By Arnie Fertig
Each fall, the Career Thought Leaders Consortium sponsors the Global Careers Brainstorming Day, when about a dozen groups of career professionals gather to discuss what's new and what's next in the world of career management, counseling, coaching and job hunting. The same structured sessions take place simultaneously in locations throughout the U.S., abroad and online. At the Boston gathering, there were about a dozen academic-based and government-funded career center professionals, independent career counselors, résumé writers and coaches.
A white paper that coalesces the insights from all the groups will be published in the first quarter of 2015. Until then, here are six main areas of insight drawn from the Boston session:
1. LinkedIn is essential, but it has limits. The group was unanimous that LinkedIn is key to almost all job searches. It allows a job seeker to present a personalized snapshot, in longer form than in a résumé.
Nonetheless, it remains intimidating to many, and some industries (such as financial services) are limited in their ability to share information.
"Your social media profile has to be not only about what you do, but how you do it. Stories can back up your claims," says Lynn Levy, a career consultant at REA Partners in Transition.
Still, many people who are currently working, but seeking to make a move, are unnecessarily afraid to make necessary changes and updates to their LinkedIn profiles. They fear that their boss or co-workers will note the changes and begin to suspect disloyalty.
Plus, Lily Chryssis, who supports MBA students at Babson College, observes that many of her international student clients from China and Latin America encounter significant language barriers. As Jane McHale, a leading personal brand coach, puts it: "LinkedIn needs a translation service."
Several group members think that down the line, there will be a backlash against LinkedIn's predominance in the job market and something else will emerge to provide competition.
2. It's increasingly important to post work samples online in order to be found and evaluated. If you are a "creative," such as a web designer, graphic artist, architect, photographer or performer, it pays to have your own website and use it to show portfolios of your work. Likewise, if you are a computer coder, it's important to use sites like Github to post examples of your work.
3. Employers are seeking relationships with students years ahead of hiring them. Many employers are drawing students into their orbit years before they're ready to hire them, whether through their employment portals on their websites, LinkedIn relationships or internship programs.
Rather than relying on a single interview, employers look at a person's growth over years. They identify potential top performers early on and build relationships with those students, so that they will become the employer of choice when the student is ready to enter into the employment pool.
4. Supply and demand still rule. When unemployment was high and quality job seekers were plentiful, employers had the luxury of defining very narrow targets that a candidate had to hit in order to be hired. Now that the economy is recovering and the rates of unemployment have decreased, companies need to loosen their requirements and become more reasonable. As this trend continues, employers will be more likely to seriously consider career changers with the appropriate skills than they have been in recent years.
5. Companies and employees are readjusting their mutual expectations. In the past, a person might expect that the vast majority of his (back then it was only "his") career would be at a single company, and he would look forward to a fully funded retirement. Smart employers and employees recognize that this is no longer the case and adapt to it from both sides. A feeling of self-fulfillment in a meaningful job has a much greater priority for younger generations. They typically don't expect to remain at a company more than three to five years.
Smart companies are interested in where their employees are going to end up and brand themselves that way. They will provide ever more opportunities for employees to experiment at different roles within the company and to gain experience that will enable them to move forward with their longer-term career objectives. While this is not yet the norm for most companies, the group of experts in Boston senses that a trend toward this corporate attitude will emerge in coming years.
6. The global employment landscape is changing. Louise Kursmark, one of the CTL leaders and organizers of Global Careers Brainstorming Day suggests that we need to change our vocabulary when talking about work. She argues that we shouldn't even use the term "permanent job" and instead talk about a "full-time job.".
If you are in the job-search mode today, here are a few key takeaways:
Make sure your LinkedIn profile is always up to date, and use it to tell your own unique story in an interesting and compelling fashion.
Understand that the nature of work is changing, and the mutual obligations of employers and employees are no longer what they used to be.
If you are interested in changing careers, make sure you acquire the skills and experience that will be relevant to what you want to do next. Opportunities to jump from one role to another will likely increase as the economy continues to improve.
Forget about trying to get a job or work in a company long-term. Understand that your résumé a decade from now will likely include multiple career moves. Be prepared to make those moves in a purposeful, thoughtful progression.
Arnie Fertig, MPA, is passionate about helping his Jobhuntercoach clients advance their careers by transforming frantic "I'll apply to anything" searches into focused hunts for "great fit" opportunities. He brings to each client the extensive knowledge he gained when working in HR staffing and managing his boutique recruiting firm.