When Things Look Good - It's Going To Get Ugly

Times are bad now. Ignore what you are reading in the news because, regardless of the unemployment numbers and the spin, the fact remains that it is an ugly job market. As I am always saying on my show, this is not about politics and I am not going to get into that slime pool (today) but I am continuing to hear that we have turned the corner and the recovery is happening. If that is true, which every fiber of my being says it is not, then we are in for a very ugly time.

Now I know what you are saying….Mike, things need to get better. Are you rooting for the recession to continue? Of course not, but this is a very unique time and for us working folks there needs to be an understanding of the dynamic in front of us, because, for the out of work Joe, behind this silver lining there really is a dark cloud.
To explane… Everyone who is reading this and truly hates their job raise their hand. I can’t even see you but I know your hand is up. Those who have a job have been working twice as hard doing the tasks of two, three or more people. They are scared out of their mind that a layoff is just around the corner. Companies have done little to instill a sense of security for their employees. Since 2008, our health benefits have been cut or the costs to us increased perks that have been eliminated, 401(k)’s altered, and wage increases have been put on hold. These and the hundreds of other things that have made the workplace more miserable, the company needed to do to survive. Most companies had to do this to keep the doors open. A few businesses knew that employees would put up with whatever was shoveled at them since we were all too scared to even think of jumping in the job market. Worry turned into fear. Fear turned into anger. Anger has turned into rage. 90% of every person I have spoken to on and off the air has told me they are jumping ship the moment they can. Which leads to why a recovering job market is going to be very ugly experience.
The moment current employees think that the economy is safely growing resume’s are going to start flying like gnats on a hot day. For every posted new job opening, what is 300 replies will turn into 3000. Job fair’s will see lines at the entranceway larger than a Justin Bieber concert. What was once smorgasbord of talent on the marketplace will turn into a massive feast for employers looking for the best talent available. Companies will have their pick of the litter and they will choose people on a much higher standard and that standard will unfortunately focus on people who currently have a job.
For the currently unemployed, they will unfortunately see that they have been shoved to the back of the line. Companies will reflexively lean toward people who survived the layoffs, did the work of three, and have made it through the fire. This may not seem right or fair but it is the reality. The people who want out of their current job will have better connections, market themselves more effectively, and have a more active network than someone who has been unable to find work for six months. The stigma of not having a job for an extended period of time will creep into the selection process like a copperhead sneaking into your garage on a hot day. It’s not evil but it is just the way things are.
So if you are out of work, you must prepare for this dynamic shift. If you are not doing these already…you are already behind in the game
#1 Work. You should be spending as much time looking for a job as you would working a job. This gives you leverage over an employed person who has limited ability to search during the day. Leverage the daylight to actively network your way into companies and meet the right people. If you don’t know how to do it, go listen my radio show’s on networking (its free).
#2 When your not looking for a job – Work. Get into the community. Volunteer some time for a charity and get those efforts on your resume. Demonstrate that although you have not been employed by a company, you have continued to contribute to the community. Nothing will look better for you than to have listed on your resume work being performed now. As an employer, to see a Salvation Army cleanup project from July 2010, will put you in the stack along with the other employed people. Get busy…it will help your self esteem and look much better on your resume.
#3 Network, network, network. All the good jobs are not on the job boards, craigslist, or the newspaper. Some executive search firms are busy because companies can’t deal with the candidate flood. Good jobs are like good stock tips; you need inside information to know what is coming.
#4 Find out who’s thinking of leaving their job and meet the boss. Scan the blogs and learn about which companies have the most miserable people. Predict their turnover and you will have the pick of the best jobs out there. Some companies are going to have a massive exodus of employees. This will wake up companies who have overworked their people and they will make a course correction. You will come into a better job with a company who understands that they will need to do more to keep you.(WARNING: Screen this company to make sure they understand why everyone left and ask how they are improving, otherwise you will just end up in a really bad job with a really bad culture)
#5 Be flexible. The employed person who jumps into the market is going to have horrific culture shock. They think they will get jobs that pay more and have better benefits. The compensation market has done a dramatic earnings correction and many working people are at the top of the compensation scale for the job they have. There will be a lot of frustrated employed people who will find they can’t get a job paying 10%, 20%, 30% more than they are making now. It’s a buyer’s market for talent now. Being unemployed you should have a good understanding of what your compensation needs are and you are less likely to be greedy. You can demonstrate that you have more talent and are more reasonably priced than someone who has not seen an unemployment check. (NOTE: This dynamic will change also should we see an escalated recovery and people bail in droves….but that is still a long way away)
All this is predicated on the possibility that the economy and job market is improving. I don’t see it happening until at least Q2 2011. At that time the impact of the November elections and the new tax/healthcare laws will have settled into the marketplace and companies may be feeling more stable. Anything could happen between now and then…so be prepared. I hope I am wrong and the people who are saying the economy is recovering may know more than I do. So if they are right, then what I have outlined above is going to happen and it’s going to be dramatic. This is one case where good news is going to make things really bad for a while.



Copyright © 2010 Mike Baumgartner | HR | Consulting | Coach |  Human Resources | Search - CEO, Worklife Survival Center LLC