SECURE THE JOB YOU WANT & EXCEL
Even when times are tough, it is still possible to identify fields and industries that are likely to experience an increase in the demand for new employees.
Some of the best opportunities for building a career and advancing in management over the next five to ten years are likely to exist in the following areas:
In addition to the above, there are other areas that will experience above-average future growth as a result of continuing globalization, changing demographics, an increasing environmental consciousness and rising world-wide living standards. You have to select the area that is right for you and where you want to live and work. In doing so, cast your net as wide as possible. Some fields out-of-favor today can become hot tomorrow. And, vice versa.
Most new jobs are definitely going to favor those with a college degree or post-secondary technical education over those who have only graduated from high school. Similarly, jobs in the private sector are going to be more plentiful than those in the public sector as governments everywhere face increasing pressure to cut back. Also, there will be much more growth in jobs at export-driven companies than at most of those dependent on domestic markets.
Many business magazines (such as Profit in Canada, Forbes and Fortune) annually publish an article on the 100 fastest growing companies in their country or region. A number of business publications (such as the Financial Post in Canada, the London Sunday Times and Fortune) also annually have an article on the best 100 employers to work for. Do a search for “the 100 fastest growing companies” and “the 100 best employers” to obtain ideas on where you should look for a job.
Most of the organizations listed in these surveys are entrepreneurial and tend to be part of the New Economy. It is always easier to get a job at a rapidly growing organization where talent is in short supply than at a stagnant or declining Old Economy company that may face having layoffs sooner than later.
The Internet has become the driving force behind the greatest explosion of new businesses in history. For the best current explanation of how this is happening with Web 2.0, read the book What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis. In his book, Jarvis refers to a leading venture capitalist Fred Wilson who remarks on seeing an increasing number of young people with new ideas for “building and launching authentic web services that fill a real need in the market”. This wave of young entrepreneurship fueled by the Internet is occurring throughout the world.
If you are a woman, look for female-friendly organizations that are known for promoting women to senior positions and having strong policies against discrimination and sexual harassment. Usually, you can find an indication of this on an organization’s Web site. For example, check on the number of senior female executives as well as how many women are on the organization’s board of directors.
Alternatively, select an industry that has few women in it, providing you have lots of self-confidence and are prepared to battle traditional male resistance. If you are passionate about what you are doing, there are usually lots of opportunities for women to stand out, even in male-dominated work environments. As examples, Catherine McLeod-Seltzer and Eira Thomas have become highly successful in the mining industry and jointly run Stornoway Diamond Corporation, one of Canada’s largest public diamond exploration companies.
The most female-friendly companies are likely to be found in consumer goods, cosmetics, finance, retailing, publishing and communications, which all have a large number of female customers. Women probably have a better chance of advancement working in the operations, sales and marketing areas of such companies where there usually are far fewer senior positions already held by females than in the staff side.
Do not get hung up if you are uncertain about exactly what you want to do. Similarly, do not let yourself get paralyzed over a fear of taking the wrong job. It’s not a crime to discover you are in the wrong job. Hopefully you will have learned something from the experience and have your eyes opened to other better opportunities. There are always going to be risks in taking any job. Do not be afraid to take some chances.
Lastly, do not set your sights unrealistically too high in terms of the position you are looking for. If you identify an organization that is a great fit for what you want to do, your objective should be to get a starting job there so that you can learn more and have a chance to demonstrate your abilities. So what if you even have to start as a receptionist. You will be highly visible for any new job openings.
When you have narrowed your potential career choices down to one or more fields, you now need to work hard to learn as much about them as you can, using every possible available source. This includes Internet searches and sites, local libraries, trade publications, your college career center and, most important, talking to as many people as you can who have experience in that field. An excellent example of an Internet site that contains a wide range of useful information for job seekers is www.Glassdoor.com.
Take advantage of career fairs to gain a better understanding of the job market. When you do so, take your résumé to give to employers that are of special interest to you. Do your homework beforehand on these organizations so you can make a good impression. Ask their representatives how you can follow up on specific job opportunities with them.
It is a filtering process, going from the “big picture” down to specific local opportunities. First, you want to gain a broad understanding of the general characteristics of the overall profession, business or industry you are most interested in. Is it a field with a multitude of local, national and international participants or is it dominated by a handful of large multinationals? How large is this field in terms of total revenues and employees worldwide and in your own geographical region, country and local area.
Over the past three to five years, has this been a growing, healthy and prosperous field? What appear to be the most significant factors and challenges currently affecting the viability of this profession, business or industry? What stage of maturity is it at — early days, established steady operations or at maturity when the larger organizations start taking over the smaller ones in order to continue growing? What impact are the Internet, government regulations and globalization having on this field? How does the future look in terms of the demand for its products or services and from the standpoint of competitive pressures.
Second, you need to identify which are the principal organizations or companies operating in your field of interest on a global, regional, national and local basis. Are any of the leaders and major competitors active in your area? What is their reputation in terms of being a progressive employer and the manner in which they conduct themselves? Which ones stand out as possibly being the best employer for you.
Once you have targeted the specific organizations or companies of most interest, search out their Web sites and get as much information from them as you can. Print out the names of all of the officers and directors at each of these organizations. Also, Google variations of the organization’s name to learn more than what is available on its Web site.
Next, ask your friends, teachers, professors, school alumni, relatives, neighbors and parents for the names of anyone you should contact to learn more about these organizations and companies. In most cases, this will be your most valuable source of insight about where someone with your background and interests will find the best employer. Ask such contacts for their advice and views of the industry, its outlook and the participants in it. Show each of them the lists of the officers and directors and ask whether they know any of these individuals, as sometimes they may be unaware that an acquaintance of theirs is associated with that organization. Ask them, if they were in your position, where would they look for a job, and who would be the best person to contact there in this regard.
If one of your contacts knows someone at that organization, request that your contact phone that person to describe your interest in finding a job there and to ask for his or her assistance. Suggest that your contact offer to e-mail your résumé to that person so that it can be passed on to the appropriate individual in the organization. Often, your contact will hear information from this person that is helpful to you in obtaining a job there.
A caution about using your contacts to obtain information — never waste a good call to a valuable source too early in your learning process. Save your best sources for your really strategic questions. And do not waste anyone’s time by asking questions when you can easily find the answers elsewhere.
Increasingly, major corporations and other large organizations are resorting to online recruiting to fill the majority of their posted job openings other than at the senior management level. By posting available positions on their Web sites, these employers are hoping to attract the largest number of qualified applicants from not just the local area but also regionally and even internationally.
Companies engaging in online recruiting ask applicants to e-mail their résumés and often conduct a prescreening process online to reduce the number of unqualified applicants. Afterwards, the employer may send out job applications to those individuals who appear to possess the necessary qualifications. The extent to which this practice is being adopted varies considerably. Within five years, online recruiting is probably going to be used by most large and medium-sized employers around the world.
LinkedIn.com has become the dominant social network site for both job recruiters and individuals who want an online presence that will boost their career. With more than 365 million registered members (far fewer active ones) in 200 countries, LinkedIn enables you to find and connect with people you know and the people they know to obtain all sorts of useful information. While most of its members are corporate professionals and individuals who already have “white collar” jobs, I recommend that job seekers become LinkedIn members and post their profiles there to highlight their accomplishments, skills, work background, education, community volunteer experience and personal interests in a manner that makes the best possible impression to potential employers. It is also helpful to include relevant keywords in your profile that recruiters might use in conducting their searches through LinkedIn. Although it is not mandatory, I also recommend that you post a head-and-shoulders personal photo with your profile there, preferably one with a plain background that does not include any friends or unrelated props.
LinkedIn is continuously working to improve its functionality for job seekers. LinkedIn members can utilize its Groups feature that acts as a message board to enable you to connect with other members regarding shared interests and new developments. Members can also use the Answers feature to direct questions to their LinkedIn network on a regular basis, thereby keeping in touch with their contacts. These and other features can be found in the upper tool bar on LinkedIn’s home page. To gain the maximum benefit from LinkedIn, it is necessary to keep your profile there updated on an ongoing basis.
If you are seeking to be hired by a specific company, look up those members of LinkedIn who work there to see if you know any of them. If you do, ask them if they can provide you with an endorsement and introduction to the hiring officer. This is a good way to boost your chances of being seriously considered for the job. Also, whenever you are going to be interviewed by someone, look up that person’s profile on LinkedIn to help you prepare for the interview and possibly identify some common interests.
It is important always to keep a wall between the type of social and personal information that you post on your social media sites such as Facebook and the type of professional and work-related information that you post on professional social media sites such as LinkedIn. Clean up your postings on all your social media sites and keep your privacy settings high. Many prospective employers are likely to check out your first category of social media sites, such as Facebook, before making a final hiring decision. In addition, use some discretion in soliciting and accepting invitations on LinkedIn and your other social media sites. Do not connect with someone unless you know that person in some manner.
From time to time, it is a good idea to conduct a Web search of your own name to learn what prospective employers will find when they perform a Web search on you. If you discover something derogatory when you do so, try to correct that situation, failing which advise prospective employers that this is erroneous or refers to someone other than yourself.
The larger Internet search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, are also making it easy for job seekers to locate sites that provide a range of career advice and actual job postings. For links to sites for general information, type in: job search. For specific sites offering job openings, type in: job search — [the name of the country or city that interests you]. Once you are on a job-search Web site, enter keywords and search criteria to obtain only those listings that may be of interest to you.
Some of the largest sites for job seekers to check are www.monster.com, www.careerbuilder.com, www.Indeed.com and www.simplyhired.com. These latter two sites operate as aggregators, pulling together job postings from other employment Web sites, company sites and newspapers. In Canada, also check on www.workopolis.com. Two other large job recruitment sites in the U.K. are www.jobsite.com and www.totaljobs.com. In China, the largest job recruitment sites are www.ChinaHR.com, which is partly owned by Monster Worldwide Inc., and www.51job.com. For classified job listings in the U.S., U.K., Canada, India and Ireland, go to www.Oodle.com.
After you have decided on a particular field of interest, look up its industry and professional associations for job postings and links to other sources of information. Some associations allow students to become members which gives them an advantage in finding jobs. Access to the Web sites of a number of associations is restricted to their members.
Appendix 1. Personal Worksheet Sample
Appendix 2. Résumé Sample
Appendix 3. Covering Letter Sample
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