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

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As Deadline Approaches, Job Seekers Should Investigate Tax Breaks

With the April 17 tax deadline about two weeks away, millions of taxpayers will be scrambling to file on time and, as a result, could overlook the numerous tax credits and deductions available to workers, freelancers and job seekers, advises employment authority John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

The tax breaks for job seekers could be especially beneficial, considering that the number of jobless Americans averaged about 13.7 million throughout 2011.  That figure does not include an average of 6.4 million Americans who, in any given month, had given up actively looking for a job but still wanted one. Continue reading

Most Workers Should Avoid Goldman-Esque Resignation

Yesterday, Greg Smith, Goldman Sachs executive director and head of equities derivatives in Europe, the Middle East, and Africavery publically resigned from his position with an opinion piece to the New York Times detailing the firm’s loss of moral fiber. Smith alleged management was more focused on earning profits and fleecing customers than actually helping clients make sound financial decisions, with leaders’ attitudes influencing new analysts. He even went as far as calling out current CEO Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn for losing “the firm’s culture on their watch.” “Smith’s approach, while commendable for tackling a very real issue of profits versus people, should not serve as a model for the average worker on how to leave his or her position,” warned John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “The number of people quitting their jobs is on the rise, with nearly 1.9 million workers doing so in January.  While many might be emboldened by Mr. Smith’s public outing of his former employer to exit in a similar fashion, it is important to remember that most workers do not have the benefit of Smith’s former high-level position and salary. For most workers, it is best to exit quietly and not burn any bridges. New employers may need to contact your former boss for references, and loose talk may be the difference between a new job and continued unemployment.  Even a rant about a former employer on Facebook can become an obstacle to new employment.” What are best practices for leaving an employer? How should workers handle issues of corporate culture with management? How might managers communicate more effectively with their employees to foster an ethical and respectful culture?

Job Seeker Relocation Falls To Near Record Lows

After rising to its highest level in nearly two years during the first half of 2011, the percentage of job seekers relocating for new positions dropped to a near record low to finish out the year.  The latest data provides further evidence that one of the biggest obstacles to economic recovery could be the lack of mobility among the nation’s unemployed.

Over the last two quarters of 2011, an average of just 7.5 percent of job seekers finding employment relocated for their new positions.  That is down nearly two points from an average relocation rate of 9.4 percent in the first two quarters of the year.  It was slightly lower than the same period in 2010, when 7.7 percent of job seekers relocated for new positions.

The relocation data released by global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. is based on a quarterly survey of approximately 3,000 job seekers, many of whom are managers and executives, from a wide range of industries and occupations nationwide.

“It appeared that relocation was beginning to bounce back after plunging in the wake of the housing market collapse and the deep recession that followed.  However, the latest numbers indicate that picking up stakes remains a last resort for the majority of job seekers, many of whom are unwilling to take a loss on the sale of a home for a position that may or may not last,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The percentage of job seekers relocating plunged in the wake of the housing collapse.  Since the fourth quarter of 2009, the quarterly relocation rate has averaged just 7.9 percent.  In contrast, an average of 15.7 percent of job seekers relocated for new positions each quarter in the pre-recession period from 2005 through 2007.  Even during the onset and throughout most of the recession, from 2008 through the third quarter of 2009, the relocation rate averaged 13.2 percent.

Read the full report here.

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.

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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.

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.

Myths of the Job Hunt

Lately, there have been a growing number of stories about the double-dip recession in light of bleak economic reports on factory orders and consumer confidence.

For the job seeker all of this negative news begins to mount until it feels that the search for employment is entirely hopeless. Job seekers may have acquaintances telling them “XYZ company just laid off 500 people, I would not apply there.” Or, ‟You will never find a job in the telecommunications industry, it is the weakest sector in the economy.”

Pretty soon so many people are fostering these myths that they become easy to believe.

Job seeking is about the individual and being liked. Job seeking is not about how a specific industry or company is or is not performing. It does not even matter if the company is hiring. If you present the right attributes and are well liked by the interviewer, the company will create a position for you.

With the job market in its current state, there is undoubtedly a flood of myths being espoused by various parties. Following are perhaps some of the most commonly believed myths:

A company announcing job cuts or in bankruptcy should be avoided since they are not hiring.

Companies in turmoil are not only hiring but many are willing to pay a good salary to top-tier candidates.
Contrary to what most job seekers may believe, the company that is having difficulties, even announcing sizable layoffs, has a more urgent need for qualified people than many economically fit companies.
Not only do most other job seekers avoid these situations, thus reducing the competition, but such companies may be willing to pay a premium to those who can prove they have what it takes to revive the business.
Disregard the myth that adverse reports about a company mean that there are no job possibilities at that company. The fact is, someone has to run the business, and large-scale layoffs will frequently involve realignments and restructurings which can create new job opportunities.
What constitutes a company in turmoil?
Look for layoff announcements, firing of the president, multiple senior level job changes, closing of facilities, rapid decline of the stock price, cutting of dividends, and negative broadcast or printed stories.

Companies today are not interested in hiring candidates over 55 years old.

Older workers are highly regarded for several reasons. For one, employers see them as valuable assets in the struggling economy because their experience and skills make them better able to do the work of two and sometimes three younger, less seasoned workers.
More importantly, companies are looking ahead — not just to a recovery sometime this year or next, but 5 to 10 years down the road when a labor force depleted by retirements will not be able to fill the jobs our economy is projected to create. As a result, it will become more and more important for companies to find ways to keep older workers from retiring.
According to the Bureau of Labor, the projected number of jobs to be filled (167.8 million) will outnumber available workers (157.7 million) by 10 million over the next decade.

If you have spent your entire career in one industry, it will be impossible to find a position in another industry.

In reality, quite the opposite is true. Companies are most concerned with a candidate’s core skills and how they can be applied in their industry. An employer may, in fact, be seeking people from outside its industry in order to gain new perspective and new ways to approach old problems.
We encourage job seekers to consider many different industries because casting the widest net possible will greatly improve one’s chance of success. Job seekers should realize that they can take their base skills, whether it is in accounting, information technology, project management or marketing, and apply them to any number of industries. There is no reason a marketing manager for a manufacturer of brake parts cannot shift his or her skills to become a marketing manager for an agricultural company or a hospital, two areas which are hiring right now.

Unless a company is advertising open positions in the newspaper or on the Internet, then do not bother contacting anyone there about a job.

A very small percentage of jobs are actually found through newspaper or Internet ads because a very small percentage of the available jobs are listed there.
Job seekers should be focused on ways to create opportunities by actually getting out and meeting people and visiting prospective employers. It is a system that results in a lot more face-to-face rejection, but in the end a job is usually found much faster.
One technique that has proven successful is simply showing up at the office of a prospective employer, without an appointment, and waiting to see the manager you want to work for (do not go to the human resource department unless seeking a position in that area).
Even if the company is not officially hiring, several positive scenarios could result: there is an opening the company was going to fill internally, but will now consider you as a candidate; there are no openings, but the manager liked you so much that he or she will create a position for you’ or the manager has no jobs to offer, but knows other companies that are hiring and will recommend you for consideration.

Follow up calls are annoying; if the company is interested they will call you.

Follow up is essential in the job search process.
The manager with whom you interviewed has at least a dozen other responsibilities on his or her plate. A follow up call and/or letter should not only remind that person that you spoke but also what separates you from other candidates.
Follow up also demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm about working for that employer.
Such a small percentage of people actually follow up these days, that the candidates who do really distinguish themselves from the rest of the pool.

Because of the economy, it is likely that you will have to accept a salary lower than what you earned in your previous position.

If an employer goes to the expense, time and effort to find a qualified candidate, it wants that person to stay. A candidate may accept a salary lower than his or her previous salary, but chances are that individual will continue job searching after being hired and leave as soon as a better offer comes along.
That being said, in a competitive job market, the burden of proving that you are worth the higher salary is much greater. The face-to-face interview, even in the Internet Age, is still the key to job search success and the ability to garner a higher salary. Candidates must be able to provide supportable evidence of their achievements for other employers and explain how their experience will be valuable to the new situation.
In this economy, companies are looking for individuals who can save money and/or make more money. So, if candidates can point to specific ideas, plans, or actions they developed which contributed to significant cost-savings for their former employer, that is going to be well-received by any employer.