I had the pleasure of speaking this week to a group of 40 senior managers who are in job search mode. I do this a few times a year and noticed this time, the group was smaller and much more positive about prospects. They were an impressive experienced group of leaders from Operations to Sales and Marketing as well as HR. They see the up-swing in the market but they still experience uneven growth in unpredictable places. They all chimed in that the opportunities might be there but the navigation to real conversations with corporate leaders was still illusive and frustrating. The hiring process remains slow and elongated. The old style of job search for a specific job is fading away.
Why is this the case? We are in a talent scarce market for those hard to fill, leadership or technically savvy middle or senior managers. So, we clearly need to fill jobs and they are still posted out there. However, there is a lot of noise and managers are overwhelmed with work. We need to look at the network and the art of connecting. I know we are all on LinkedIn checking out each other. Who needs a resume today? Talent is connecting and communicating across platforms and their own network and managers are doing the same thing. It goes both ways. It is a transparent and interconnected world. If one company treats a candidate poorly, then it is shared across multiple or hundreds of connections potentially within minutes. If Zappos leads the way by creating an Insider program - we all learn about it and comment. What a novel idea, to create a place where a company can build new fans and leverage the relationship they already have with a huge fan base.
The Wall Street Journal this morning, has a weekend interview column with Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn and COO of PayPal. He says that "your identity is now constituted by your network. You are your friends, you are your tribe, you are your interactions with colleagues and customers and even your competitors." He says and I agree that we are no longer in control of our resume.
So, where are the jobs? The Inc 500 and 5000 CEO's are fueling our economy and soaking up what they must do to attract and engage talent. Every resource matters to them. I have had more fascinating conversation in the past six months about how to build a great internal talent attraction system and culture than I can recall. Yes, there is a steep learning and implementing curve for the small company but they care about getting the right talent and view them as an investment. The concept of helping employees be "employable" by training and expanding their role is natural and essential in a smaller company. You have to wear many hats.
So, what does this mean for the job seeker? Forget the conversation about a "job" or a "title" and start communicating your perspective about business and growing talent. Share your point of view online and in person - start conversations with business leaders and your job prospects in an entirely new way. Ask them about their challenges, be curious, share your views and engage them. Be bold, and give up a narrow view on what your title was in a former job. This interconnected world offers so much more information about who we are as leaders and the work we can get involved in. Start there and you may be surprised to learn of an opportunity where there is a match in interest and in need. We are in the network age - it is far more interesting and allows us to share our stories and find synergy in more fun ways. Enjoy!