Maximizing Work Power in 2013 – Part II


The Year of the Job

I believe in the power of positive thinking, that an optimistic outlook can affect outcomes in life. As we emerge into the light and out of the recovery, employment is up according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and economists predict a rise in employment close to 3 percent during the second half of 2013. Optimistically speaking, the future for job-seekers looks pretty good. Whether you’re actively looking or just like to be prepared, follow these tips from experienced recruiters and be ready when your next job opportunity knocks.

Stay Informed. It’s important to stay in tune with your market. Even if no career moves are imminent, there’s no harm in exploring what’s out there. Definitely get connected with a trusted recruiter. The relationship is confidential and they have a wealth of information on the hiring climate, sought-after qualifications, market compensation and so much more.

J. Katelyn Kye, managing director with the In-House Practice Group of the Chicago office of Major, Lindsey & Africa, a global legal search firm, values her relationships with job candidates. She says encouragingly, “I’m always willing to be a sounding board and a resource.” With 10 years of recruiting experience, Ms. Kye understands and appreciates the cycle of things. She says, “I’m always interested in building long-term relationships [with job candidates] because a lot of them will end up in positions where they’re making hiring decisions. It would be short-sighted not to take time to talk to them now to develop [those] relationships for the future.”

In addition to expert tips on interviewing and ‘Intel’ on compensation packages, recruiters keep you in the loop on significant changes and trends in your particular market that could give you the edge over the competition. Gina P. Barge, a Chicago-based freelance executive recruiter who has been in the field for eight years, advises “If a recruiter calls you, always take the call or you won’t know how your position may be evolving. For example, if you’re trying to be successful in marketing, it’s helpful to know what the new requirements are for similar roles, because they change. Right now, digital is big so if you’re in marketing and not developing digital skills, you’re doing yourself a disservice.”

Understanding the recruiter-candidate relationship is the key. Recruiters work for the prospective employers, not the candidates, but they still can offer valuable insight on where a candidate might stand in relation to the market.

Stay Engaged. Chicago is a networking hotbed. No matter what employment sector, there are various organizations and groups throughout Chicagoland that host seminars and mixers, many no- or low-fee events. Always put your best foot forward at networking events and cocktail parties. Realize that anyone in the room could be a potential referral source. At the risk of stating the obvious, Ms. Kye warns, “Don’t bad mouth your current company.” Instead, talk about what you want out of your work or career looking forward.

Stay Connected. According to Ms. Kye, if you’re looking for a new job, you have to be on job posting websites to get educated on client specifications and desired qualifications for the position you want in the future. Look for areas where you have or can get more experience to make yourself attractive to employers. She also says LinkedIn can be a huge resource and considers it ‘an icebreaker.’ In today’s digital society of networking, there’s no reason to be shy about asking your connections to link you with job contacts. She says “Everyone wants to be helpful,” and also encourages people to appreciate what others do for them and to pay it forward.

Stay Polished. Competition is too steep not to have the job-seeking basics down pat. Ms. Barge offers these reminders. Your résumé needs to be complete and contain key words that can be picked up in a search. She says don’t bother with a ‘functional’ résumé that focuses on skills and experience rather than on a chronological work history. Always list every job even if it’s only for a brief period because your credibility is undermined when you leave a gap.

In interviews or networking situations, answer questions directly and don’t over-talk or go on tangents. Ms. Barge tells candidates to rehearse talking points and answers to expected questions. “You don’t have long to make an impression,” she says, “so you need to be able to clearly communicate all your points.”

Last but not least, make sure your personal appearance is as professional as possible. Don’t wear anything that will distract from your message, like statement jewelry or too much perfume. And even in today’s ‘casual Friday’-style workforce, Ms. Barge says err on the side of being more professional and always suit up unless they tell you otherwise.

Ready or not job market, here we come! With positive thoughts!

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author and should not be considered or interpreted as legal advice, nor is it intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. You should not act upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel.

Lauren Blair

About Lauren Blair

Lauren Blair is the founder and owner of Lauren Blair Consulting, an employment law and business consulting firm that counsels a diverse range of clients on compliance, training, policy and a variety of workplace strategies and solutions to improve performance, protect business interests and manage risk.