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Reinventing the Job Search

Written on June 17, 2010 at 6:49 pm, by HRDyn

Today’s job seeker faces a daunting task. It seems like every potential employer is laying off, has a hiring freeze, is downsizing, or is accepting applications but has hundreds of resumes on file. From the employer’s standpoint, the current economy and uncertain future make it very difficult to plan and commit, especially hiring. Many employers, having recently been through lay-offs, are slow to re-hire even if their business is starting to pick up.

What can today’s job seeker do differently in this environment? One thing we have seen in our recruiting business is the need for project managers and sole proprietor consultants. How can the job seeker re-invent him/herself to take advantage of these “project” type opportunities and what does this mean for long term career growth? To re-invent, job seekers can sell themselves as a “fixer”, a problem solver; someone who is available full time for a finite time period; typically 3 to 6 months to perform a specific assignment. This re-inventor requires new techniques for the job (project) search. It is not mutually exclusive from what you are already doing to look for a “full-time” job. You can run both searches in parallel. But what is different for the search for project work is:

  1. Your search and networking is focused on what problems a company is facing (you would be amazed how the problems are similar across all industries i.e. customer service response time).
  2. Instead of standard resume, consider a “brochure” type presentation where you detail “problems you have solved for previous employers”.
  3. For project work your interview style should be more proactive: “Here is how I can attack your problem/opportunity”. You are selling yourself in the same manner as consulting firms sell their services, but unlike consultants whose primary focus is advice and methodology, you will roll up your sleeves and do the work. Call yourself a project manager, contract employee, interim manager. You must make it easy for the company to “engage” you.
  • You must meet the qualifications of an “independent contractor”. You must register for a tax indemnity – an EIN number which is form #SS-4, easily obtained online.
  • Be ready to propose your weekly fee requirements – fee not salary.
  • Express your interest in longer term employment, but emphasize you do not want the company to be under any obligation to hire you.

To summarize: Companies today have tremendous difficulty forecasting and planning so the concept of a “flexible” workplace is extremely timely. From the job seeker’s standpoint, being active and keeping job skills fresh and up-to-date is mandatory.

Finally, in our experience, at least 50% of these project assignments result in being hired by the company. Both you and the company have had a successful engagement so it’s easy to get married, which is often a major reason for a company to engage a project worker and is an excellent way for both you and the company to make the hiring decision.

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