Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Recruiter Makes Predictions About the Job Market

I think trying to predict the future is a little like trying the future. It's not easy. But that didn't stop me from asking a recruiter recently to give me an idea of where he believes this shaky job market will be in the next six months to a year. Here's what he told me for my Gannett/USAToday column.....

Wouldn't it make life much easier if someone could pull out a crystal ball and predict the day and hour when the economy will completely rebound and jobs will be plentiful?

"Our feeling is that we're going to see some growth in jobs, but it's going to be in fits and starts," he says. "There are going to be some soft patches in the next six months to a year, and we're in one of those soft patches right now."

While such a thing isn't possible, talking to those in the recruitment field often can yield some important clues about the job market in the next year and how you can best land work. One of the recruiters keeping his eye on the job market is Rob Romaine, president of MRINetworkin Philadelphia.

Still, Romaine says that he would rather see slow, measured growth right now because it "builds a better, stronger foundation" in the economy and the job market instead of "a line that goes straight up then comes straight down."

The unsettled feeling many have now about job stability and growth is because of uncertainty about the future, he says. But he does see some evidence that companies will continue to hire in the coming year with some industries such as information technology in bidding wars for top talent.

"There is significant demand right now in IT for a lot of different industries," he says. "Those in health care and pharmacy, finance, computer network and security — and even some engineering and manufacturing, are all looking for IT talent."

That growth has trickled down to a demand for more marketing and sales employees and also finance and accounting, he says.

Passive candidates — those not actively looking for a job — continue to hold a great attraction for companies that want employees up on the latest trends and ready to hit the ground running, Romaine says. Still, those now jobless and looking for work shouldn't feel discouraged.

"The greatest thing you can do now if you're looking for work is to network. Tell everyone you know that you're looking for a job," he says. "You may have an irrelevant conversation with a cousin that will lead to you finding a job."

He also recommends that those looking for jobs stay active on social networks such as LinkedIn because many recruiters find talent through that channel. He also suggests participating in industry organizations and traveling to conferences if necessary "to get yourself in front of people."

"I'm not going to discourage someone from cold calling or applying for jobs online," he says. "But that's a really hard way to get a job."

What about going back to school as a way to make yourself more marketable to employers?

Romaine says that graduates with a four-year degree have proven to have better luck landing jobs, so getting a college degree makes sense if you don't have one. Also, staying current on certifications is key "to show your skills are fresh." Graduate school may not be worth the time or money if your industry doesn't really demand it.

Some other advice and predictions from Romaine:

• Salaries won't recover soon. Some companies cut salaries 10% or more when the recession hit, and with salary increases averaging less than 2%, Romaine says don't count on starting a new job with a big pay jump over your previous position unless you're in high demand like workers in IT. In that case, you might just luck into a bidding war if you're considered a top recruit.

• Help with relocation will improve. When the housing market tanked, companies cut back on helping with moving or relocation costs. But he has seen some resurgence in relocation bonuses, especially as companies try to lure top talent.

• Overseas jobs may not be the answer. Don't jump at a job in another country simply to collect a paycheck. Many economies are struggling — and may even be worse than the United States. Romaine says those seeking overseas work still must have a strong network and skill set.


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