Barbara Moses says the underlying principles of the job search haven't really changed much in the past decade, but there is something that’s different — the need for job hunters to step up their game amid stiffer competition and increased demands from employers.
“If you needed to be pretty good two years ago or a year ago when everyone was talking about talent wars now you need to be stellar,” says Moses, president of BBM Human Resource Consultants Inc.
“Today, employers are expecting people to hit the ground running. It’s not enough that you’ve done work that is similar to this in the past. They want to know that you can do the same job practically with your eyes closed and that you can do it at 150 per cent.”
In keeping with the ever-evolving landscape of the working world, Moses has completed an updated and revised edition of “What Next?” (DK Publishing), which offers strategies to achieve work satisfaction, career success and to help land a job.
Recent job numbers from Statistics Canada showed signs Canada’s economy was coming out of recession with 27,100 jobs created in August. However, the bigger picture wasn’t entirely a rosy one. Most of the new net jobs were part-time positions, 3,500 full-time jobs were lost and the unemployment rate rose to 8.7 per cent.
In the midst of a tough economy and with both new graduates and laid-off workers among those in the thick of the job hunt, Moses says it’s as critical as ever for individuals to put their networking skills to use. That includes mining and expanding contacts in their network, such as family, friends, former colleagues, and even service providers, like doctors and hairdressers, in addition to using social media.
She recalls one woman who sent out an email with the subject header “Please be my eyes and ears.” In the body of the message, she talked about how she had lost her job and described the type of work she was looking for, briefly outlining her skills, abilities and experience. From the 100 emails she sent out, she received 60 responses.
“The reason why it worked was, number 1, she made it easy for those people to forward the message on,” Moses says. “She made it easy to absorb the message and she also made them want to help her.”
Moses says it’s important job-seekers start with a “ruthless self-assessment” where they clearly articulate to employers who they are, what they’re good at and the skills they have to offer.
Then comes one of the principles Moses discusses in What Next? — the need for individuals to think like a recruiter.
“List the skills, abilities and experiences that you would be looking for,” she says. “Now go back to your self-assessment and reframe everything you've done that spells out exactly how you can hit the ground running, how your skills are a perfect match.”