Career Development and Job Hunting During the Recovery; a Cautionary Note.


Thank you to my colleague, Peter Wright, who wrote the following blog.

Unemployment is down, employment is up, GDP is rising and the key economic ingredient known as ‘confidence’ is out there in the marketplace. After several years of belt-tightening and poor prospects for job hunters indicators for the immediate future look positive, but as the resident cynic I must sound a note of caution. Today I will talk about one of the worst enemies of the job-hunter: complacency.

If you are aware of some of the reporting regarding the various figures used to gauge the economy you might know some interesting caveats to the positivity: GDP is still lower than it was before the Great Recession struck in the UK, which should mean plenty of room for growth but the traditional GDP profile of a recovery does not seem to have held true in recent decades. Recessions are traditionally followed by a period of supra-normal growth which brings economies back to the pre-recession trend, this has not happened now and is several years late. You may also have noticed that employment and unemployment statistics have been marred by reports that large numbers (hundreds of thousands in fact) of people doing unpaid work now appear as ‘employed’ despite the fact that they receive no wages, trends into risky self-employment and the widespread use of zero-hours contracts all add mud to already murky water – all these things contribute to the fact that despite record levels of employment our GDP is still behind where it was some years ago, the UK labour force is not yet back to full productivity.

Maintain a Quality-Beats-Quantity approach to your jobsearch:

How does this impact you as someone seeking a new position and career development? Well for a start labour market churn has not yet reached pre-recession levels, meaning that there is still a dearth of opportunity for applicants and an abundance of choice for recruiters – it is still therefore going to be a tough and very competitive market for you and may well be so for another year or two. If you are going to look for a new role then you must still market yourself in the most effective way, which means that you must maintain your concentration on making high-quality approaches to carefully selected roles in the same manner now as you may have done two or three years ago.

Remember that making a strong application is not only key to getting the role it also helps you to get a good offer, letting yourself down by making lazy applications is going to impact considerably on your lifetime earnings – the very thing you are paying your Career Coach to maximise. Do not throw money away, heed the advice your coach gives you it is one of the best investments you will ever make.

Never assume you’ve got the job until you are doing it:

Reporting of the positive economic news is tempered by notes of caution, the recovery is a fragile thing – and so is a job offer or a ‘done deal’ – which in my experience frequently fall through.

One of the most valuable nuggets of advice I can give as a Career Coach is to stick to your application routine when you are going through an interview or selection process. A high proportion of my clients report that they are ‘always successful at interview’ and assume that once they are face to face the job is theirs. This probably indicates a certain amount of cognitive bias – they can’t all be right about this on general principle – but more problematically this leads to them ceasing to make fresh applications on the expectation or anticipation that they have achieved the desired result already.

One client of mine spent three months going through the selection process for a job with a subsidiary of a major international corporation. Informal meetings, telephone interview, four face to face interviews with various directors and executive officers, a competency based grilling from the head of HR. Having a terrific record himself and my coaching, support and tactical advice at each stage he flew through the process with flying colours. But he had applied online, not had a personal introduction and as I am sure you know companies hate having to take a risk on an unknown face. After three months he lost a job he was, frankly, perfect for to a newer applicant who was already known to the corporation.

Since he had not continued to make applications, despite advice during this time, those three months were simply a waste and a financial drain.

Avoid complacency, maintain your focus on all stages of the process irrespective of how positive individual applications look.

Happy job-hunting,

Peter Wright.

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