobs very often. Seven of the organizations I have worked for asked me to leave due to position eliminations, business closings, or changes in ownership. Once, I was recruited away, and once, I left a part-time job for a full-time job. And twice, when I couldn’t find a job, I became a one-man consulting company. So, I needed to learn to network.
You should also know that some of my transitions were quick, and some were not. The first time I got “fired” was my first job out of college. The bank I worked for was about to be sold and I was told on the Monday before Thanksgiving that my department was being eliminated and my job would end after Christmas. The good news was that I got to be a stay-at-home dad with my infant daughter for a month. And, I networked into a better job before my severance ran out. Twice, I was able to identify a new job before the current job ended, so I easily moved from one to the next. One time I looked for three months before deciding to give consulting a try full time. One time it took me 13 months to land a new job.
So, I get it. Job search can be frustrating and exhausting. You may find a job quickly, or your search could drag on, and on. And, while you need to work with search firms and to apply for jobs you see advertised, networking is the key. Through networking you can learn more, reach more people, and find jobs that are never advertised (six of my jobs were never posted).
From my experiences I wrote a book. If you are struggling, this might help. https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/
Last month I was fortunate to attend an event sponsored by the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) and the Center for Transitional Leadership (CTL). The topic was Hiring from the Talent Pool of US Veterans. The primary focus of this event was on assisting veterans who are transitioning from active duty to civilian life. I received many good ideas that I can use as an employer to hire more veterans, but (if you are a veteran) I also learned a number of tips I can share with you to help you find that next job.
Veterans need to find someone who can help them translate their military career into business-speak. The military is famous for its acronyms and jargon that most civilians do not understand. Even words like platoon or battalion need to include manpower equivalents. A great number of military activities and training have a direct business correlation, but it is the responsibly of the veteran to provide that translation, not to assume that the civilian understands.
I learned that soldiers, and especially officers, need to learn to listen. The military trains them to be decisive and work within a very structured command and control system. That does not always translate well to businesses. Soldiers were also encouraged to be very introspective about what their skills, strengths, and weakness are. Attributes that are strengths in the military may not carry the same value in the business world.
An important consideration is that veterans often leave the military without a large network of non-military contacts. They don’t know people in business and therefore it is harder to find a job. LinkedIn was cited as a critical resource. What many veterans don’t know is that they have an enormous informal network of former military that have already made the transition. Working with LinkedIn and with a few known contacts (possibly through AUSA or CTL) soldiers who are about to be discharged can begin an active networking process and build substantial relationships before the leave the military.
Finally, veterans, like everyone else, need to be persistent. Two of the speakers at this event shared that they went 1-for-150 and 1-for-90 respectively on job applications. For the first man, a Colonel, he had to apply for 150 jobs before he was hired.
The secrets here are universal truths, regardless of your military background:
- Successful job seekers need to make sure they present their background in fashion that whomever they are talking with can relate that background to their need,
- You need to listen – as my Mom said, that’s why God gave you two ears but only one mouth,
- You must network and tap into the hidden job market, and finally,
- You must be both persistent and patient.
Now, let’s get busy and find you that next job.
If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to, network or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.
One huge key to job search success is persistence. Here are two real stories.
One day I was at work, doing normal stuff and my boss, the company president, came in at sat down. He said, “Roger, I’m afraid I have to use one of things you’ve taught me. We’ve decided to eliminate your position and today will be your last day of work.” I was blindsided – I had absolutely no idea that was coming. He went on to tell me about a meager severance package and then I was done. That was in early September. The following May a friend told me about a new company that was just starting – maybe they’d need an HR person. I networked into the President and met him. He felt I would be a good person for that job, but they needed to complete an acquisition first – he’d be in touch. I followed up with him about every 30 days while I continued to look for other opportunities. Finally, in October – 13 months after I’d been fired – I started with this new company. That turned out to be a great job for me.
Here’ another – in 1999 the company I was working for was struggling. The family that had owned the business for 3 generations was trying to turn in around and had brought in a turn-around specialist. Then one day the President gathered the senior team and announced he’d sold the company to our cross-town rival. The new owners would decide if they needed us or not. (In the end, they decided not.) But, during that transition I had an idea. I would take my experiences of finding jobs and write a book. My plan at the time was to be leading edge and publish the book along with a CD-ROM of resources. I wrote that book and then put it in a drawer because by then I had a new job and no time to work on it. Ten years later, I took the manuscript out and brought it up to date. Then I started shopping it to publishers. After three years and over 20 rejections, I found Lighthouse Point Press. There were some other issues and delays, but in August, 2014, I’m Fired?!? was published. My 15-year-old baby was finally born.
My message is that I know being out of work sucks. And I know it is hard to wait and to keep looking and looking. I know what it feels like to be rejected, to have your resume ignored, to be a finalist but not get the job, and to have to come back and try to explain to your kids why you don’t have a job. But I also know that good things come to those who wait. Not wait by sitting on the couch, but wait by working to find those good things. Persistence pays off. Tenacity is an excellent character trait.
Make the plan, work the plan, and keep the faith. The right job for you is out there. If you work for it, you’ll find it. Now, let’s go find that job!
For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.