As the job market continues to recover at a snail’s pace and millions of Americans struggle to overcome long-term unemployment, global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. will suspend normal business operations for two days so that its staff of professional counselors can provide free job-search advice to callers from across the country.
The firm’s 26th annual two-day national job-search call-in takes place December 27 and 28, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST. The telephone number is 312-422-5010. Job seekers can get more information about the call-in at firm’s website (www.challengergray.com) and blog (challengeratwork.wordpress.com).
“The employment situation did see some improvement in 2011. Employers in the private sector have added 1.7 million workers to their payrolls since January 1 and, last month, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since March 2009,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
“Unfortunately, the recovery has a long way to go with more than 13 million Americans out of work, another 6.6 million who have abandoned the job search but still want a job, and nearly 5.7 million who have been unemployed for six months or longer,” he added.
Challenger expects the job market to continue its slow but steady improvement in 2012. Planned job-cut announcements tracked monthly by Challenger’s firm are up slightly from 2010, but still well below recession levels. Through the end of November, employers announced 564,297 planned job cuts, compared to 497,969 over the same period in 2010. In contrast, employers announced 1,242,936 by November 2009.
While job cuts have slowed significantly, job growth remains frustratingly slow. Many job seekers have concluded that there are no opportunities and have abandoned the job search entirely. However, while it may seem as if no one is hiring, nothing could be further from the truth.
In September alone, employers hired 4,245,000 new workers, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey. There were another 3,354,000 job openings at the end of the month. The impact of this is somewhat offset by the fact that total separations (including voluntary and involuntary) totaled 4,149,000 in September.
“It is important to remember that the employment market is a fluid environment – it is constantly changing. Not every job loss is due to cost cutting. About half of the separations in September were people quitting their jobs. Another 330,000 retired, transferred to new locations, or left due to disability. Some are let go as part of layoffs, but many are let go for cause or because they simply were not a good fit for the job. In many cases, companies are seeking replacements for those who leave voluntarily as well as those who are asked to leave,” said Challenger.
“Part of a successful job search is being in the right place at the right time. We try to provide callers with some strategies that will increase the odds of them being in the best position when job openings do materialize,” said Challenger.
“It is critical to aggressively build and take advantage of one’s professional and social networks. Let everyone know that you are seeking a position. When more people know, the greater your chances of hearing about new opportunities, meeting the right people and getting a foot in the door,” he added.
“One of the most common complaints we hear from callers year-after-year is that they have sent out hundreds of resumes and responded to dozens of online and newspaper help-wanted ads and never hear back from anyone.
“Unfortunately, simply posting resumes on Internet job sites and answering classified ads rarely work, even in a good job market. These activities are even less effective in a weak job market. Under current conditions, it is critical that job seekers expand their job search through networking. Job seekers may also want to consider expanding their parameters to include a wide variety of industries, companies and cities. Do not rule out companies that are struggling, as they are looking for talented individuals who can help turn around the business,” Challenger advised.
As an outplacement firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas provides job-search training and transition counseling to individuals who have been laid off. The firm’s services are typically available only to those who receive outplacement benefits from their former employer. The two-day call-in is the only time that anyone in the general public can take advantage of Challenger’s job-search expertise.
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HOW TO FIND A JOB IN A JOBLESS RECOVERY
Advertise your job loss.
If knowing the right people helps to get your foot in the door, then it is essential that the right people know you are seeking a job. An unfortunate obstacle to job search success is pride. Too often people are embarrassed to tell anyone about their job loss, but this secrecy will not provide any job leads.
The minute you lose your job or decide you want to change jobs, start telling everyone you know that you are looking. Begin with friends, family and neighbors.
Talk to former co-workers and even casual business acquaintances you may have dealt with in your position. Share your plight with people at your house of worship. You can also join new social groups, professional associations and volunteer organizations to expand your circle of potential contacts.
Meet with new people every day (or as often as possible).
Whether it is an official interview, an informational interview or just meeting over lunch with a friend who has extensive contacts in a variety of industries, it is critical to meet face to face with people in your network frequently, if not daily.
Electronic mail has made staying in touch with contacts faster and easier, but face-to-face meeting remain the most powerful and effective way to communicate your skills, experience and qualifications as well as obtain the most useful help from your contact, in terms of job search advice, potential contacts and new opportunities.
Once you have created a list of contacts and job leads, the next step is to begin making phone calls to arrange interviews. In each call, your goal is to contact an “action person,” someone who can see you and then offer you a job.
Contact the Hiring Authority, Not HR.
Human Resources rarely makes the final hiring decision, unless the job opening is in that department. The heads of the various departments determine when new people are needed, so it is critical to get their names. If you want to work in sales, then get the name of the head of sales.
The best way to obtain a manager’s name is simply by calling the company.
(Avoid telling the switchboard the call is about a job or else face transfer to human resources).
Seek Interviews When Others Are Not.
Oftentimes, the key to obtaining an interview is having the flexibility to fit into the interviewer’s busy schedule. Since you are meeting with a manager, not human resources, chances are the person is very busy with several projects in addition to hiring someone. Let the interviewer know that you are willing to meet before or after hours, on the weekends or at a location other than the office.
Do Not Take A Holiday From Interviewing.
Many job seekers take a vacation from the job search during the holidays, figuring that no one is hiring. This is a mistake on their part, but one that can be used to the diligent job seeker’s advantage.
The fact is employers are hiring all of the time. If there is a need for workers, then it does not matter if it is the week of Christmas. And, while it is true that some of those you wish to interview with are on vacation, there are going to be many others who are working throughout the holidays.
Job seekers who keep up their interviewing schedule during the holidays, or even try to increase their activity, will likely be rewarded with several interviews.