Executive Job Market Trends & Analysis (aka “Will I Stay or Will I Go?”)

Posted on March 20, 2012. Filed under: Job Market Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

by Stephen Van Vreede (@ITtechExec)

Good News for Some Technical Sectors

ExecuNet recently released some excerpts from their upcoming Job Market Intelligence Report for 2012. With a 14% increase in job placements (assignments) expected throughout 2012, the top 3 growth industries or sectors are projected to be 1) Healthcare, 2) Technology, and 3) Manufacturing. Of course, the number of technology-related positions in the healthcare and manufacturing segments has grown tremendously. So, for IT and technical candidates, this is a good sign for the upcoming year (check out some more 2012 figures).

6 Months for a Job Search Is the Norm

For executive-level candidates, slightly more than half (52%) thought about a job change over the past 12 months. For those candidates that are conducting a job search now or have taken part in a job search over the past year, the expectation was that it would take nearly 6 months to complete the job search but that it would yield a salary or total compensation package increase of about 13%. The 6-month time frame is consistent with the results over the past several years, so there weren’t any apparent “breakthroughs” during 2011, which confirms what most job seekers have believed about the job market in 2011.

So Will You Stay or Will You Go?

Finally, 70% of executives anticipated low or relatively low turnover for the remainder of this year. This statistic cuts two ways. First, the most common view is that people view this figure as a favorable indication that the economy and the job market (and unemployment) have stabilized. So, we shouldn’t expect to see major layoffs or large-scale downsizing initiatives across the board–although some are going to occur regardless of how high or low the market goes. Of course, one can point to the fact that most organizations have gone through their exercise of “right-sizing” to flesh out the dead weight, get lean, cut costs, etc. As a result, there is little need to do more cutting in 2012 unless the economy takes a major turn for the worse.
The second view–which still allows for the opinion above to be true–is that the expectation for little or low turnover is proof of just how tenuous the economy and job market really are. In our experience as resume writers and in the corporate world as hiring directors, when the economy is strong, people are more assertive in the job search. They hire resume writers to help them prepare the best possible document so that they reach for new heights and stretch for the dream job. When things are not looking strong, human nature is to hunker down, be cautious, play it safe, and weather the storm. People are more satisfied trying to hold on to what they have. In other words, for their own security, they decide to stay in their current job, thus reducing employment turnover expectations.

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Unemployment Part 2: Comments and Responses

Posted on November 15, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

OK. Since I posted this blog last week, I have had a few comments. I have provided a few samples below:

-“Uh, yeah. Like unemployment is ‘such’ a gravy train. Wow, you can really live large on $500 a month.”

-“It’s easy to tell me I should just get off unemployment when you’ve got a job!”

-“Times are really tough. If Congress extends unemployment, that will be a good thing for all the people out of a job right now.”

I like the first comment, as it touches on a slew of topics in a few succinct statements. Let’s start with the payout. Unemployment benefits pay can vary widely by state, because unemployment benefit laws are made at the state level, as well as by the amount earned, the number of hours worked, and the amount of time of ongoing employment. The emergency unemployment acts that have passed through Congress only mandate the extension and federal funding of those benefits.

If we take someone in Boston who earned $150K and was laid off after more than 10 consecutive years on the job, they would be eligible for $600 per week in unemployment pay. While an annualized pay of $31,200 doesn’t compare with $150K, most would agree that it would help to pay for a car loan and reasonable mortgage. However, the comment is accurate in the sense that no one will be “living large” off this type of pay.

The Intention of Unemployment
This brings us to the next topic, which is the purpose for having unemployment benefits. The intention was to provide a safety net for employees who lost a job through “no fault of their own,” meaning they weren’t fired for theft or things like that. So anyone that was laid off, downsized, rightsized, outsourced, or a dozen other euphemisms could get a portion of their pay for up to 26 weeks while they looked for a new job. However, certain requirements had to be met. In most cases, those collecting unemployment were required to report to the unemployment office and prove that they were, indeed, actually conducting a job search. They needed to show how many resumes they sent out, to whom, and which companies they interviewed with.

Some readers may recall, way back when, if someone lost their job and couldn’t quickly find a new one, they would take a job or jobs in retail, doing “menial” work, or a position involving physical labor. Basically, they would do whatever was necessary to pay the bills and put food on the table. Those jobs are still out there. I see companies all over advertising for them every day.

Actions Versus Intentions
So, I would like to respond to the individual that wrote the first comment. Before I do, I am going to assume that he or she is currently not employed and is accepting unemployment benefits that pay in the vicinity of $500 per month. Without knowing anything else about your situation, I would ask you to consider your actions. Your intentions may be very good. For example, you intend to get a job and contribute productively. However, your actions may belie that intention.

I say that by simple observation. Consider that $500 per month breaks down to about $115 per week (each month has 4.333 weeks on average). That’s just $2.88 per hour based on a 40-hour “work” week. If it is so awful to have no, or very limited, requirements to receiving the $2.88 per hour, why not take a position at Wal-Mart, working in a warehouse, or in customer service. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, with some states mandating as high as $8.55 per hour as the minimum. That’s nearly 3 times more than what unemployment benefits will pay you! Am I missing something here?

So your intentions may be good, but the reality is that you are earning less than you could be and costing us both more. In addition, you are not expanding your skill set and you are creating an employment gap on your resume that becomes more difficult to remedy each day that passes.

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The Resume and Unemployment

Posted on November 12, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

According to an LA Times report on November 12, 2010 referencing data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 15 million Americans were unemployed in October 2010. A whopping 42% of that 15 million—yes, that’s more than 6.2 million—had been out of work for more than 26 weeks.

Some of you may recall that just 2 years ago, the unemployment benefit was maxed out at 26 weeks. However, in November 2008, Congress extended that to 39 weeks and it has since grown to 99 weeks as part of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) and Extended Benefits (EB) programs.

What’s the Problem?
The gravy train may actually be ending, as the extended benefits are set to expire in December 2010. However, a consortium of unemployment advocacy groups have banded together to form an entity called The American 99ers Union, who is aggressively lobbying Congress to extend unemployment benefits through 2011—yes, another full year!

Despite the fact that joining together, forming organizations, and lobbying Congress takes away from time actually searching for a job, a deeper issue is present here. How do you address this time frame on your resume?

To give you an example, I worked with an executive-level candidate who had been with a major corporation for more than 20 years before getting laid off. She had a great severance package that provided her with about 2 years of salary. Once the severance ran out, she went onto unemployment, first for 26 weeks, then for the additional 13 weeks, and finally for all 99 weeks.

How Does This Impact My Resume?
Now, she wants to have a resume prepared that positions her as a high-caliber business executive even though she had done absolutely nothing for nearly 4 years! In an economic climate where employers have the opportunity to hold out for the very best candidates, who in their right mind would give her a second glance, much less an interview or job offer?

So What Do I Do?
How should you handle an unemployment situation? My recommendation is to not take the bait. Forego the unemployment benefits if possible and assume your job search as a full-time position. Aggressively network, cold call, and send out resumes. If you must go on unemployment, consider whether you are getting lazy in your responsibility as a full-time job seeker. If you do get lazy, call the unemployment office and ask them to take you off the rolls. You will be much better off in the long-term as well as in the short-term by making yourself a much more marketable candidate.

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