The Changing Landscape for Job Seekers
By: Mary Mulvihill Ed.D., Executive Director, Grace Institute
With the very structure of the employment sector changing, both workers and employers are trying to make sense of where the jobs will be in the future. Time will tell where new growth in job creation will emerge, but increased training in using new technology is a good start. Not only will workers need to acquire training at this time, they will need to continuously train in these new technologies which change quickly and will need to be upgraded often. In addition, there is much attention being given to the new "green economy". Special skills and training in energy-saving building and the use of products which increase sustainability are an area of focus of training providers. And, of course, it is a given in the 21st-century workplace that everyone must know the basic use of a computer. There are any number of programs which offer free computer and job skills training (www.graceinstitute.org) as well as public libraries and community centers and government programs. In addition, training in communication and customer service will continue to be critical pieces in an increasingly competitive business environment.
Workers may not have a choice about changing sectors as a result of the permanent loss of jobs the recession has brought about. Healthcare and education have been areas that have shown less weakness in the current environment, but even these sectors have shown a decline in opportunities for workers in 2009. A critical part of any job search has been that there be a good fit for the worker and employer and this remains so. However, in talking to dozens of job seekers, it is increasingly a theme that worried candidates say "I don't care, I need a job". Unemployed candidates have begun to see "a good fit" in terms of their personal job satisfaction as a luxury and instead go where the jobs are available. They focus now on re-training in the areas aforementioned to keep themselves and their families afloat and look at "a good fit" in terms of the skills they offer potential employers. With that said, it is still preferable to find a culture and environment in one's workplace that offers personal satisfaction and growth. Genuine enthusiasm for an available job comes through on any interview and in the workplace.
When job seekers do land an interview, the competition is intense. You may go through many rounds of interviews only to find that although you were an excellent candidate, you were not offered the position. This is the time to ask for feedback from your interviewers. If you were invited back a second or third time, you were clearly a serious contender for the job. Graciously asking for feedback on your presentation and skills may provide valuable insights for your next interview. It may also serve to strengthen your ties with that particular interviewer, someone you may then be able to add to your network.
During this time of uncertainty, it is important to remember that there are still jobs out there - it just may take longer to get one. Taking action now will hopefully yield results in the not too distant future. What to do in the meantime? Volunteer; join a job club; build a network; don't isolate. Finally, get training - training that will give you the skills and confidence to move into this new economic environment confidently. In the words of American writer, Pearl S. Buck, "The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it".
For over 100 years, Grace Institute has provided tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different backgrounds. In the tradition of its founding family, Grace is dedicated to the development of the personal and business skills necessary for self-sufficiency, employability and an improved quality of life.