Dear J.T. & Dale: I’ve been unemployed for nearly two years. My last employer decided they didn’t need a full-time help desk and laid us off. I figured I deserved a much-needed sabbatical. I had severance. Now, I’m résumé writing for a career pivot. Recruiters only want to stick you where they have openings or ghost you because you have standards. I’m just too old to start over at entry level. I try to stay hopeful, but I’m feeling beat up from the lies about salary, dead leads and disrespectful interviews. Is my dream job out there, or should I just settle? — Ron
J.T.: You’re not alone! A lot of people think it should be easy to get a job right now because all we hear about in the news is there’s a labor shortage. However, that shortage is for the jobs that everyone quit as part of the Great Resignation. Meanwhile, it’s actually the most competitive time in our history to look for work. Over 40 million people quit their jobs in 2021. They are all competing for the same jobs, the ones that they believe are better.
DALE: Do you settle? There’s a general rule at work here: If a job is easy to get, you probably don’t want it. (The “probably” is for those occasions when a great boss recognizes your work, maybe as a former colleague or maybe from seeing you in action as a supplier or competitor and hires you away.) Further, the best bosses at great companies aren’t posting jobs. No, people are competing to work for them, and any openings are filled via word of mouth.
J.T.: And that’s why my advice is to really dial into 20 companies you’d want to work for and network like crazy. There’s a hidden job market you tap into if you make friends with people working at your target companies. It’s the best way to stand out from the competition!
DALE: One of the good things about that strategy is that you’re positioning yourself for meeting with people doing the work, rather than with recruiters. You mentioned that recruiters “only want to stick you where they have openings or ghost you because you have standards.” Hold on: That’s their job — fill the openings in front of them and ignore everything else. Your background is with help desks, so maybe that skews your expectations, but remember, the recruiter isn’t there to help you, the candidate, but to help hiring managers. So back to networking. When making your list of target companies, keep in mind that the economy is shifting, and you want to screen targets for future success. No point in getting a new job only to have the company downsize later this year. (Most companies are LIFO for cutting employees: last in, first out.) So do some basic research on the industry and sector and, if it’s a public company, on predictions for revenues and earnings. It’s hard for your career to thrive if the company isn’t.
Dear J.T. & Dale: When applying for a new position, what does “résumé/CV” mean exactly? Does this mean résumé and cover letter or curriculum vitae? Also, is a three-page résumé with white space too long? — Renee
J.T.: “Résumé/CV” is just their way of saying you can submit either a résumé or a CV. It’s put like that for international talent who have a CV versus U.S.-based talent who have a résumé. Three pages is just fine if it’s formatted with white space.
DALE: There was a time when a three-page résumé would have been dismissed as a self-indulgent mistake. That’s from the time when résumés were being screened by HR people who could only give each one a few seconds. In that situation, you didn’t want to clutter up your résumé but, rather, slim it down. Now, though, with a lot of the screening done by computer systems, the longer the résumé, the more chances for “hits” on key words. Ironically, in a time of Twitter, TikTok and texting — the three T’s of thought compression — the résumé is going the other direction.
Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site www.workitdaily.com. Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab and author of a novel about H.R., “The Weary Optimist.” Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2022 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.