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Run for the Prize

A friend recently shared some preliminary findings from research that was being conducted by several economists.  Their research showed that job seekers get off to a fast start when it comes to job searching. Job seekers they researched fired off several applications and were very focused in their initial search, targeting jobs to their skills and education levels but they began to quickly fade after the first week! Their efforts went almost totally flat after ten weeks of job searching. The researchers also noted that as the weeks wore on the job seekers begin to apply for lower quality jobs that were not a good match for their education and skills levels. As a marathon runner this reminded me of the inexperienced runners who go out too quickly in a race only to end up walking a few miles later. They failed to stick to the plan. The goal is to finish the race, enjoy the experience and do your personal best but compete as if you’re running for the prize.

Workforce professionals observe job seekers with this dilemma, particularly job seekers who have been dislocated after a longer term of steady employment. They get “burned out” and discouraged after a few weeks of trying. Their self esteem gets battered from the constant rejection. Folks can get into a deep depression even to the point that requires professional counseling or medical care. Our job is to encourage them to stay positive, pace themselves for the long run and stay focused on the fact that their current job is to get a job. Having been through a downsizing myself, I found that having several peer groups to connect with kept me accountable and motivated. In addition to the networking group that was hosted by the local JobLink Career Center, I joined two local job clubs hosted by faith based groups and also co-founded another group myself. These groups were great ways to generate job leads and get valuable business intelligence. Peers shared tips on how job interviews were conducted and we were all inspired and motivated when folks reported they had accepted a job offer.

The facilitator at the weekly JobLink networking group suggested that we focus on getting out of the house and exercising on a regular basis. This was great advice as I can personally attest to the fact that not only is it beneficial from a health stand point, it provided a time to plan and reflect on my Job search.  I also discovered that the local YMCA and the walking trails are excellent venues to network and generate job leads.

So many times I’ve heard folks say in retrospect they were so glad they didn’t get that subpar job they applied for. Thankfully they hung in there and landed a better opportunity. The 2012 Skills Survey of N.C. Employers, conducted by N.C. Business Services Representatives showed that 73% of businesses currently use word of mouth to fill positions. In the current job market, the majority of positions aren’t posted on job boards as employers are afraid of being flooded with job applicants. This reality is more reason to network and not hesitate to send a resume to a targeted employer. The bottom line is if you are in the job race, keep your pace and go for the “prize” job. If you need assistance, contact one of our local JobLink Career Centers. If you meet a job seeker give them encouragement to go for the prize.

To find more resources available for job seekers please visit the Centralina Workforce Development Board website.  We can help connect you with workshops that will give you that cutting edge in the job search, as well as other resources that can assist you in getting training and guidance on your career choice.  For more information please contact David Hollars at (704) 348-2717 or you can reach him by email at dhollars@centralina.org.

This article was composed by Vail Carter, Vail is the Business Services Coordinator for the Centralina Workforce Development Board. His prior work experience includes non-profit management and banking. He recently led a statewide skills survey of North Carolina employers and authored the report that was released this year. Vail has presented at several state and regional workforce conferences.

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