FREE Job Search Advice Next Week

It’s that time of year again! Challenger is hosting the 28th annual Job Seeker Call-In Days, December 26th & 27th from 9am-5pmCT. The number is 312-422-5010. Read more here:

http://www.challengergray.com/press/blog/challenger-job-seeker-call-event-free-career-advice-dec-26th-and-27th

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Challenger’s 27th Annual Job Seeker Call-In Dec. 27th & 28th

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 27th 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.   Continue reading

2011 Job Seeker Call-In Report: Callers Frustrated, Nearly Half Out of Work Over a Year

Download the report here.

While accelerated job creation failed to materialize in 2011, callers to an annual job-search advice hotline were more optimistic than a year ago, as nearly 30 percent estimated they would find a new job within three months, up from 18 percent who said the same in 2010.

However, even as the percentage of optimistic callers surged from a year ago, so did the percent of those predicting it would take more than a year to find employment.  Ten percent of the job seekers felt the job search would last more than 12 months, compared to four percent who anticipated a prolonged job search last year.

The results are based on a random sampling of 600 callers to a job-search advice helpline offered annually by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.  Over the two-day event, the firm’s professional counselors helped more than 1,000 job seekers, 77 percent of whom were unemployed.  That is down only slightly from the previous two years, when 81 percent of callers were out of work.

“There was a lot more uncertainty a year ago.  Almost half of last year’s callers had no idea how long the job search would take.  This year, callers were either certain of the job market’s improvement or certain of its continued weakness,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, referring to the increase in both optimistic and pessimistic callers.

The percentage of callers expecting the job search to last 7 to 9 months increased from six percent a year ago to 14 percent this year.  The percentage expecting a 10- to 12-month job search surged to 12 percent, after peaking at 2.4 percent in 2010.

“Overall, the majority of callers – 65 percent – felt they would find a job in six months or less.  That is a pretty realistic assessment.   In a healthy economy, a successful job search might take two to three months.  In a tight job market, such as the one we are in now, it is not unusual to see even high- quality candidates take four to six months,” said Challenger.

Among the unemployed callers, 37 percent have been out of work for one to six months.  Another 14 percent have been jobless for 7 to 12 months.  As an indication of how tight the job market remains, the remaining 50 percent of callers had been jobless for a year or more, with 60 percent of these long-time job seekers out of work for two years or longer.

“Some of those out of the workforce for two or more years were retirees or stay-at-home mothers, hoping to make a return to the labor pool.  However, many were simply job seekers who have been unable to land a job.  And, when you get to that point in the job search, it is difficult to keep the frustration and negative feelings at bay, which can harm the job search further,” said Challenger.

“Our counselors’ primary objective was to restore hope by providing some new strategies to jump-start their job search.  And there is plenty of reason for hope.  Announced layoffs outside of the government sector are at levels not seen since the late 1990s.  The private sector has steadily added jobs over the past year, albeit at too slow a pace to make a significant dent in unemployment, but there definitely is hiring in this market,” said Challenger.

In fact, the latest monthly survey of employers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that employers nationwide hired 4,040,000 new workers in October and that there were still another 3.3 million job openings at the end of the month.

“This survey has shown that employers have been hiring about four million new workers per month for several months running.  Many of these hires are to replace retirees, former workers who quit or those terminated for cause.  Whatever the reason, it is imperative that job seekers believe that they can be among the next four million people hired,” said Challenger.

“There are a lot of things people can do to improve their chances of being among those four million new hires.  The one thing they should not do is simply sit at a computer all day, responding to online help-wanted ads,” Challenger advised.

“Answering ads is just one part of the job search; and it is probably the least effective.  Classified ads, whether online or in the newspaper, represent a small fraction of the available jobs out there – perhaps as small as 20 percent.  The hidden job market, representing as much as 80 percent of the available jobs, can only be accessed through aggressive networking, cold-calling and persistence,” said Challenger.

The hidden job market is the hardest to uncover, a frustration felt by many callers, 27 percent of whom said the most difficult part of the job search is finding openings.  In the same vein, another 24 percent said the biggest challenge is getting interviews.

“A big part of a successful job search is being in the right place, at the right time.  To do this, you have to cast the widest net possible.  Your network should include friends, family, former business associates, former college professors, fellow college alumni, etc.  You basically need to broadcast to your entire universe of acquaintances that you are looking for a job,” said Challenger.

“We strongly urge job seekers to take advantage of social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.  Even if you can only add 10 people at first, those 10 people are each going to know at least 10 more people who know 10 more people.  You might just be two links away from someone who can get you in the door for an interview,” he concluded.

# # #

2011 CHALLENGER CALL-IN SURVEY RESULTS

Gender

2011

2010

2009

Female

54%

53.3%

50%

Male

46%

46.7%

50%

Are you unemployed?

2011

2010

2009

Yes

77%

80.8%

81%

No

23%

19.2%

19%

If unemployed, how long have you been out of work

2011

2010

1 – 3 Months

20.1%

19.1%

4 – 6 Months

16.6%

18.4%

7 – 9 Months

5.1%

8.1%

10 – 12 Months

8.6%

6.9%

More than a year

49.6%

47.5%

How long do you think it will take to find new position?

2011

2010

1 – 3 Months

28%

18.4%

4 – 6 Months

37%

21.1%

7 – 9 Months

14%

5.7%

10 – 12 Months

12%

2.4%

More than a year

10%

4.3%

Don’t know

0%

48.1%


Top Most Difficult Part of the Job Search*
Preparing the resume

5%

Getting interviews

24%

Networking

12%

Finding job openings

27%

Performing well in the interview

6%

Dealing with rejection

4%

Filling out applications

2%

Other

20%

Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Challenger 26th Annual Job Seeker Call-In Days December 27th and 28th

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.

# # #

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.

OBTAINING INTERVIEWS

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.

Challenger Job Seeker Call-In Days, December 27th and 28th

FREE JOB ADVICE DECEMBER 27-28

Frustrated with the job search?  You are not alone.  Whether you are employed or one of the nearly 14 million out-of-work Americans, current job-market conditions are less than ideal.  To help discouraged job seekers improve their chances of success, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas will provide free job-search advice to callers on December 27th and 28th, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Standard Time.  The phone number is 312-422-5010.  Callers will be connected to a professional counselor, who can help identify and address problems in your job search, suggest job-search strategies and provide tips on resumes, interviewing and networking.  Again, for free job-search advice, call 312-422-5010 on December 27th or 28th between 9am and 5pm Central Time.

We’ll continue to publish updates about this event as the month progresses.

2010 Call-In Survey Results

Job Seekers Frustrated, Uncertain About Job Prospects

IN SURVEY, NEARLY HALF OUT OF WORK FOR MORE THAN A YEAR

The job market made marginal improvements in 2010, but large numbers of job seekers were left out in the cold with many experiencing prolonged unemployment lasting six months or more. This fact was on display during the job-search advice call-in conducted last week by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., with nearly 40 percent of all callers reporting that they have been out of work for more than a year.

In a random sampling of 400 callers, just over 80 percent were unemployed. Of those, 47.5 percent have been seeking employment for at least 12 months. The next largest group of jobless callers was the 19 percent who have been out of work for one to three months. Eighteen percent of the unemployed callers have been looking for four to six months.

Overall, more than 1,500 job seekers took advantage of the free advice offered during the two-day public service held December 27 and 28. This was the 25th job-search advice call-in conducted by Challenger.

The 80 percent of jobless callers was about the same level as a year ago. In 2008, 76 percent of callers were unemployed, while in 2007, only 55 percent of callers were out of work at the time of the call-in.

Despite prolonged unemployment, callers were slightly more optimistic than a year ago. Nearly one in five callers (18.4 percent) believed they would find a job in the next one to three months. Meanwhile, 21 percent felt they were with six months of finding employment. A year ago, only 12 percent thought they would find a job in three months, while another 12 percent thought a job could be found in four to six months.

Furthermore, only four percent of callers thought it would take another year or longer to find employment, down from nearly 16 percent of last year’s callers who thought it would take at least a year to find work.

While there was slightly more optimism than a year ago, the general feeling among callers was uncertainty. Nearly half (48 percent) did not know how much longer the job search would take, about the same as in 2009. Among those out of work for more than a year, the uncertainty was even more widespread, with nearly 60 percent saying they were not sure how long it would take to find employment.

“Obviously, there was a lot of frustration in callers’ voices this year. Not only were most of them out of work, many have been out of work for so long that they are losing confidence and hope. Our coaches’ primary objective was to restore some of that hope by providing some new strategies they could utilize to jump-start their job search,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Under the frustration, there was sense of optimism, with many feeling that 2011 would be a stronger year for the job market. And, that indeed should prove to be the case. Planned job cuts have slowed to the lowest levels we have seen since 2000. Private sector employment has experienced 11 consecutive months of net employment growth. And, companies are sitting on mountains of cash saved through two years of dramatic cost-cutting initiatives,” said Challenger.

“We expect private-sector hiring to continue to ramp up in 2011. However, this will not necessarily lead to an easier job search. In fact, it could be even more competitive. As hiring accelerates, two things will happen. First, people who abandoned their job search last year out of frustration will re-enter the labor pool as prospects improve. Second, people who are currently employed will start seeking greener pastures,” said Challenger.

“Additionally, while private sector employers are expected to increase hiring in 2011, government agencies at all levels – local, state and federal – are still feeling the impact of the recession and could be instituting massive job cuts to address significant budget deficits,” said Challenger.

Despite these challenges, Challenger said job seekers should not despair. At the moment, employers are adding just enough workers to replace people who retire, quit or let go for reasons other than cost-cutting. However, this number is not insignificant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers hired an average of 4.3 million workers each month between May and October.

“There are a lot of things people can do to improve their chances of being among those four million new hires. The one thing they should not do is simply sit at a computer all day, responding to online job ads,” Challenger advised.

“Answering ads is just one part of the job search; and it is probably the least effective. Classified ads, whether online or in the newspaper, represent a small fraction of the available jobs out there – perhaps as small as 20 percent. The hidden job market, representing as much as 80 percent of the available jobs, can only be accessed through aggressive networking, cold-calling and persistence,” said Challenger.

The hidden job market is the hardest to uncover, a frustration felt by many callers, 36 percent of whom said the most difficult part of the job search is finding openings. In the same vein, another 31 percent said the biggest challenge is getting interviews.

“A big part of a successful job search is being in the right place, at the right time. To do this, you have to cast the widest net possible. Your network should include friends, family, former business associates, former college professors, fellow college alumni, etc. You basically need to broadcast to your entire universe of acquaintances that you are looking for a job,” said Challenger.

“We strongly urge job seekers to take advantage of social networking sites like Facebook or professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn. Even if you can only add 10 people at first, those 10 people are each going to know at least 10 more people who know 10 more people. You might just be two links away from someone who can get you in the door for an interview,” he concluded.