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If It’s a Job Seeker’s Market, Why Can’t I Find a New Job?

by Julie Norwell

“The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, the country has seen eight years of job growth and the market is a job seeker’s dream. So, why is it so challenging to find a job?”

Sound familiar? The answer to the question might be different for you than it is for someone else: Maybe it’s your age; maybe robots are consuming the jobs in your field; or maybe it’s simply that the method for job hunting has dramatically changed since the last time you did it. Despite the seemingly rosy employment picture these days, the search for the perfect job can sometimes seem like a quest for the Holy Grail – you search near and far, for months on end, only to end up wondering whether it actually exists.

Whatever the reason, don’t despair! And take some comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.

Barriers to Entry

Part of the difficulty is that you’re facing more competition. Thanks to technology, recruiters can now cast a wider net than ever before to find candidates with the right skill set.

What’s more, there are more people in the market because a job seeker’s market entices more workers to re-enter it to look for a better option. A report published in 2017 by nonprofit Mental Health America and the FAAS Foundation found that, of 17,000 U.S. workers surveyed across 19 industries, 71% were “thinking about, or actively looking for new job opportunities.”

It may also be that occupations in your field or industry are in decline.

Many technology-based industries, for example, have gone bust in the wake of recent technological changes. The Data Recovery Services industry, which developed in response to a demand for salvaging data from damaged hard drives, now numbers one of the top 10 dying industries in North American due to the emergence of cloud computing and storage, according to IbisWorld. Also on the list is the Wired Telecommunications Carriers industry, which has been sidelined by the emergence of wireless cellphones and smart phones. If your career was forged in a declining industry, you need to think about how to transfer your skills to a different one.

If you’re over 50, the insidious effects of ageism are an unfortunate reality. According to a recent AARP survey, 61% of respondents reported seeing or experiencing age discrimination on the job. An age bias risks diminishing your career prospects or lengthening the time it takes you to find a new position.

These challenges might seem like “barriers to entry” to prospective jobs, but none of them is insurmountable.

There are steps you can take to increase your value to employers and develop a competitive edge to ensure that it is you who stands out from the crowd.

The Many Benefits of Networking

For many reasons, a successful job search begins with networking. Most jobs are filled through networking. Job board postings usually happen only after someone has been earmarked for that position. Professional connections, however, enable you to learn about potential opportunities before they become available.

Get out of the house, attend networking events and professional conferences, especially those where you will meet professionals that can refer you to influential people inside your target company.

If you do learn about a great opportunity on your own, do not send a cover letter and resume until you figure out an “in” at the company. The first thing you should ALWAYS do, according to Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer of the Barrett Group, it to consider whether you have social capital that connects you to that company, and whether that person would advocate to the company on your behalf.

Leveraging social connections is the most effective way to get your foot in the door.

Sometimes a social connection is reason enough for a company to create an opportunity. Employers understand that current employees, who know the company culture and mission, are uniquely qualified to identify excellent candidates. So, they are more receptive to employee references. With a good enough pitch, you might convince a hiring manager that hiring you will solve a problem he didn’t know he had!

Keep Your Skills Current

Whether its industry-specific professional development, knowing the latest digital productivity tools used by your company or just embracing new work modes, it is incumbent on you to continually develop yourself. If you don’t evolve, you will be left behind. Companies value most the employees that can keep up with new skills. And doing so is crucial if you want to get a leg up on the competition. Today, having top-notch skills is a more valuable currency than an impressive resume.

Resume Writing in the Digital Age

Virtually all job communications today, including sending resumes, happens electronically. If your resume submissions seem to be going into a black hole, they may be getting punted out of contention by ATS, or Applicant Tracking Systems. ATS software offers hiring managers numerous filters to quickly scan thousands of resumes for keywords that match the job description. If your resume doesn’t include those keywords, it won’t be seen by human eyes.

Therefore, you must tailor your resume for every single job, structured according to what the company’s known needs are and including all the right keywords. The success of your application might hinge on one word. The length can be as long as necessary to show employers that you offer tremendous value, but limit the content to that which will make you appear like the perfect fit.

If you haven’t gotten a response in a week or two, follow up. Sometimes that extra effort, demonstrating your interest and attention, is enough to move your resume to the next round.

Engage a Career Management Firm

There are innumerable benefits to hiring a career expert to help you navigate the waters of your job search. These professionals can give you a fresh perspective on shortcomings you need to work on, the value that you offer, and suggestions on how to parlay your skill set into opportunities that you may not have thought about. They can also offer support to rejigger your job hunt and professional profile that will turbo-charge your efforts.

Are you a victim of ageism? A career professional will coach you on how to leverage your experience to your advantage and convince employers that companies that value mature workers make for more successful companies.

Stuck in a dead-end field? A career professional will help you translate your skills and previous work experience into another field.

Lacking confidence? A career professional will help you understand the rules of the game, give you the tools that you need to market yourself, and advise you on the best way to focus your efforts so that you can attain the optimal position. She will review your resume, coach you on interviewing skills – perhaps even suggest a wardrobe refresh (ever so delicately, of course!).

Above all, if you are to convince an employer that you will be successful, you must believe it yourself. Armed with the help that a career management firm offers, you can commit yourself with confidence to your job search.

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How To Prepare For Interviews

By Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at the Barrett Group

Most job seekers are concerned with finding out about the company, opportunity, the compensation and individuals with whom they will work. All interviewers are concerned with finding the most qualified candidate.

The most important strategy when preparing for interviews is to focus on qualifying yourself for the opportunity.  Any concerns about the company, opportunity, compensation and the team should always be deferred until you receive an offer.

It may seem odd, but it is critically important to focus the limited about of time you have during the interview to ensure the interviewer feels that you are expertly qualified. Even when they ask you for any questions you may have.

When asked for their questions, most job seekers will ask questions related to the company’s plans for growth. Some will ask questions about how employees are treated.

Many people ask about the culture of the company, the opportunity for advancement, tools they will have at their disposal or even dive into questions about salary or compensation. This is a BAD strategy.

Remember the famous quote from John F. Kennedy?

Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

By asking questions that prove to the interviewer that you are concerned with their needs, you will uniquely qualify yourself as the only job seeker who is on the same page as the company.

Considering you have approximately 35-60 minutes to prove you are a perfect fit, you should instead ask the following questions:

  • What are the major challenges my department is facing?
  • Are there any burning issues that need to be addressed?
  • What will be my #1 priority?
  • What are the successes that my department is most proud of?
  • What are the department’s weaknesses?
  • If you were in my shoes, what would you focus on for the first 30 days?
  • Which liaison partnerships are the most important for success in this position?
  • Given the makeup of the team and individuals I will be working with, what type of management style would you suggest as being most effective?
  • What is the “customers” expectation?
  • What is the most important area that you will view when judging my success?
  • Ask your boss: “Let’s say that you hired me 6 months ago and you feel that I am the best hire you have ever made. What would I have had to accomplish during that time to make you feel that way?

AND… FINALLY, THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION:

  • Do you feel my background and experience are a good fit for your needs?

Asking the last question above is critically important.  “Do you feel my background and experience are a good fit for your needs?”, allows you to know where you stand and offers the opportunity for you to correct any misperceptions as well as providing additional critical information. You will be able to clearly define next steps and timing. You will always end the interview knowing how well you did.

If asked, “Don’t you have any questions about the company, the pay or the people with whom you will work?” You can simply state, “Sure, but I am more interested in qualifying myself for the job.”

Once the top candidate has been selected, then the timing for questions about what is in it for you would be appropriate.

The Barrett Group is a boutique career management firm for executives with a basic service philosophy focused on serving each unique client employee uniquely.  We do not believe in a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach.  Our service delivery is designed around this belief.

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How To Succeed In Finding A Job In 2019

The job market is conducive to finding a job. The unemployment rate is down, there are more jobs open than potential candidates available to fill those roles. If you have been job searching for a while and with limited success, it is reasonable to ask yourself why that is, and what you can do to succeed in finding a job in 2019.

With many online job search tools available today, it is easy and convenient to find job postings and apply. It is a surefire way to keep busy. Some people believe it is a numbers game – you submit so many applications, one will eventually lead to an interview, possibly to an offer and a new job. But there is a better way!

Have you ever considered going about your job search strategically?

Treating it as a work project? If not, why not? “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein) If you want different results in your job search than what you’re currently getting, you may need to try different approaches. Some of these techniques include networking, job fairs, research, cold calling, informal interviews and working with recruiters, headhunters, and a personal career management consultant.

Networking as part of your job search – think outside the box!

Of course, you want to include your family and friends, neighbors, college alumni, co-members of associations, co-board members and your professional connections… in addition to asking them for support, also ask whether they have relevant contacts in your desired job role, industry, company, or geographic area and whether they would introduce you. Then add new contacts to your network, either by attending events, researching and connecting with contacts at companies you admire, or networking sites like LinkedIn.

Why attend career fairs?

  1. They offer an excellent opportunity to network, much like industry-association meetings. At job fairs, everyone talks about the job market – you can find out which companies are hiring, laying people off, or looking for specific skill sets.
  2. Recruiters attend career fairs – a great way to mingle with the recruiting community and practice interviewing skills.
  3. Save time by attending online job fairs. Always research job fairs, attend those that are most relevant for your skill set and prepare well before you show up.

Research should be a cornerstone of your job search!

Research all companies you would like to work for, visit their websites. Review the job roles you would like to apply for and find out who at those organizations works in your areas of interest and reach out to them. Continue with national, regional and local professional organizations in your field, connect with peer professionals and find field-specific job listings on their websites or printed publications. Apply out-of-the-box thinking to your job search and be strategic about how you invest your time.

Cold calling

Once you know where you want to work and found out who may be in a position to hire you, reach out to them. When calling, be prepared and have your pitch ready to launch. This will give you the chance to make yourself known to the employer, make a connection, build a relationship and inquire about what skills and qualities are required to work within the company.

Informal interviews

Make informal interviews or exploratory sessions part of your job search strategy – they are a great way to get to know and learn more about a potential employer – keep in mind, of course, that this is a two-way street! Come prepared with research about the company and your contact, be ready to discuss your career path and goals, as well as ideas on how and on which level you could fit within the company. Working with a personal career consultant can help you with all types of scenarios you encounter during your job search.

Work with recruiters and/or head hunters

First, understand that recruiters, etc. are paid by their corporate client companies, either by retainer, contingency – or salary, in case of internal recruiters. In all cases, the service they provide is filling open job orders. Accordingly, a great deal of their effort is expended on obtaining these job orders and winning favor with the HR department and hiring executives so the stream of job orders continues. They do not get paid to get people jobs; indeed, a private individual can’t “hire” a recruiter, as they only work for companies, not job seekers. For more information on how to effectively work with the recruiting community, click the button below.

The Unpublished Market

Keep in mind that 60%-80% of all jobs are never advertised. Tapping into the unpublished market is completely different than working through job postings, creating job feeds, dealing with 3rd party recruiters and head hunters. It takes about two to three months to successfully market your reputation and leverage your value/social capital to targeted companies. This approach requires more personal investment and you may need to step out of your comfort zone, but it supplements every job search and possibly offers greater rewards in a shorter time span.

Career Management by The Barrett Group

The Barrett Group is a professional career management firm that specializes is helping clients land at their dream jobs faster and at a higher compensation package than they would be able to achieve without our team of career management specialists by their side. We’re proud of our 90% success rate and invite you to introduce yourself to our team and tell us about your background and where you want to go next.

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Pretty Soon, Old People Will Have All The Jobs

By Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at the Barrett Group

The U.S. workforce isn’t expected to age particularly well over the next decade. Though much ado has been made over the millennial generation sweeping into the labor market and supplanting both those in Generation X and baby boomers as the largest active age demographic in the domestic workforce, the average U.S. employee is still getting older, and what that means for the future of American employment is complicated.

The Pew Research Center earlier this year estimated the labor force held nearly 54 million millennials, or individuals who in 2015 were between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. That number for the first time eclipsed the pool of workers from Generation X, or those between 35 and 50 years old. Millennials were also expected to unseat baby boomers as the largest living generation in the general population at some point before year’s end.

But while it would be easy to assume that millennials’ meteoric rise would naturally drag down the median age of American workers, that’s not exactly how the last several years have played out. It’s also not a trend that’s likely to crop up in the foreseeable future. Back in 1996, the median age of U.S. employees was 38.3 years old, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That metric climbed to 40.8 years old by 2006 and to 42.0 years by 2016. By 2026, the median age of U.S. workers is expected to be 42.3 years old.

So why is it that America’s workforce isn’t getting younger as millennials reach working age? Part of the reason is that a greater share of older Americans are bucking traditional retirement and staying in the labor force longer than has historically been the case. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of Americans at least 55 years old who were active in the civilian labor force ballooned by 47.1 percent, according to the BLS. And that number is expected to grow nearly 20 percent over the next 10 years. 

“The labor force will continue to age, with the average annual growth rate of the 55-years-and-older group projected to be 1.8 percent, more than three times the rate of growth of the overall labor force,” a BLS report released earlier this month said. “The group’s share of the labor force is anticipated to increase from 21.7 percent in 2016 to nearly 25 percent in 2026.”

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It’s a Job Seeker’s Market Now, But Is the End In Sight?

Explore Your Career Change

    by Julie Norwell
If you’re a spectator on the sidelines of the of the job market waiting for a good time to jump into the game, now is the time. Conditions couldn’t be better for job seekers at the moment. If you wait, however, some indicators suggest that the economy may not look so rosy by this time next year. To be sure, the current labor market is every job seekers dream. The US has seen eight years of job growth, and the unemployment rate at 3.7 is the lowest it’s been in about 50 years. In early December the Fed reported that labor markets have tightened further across a broad range of occupations. Conditions are so tight, in fact, that some emboldened employees in Chicago have “simply quit – with no notice nor means of contact.” To address the challenge of finding and retaining qualified workers, companies are raising wages and offering better nonwage benefits. Talk about a job seeker’s ideal market!

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The Bureau of Labor tells a similar story. Since 2000 the Bureau of Labor has tracked monthly job openings, new hires and separations (which includes terminations, both voluntary and involuntary), in a report called the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. Voluntary quits have been rising since 2012 and have surpassed prerecession levels. Several statistics demonstrate the remarkably constrained labor market.
According to the report, for most of its history, the number of hires (measured throughout the month) has exceeded the number of job openings (measured only on the last business day of the month). Since January 2015, however, this relationship has reversed with job openings outnumbering hires in most months. At the end of September there were 7.0 million open jobs versus 5.7 million hires. Even more telling is the chart in the same report that measures the number of unemployed persons per job opening. The chart shows a sharp drop from a peak in 2009 of over 6.5 to less than one today. In other words, in September 2018 there were 0.9 unemployed persons per job opening – a series low.
Clouds on the Horizon While the tight labor market is great for workers, the flip side is that employers face challenges to find and retain qualified workers. Adding to their business uncertainty are worries about tariffs and rising interest rates.
Other parts of the economy now seem to be coming under a cloud, too. The government budget deficit is growing. And the stock market, which often heralds economic downturns, has been roiling recently as investors react to plunging oil prices and mixed messages coming out of the White House about a lasting trade deal with China. Meanwhile, ominous signs are visible in the bond markets where investors are signaling concern about the long-term economic outlook. Tatyana Shumsky, a deputy editor at the Wall Street Journal, reports that corporate optimism about the U.S. economy
among finance executives has slipped to a two-year low. And a recent headline on Nasdaq.com even boldly asked, “Is the Economy Heading Into a Recession?” If economic trouble is on the horizon, now is the time to find your next job. You’d be wise to make your move before conditions change.

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Which Industries Are Hiring? In the November report by the Department of Labor, nonfarm payroll employment rose by 155,000. The industries with the most gains were health care, manufacturing (largely in the durable goods industries), and transportation and warehousing. Employment in professional and business services, where 561,000 jobs have been added over the year, also continued to be strong.
For professionals, there is, perhaps, an even better source of employment information. LinkedIn, which is used by over 20,000 companies in the U.S. for recruiting and where over 150 million workers have LinkedIn profiles, is now a go-to resource for everything from networking to job searches. Because people actively update their profiles to reflect changes in their employment status, LinkedIn has become a valuable tool in researching job trends. According to LinkedIn’s November Workforce Report, gross hiring in the U.S. across all industries was up 3.8% from the year before.
The industries with the biggest hiring increases in that time period were Public Safety (up 10.3%), Corporate Services (up 10.2%) and Software and IT Services (up 9.7%). Other industries that round out the top 10 include, Agriculture, Wellness & Fitness, Transportation & Logistics, Finance, Health Care, Design, and Energy and Mining. LinkedIn reports that national hiring has leveled off since the summer, although it is too soon to say whether this is the start of a trend. The industries that had the greatest hiring increases on a month-to-month basis in October are Legal, Public Safety, Corporate Services Agriculture, Finance.

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In general, Health Care, which boasts not only fast job growth for many different occupations but also growth in the overall number of jobs added to the economy, promises to be an industry leader for employment opportunities in the long-term. But some industries will be vulnerable if the trade war worsens, particularly Manufacturing, Transportation and Agriculture. Which Regions are Hottest? According to LinkedIn, Austin, Denver and Nashville attract more workers across the U.S. than other cities. For every 10,000 LinkedIn members in Austin, 121 more arrived over the past 12 months. In fact, Austin, along with Denver and San Diego, were the U.S. cities with the most overall migration activity, including workers moving into and out of the city.
Thirty-six states had year-on-year increases in employment in October with the largest gains in Texas, California and Florida. The labor market has tightened in more than two-thirds of the largest cities compared to a year ago. A tight labor market reflects the limited number of workers to fill the available jobs. But a growing problem for some employers is not a lack of available workers but a lack of workers with the right skills for the job.
San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles top the list of the cities with the greatest shortages of skills. The skills in demand depend on the city. Oral Communication, Business Management, Leadership and Digital Literacy, for example, are in great need in all three cities. Workers with skills in high demand will find themselves especially sought after by employers who are increasingly desperate to find new talent. But, as long as the economy stays strong, job seekers of all skills are in the driver’s seat.

Are You Ready For A Career Change?

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When a Company Prioritizes Diversity, Everyone Benefits

Explore Your Career Change

    by Julie Norwell

Diversity is a hot topic in the news these days. The mid-term elections just ushered in a rainbow of newcomers to the House of Representatives, including a record number of women. Events of the past year have galvanized women and their supporters in historic ways, forcing us all to reflect on the fairness of the treatment and representation of women in the business world. It is fair and right to increase the numbers of women at senior levels in the work world. But there is an even better reason to do it: Companies that have more women in leadership positions perform better than those that don’t.

There is a growing body of evidence that correlates companies that prioritize gender diversity with better business performance. Various studies have analyzed different angles to this phenomenon and the results are eye-opening. Companies that promote diversity enjoy higher financial returns, longer-term economic profit, more innovative efficiency, and, ultimately, a competitive advantage over other companies.

Diversity isn’t just about gender, either. It’s about people with a broader range of experiences and backgrounds than the white men who have historically run companies. Research shows that the benefit to companies of hiring people of different races, ethnicities, abilities, and sexual persuasions, is strong financial performance – even stronger than that of gender diversity alone.

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If you’re in the job market, naturally, you want to target an employer that is more successful and innovative than others. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to seek out companies that promote inclusion and diversity. As it turns out, companies with diverse workforces tend to be better places to work at the individual level. Because people from different cultures and backgrounds require different accommodations from their employment, diverse companies tend to have more flexible policies – such as remote working, generous time off, or onsite child care – that will enhance your own work-life experience. In the business world, diversity is a winning strategy for everyone.

A Better Bottom Line

There is growing corporate awareness of the value that diversity brings to business. Global Consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, a leader in research about diversity and women in the workplace, has produced some remarkable findings – and companies are taking notice. McKinsey sees a consistent trend over several years confirming that diversity matters.

According to its newly released 2018 report, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21% more likely to have above-average profitability (compared to 15% in 2015) – as measured in earnings before interest and tax, or EBIT – than companies in the fourth-quartile; and they were 27% more likely to outperform fourth-quartile companies on longer-term value creation. Ethnic and cultural diversity, also, continues to strongly correlate with profitability. Companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams are 33% more likely to outperform peers on profitability (compared to 35% in 2015).

Interestingly, companies that rank poorly on diversity actually lag behind their industry peers – they are 29% more likely to underperform. The results are clear: when companies commit themselves to diverse leadership, they are more successful.

McKinsey’s work dovetails with the conclusions of other research, such as a recent study that found that corporate policies that promote diversity and a culture of inclusion not only increased a company’s value, but also its innovative efficiency. What’s more, they found that these efforts pay off especially well during economic downturns.

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Another interesting report in 2016 found that the impact of female leadership on firm performance increases with the share of female workers, the thinking being that female executives are better equipped at interpreting signals of productivity among female workers.

What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander

Women bring a unique stable of demands to the workplace. Regardless of their employment position or how much money they make compared to their domestic partner, women statistically do the lion’s share of the work managing their home lives. Call it their “second job.” The burden of childcare and eldercare, among many other responsibilities, tends to fall to them, which all too often inhibits their career growth.

Some businesses (albeit, not enough) recognize this and try to offer women – and by extension all of their employees – creative solutions as a means to retain valuable talent and reduce the cost of onboarding. They might offer the option to work from home, take extended leave or work non-traditional business hours.

Even more impressive are the companies that go the extra mile in offering exiting employees an outplacement program, such as the one offered at The Barrett Group, to soften their transition to another more suitable employment.

Men and women, alike, benefit from a more supportive work environment and a better work-life balance. Employees who feel that their needs are respected by the company make for a more engaged workforce. On the flip side, companies that think creatively about accommodating the needs of their employees will find that their workforce is happier, more productive and innovative, and at lower risk of quitting.

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Diversity Benefits the Individual, the Company…the World

Diversity makes good sense at a micro and a macro level. At the micro level, it is not necessarily the case that diverse companies perform better because women and minorities are better at running a business, or because they make better business decisions, rather, because they tend to attract a broader range of talent.

Diverse companies are attractive not only to women and minorities, but also to everyone who wants to work for forward-thinking organizations. And workers with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences offer valuable perspectives in the decision-making process, which improves a company’s overall corporate performance.

At the macro level, there is a significant economic implication for countries that underutilize a large segment of their workforce. McKinsey Global Institute estimated in a 2015 report that global GDP would increase $12 trillion if women achieved gender parity with men. The issue of the economic contributions of women is even more salient in countries with aging populations. Countries with graying workforces can’t afford to ignore the underrepresentation of half of their population in the labor market.

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In the context of a tight employment market and the competitive demands of the digital age in the U.S., employers must be smart about attracting and retaining talent. Consequently, there is a growing trend for companies to develop Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) programs to tap into the myriad benefits that diversity brings. Smart job seekers will, therefore, focus on such companies because gender parity, diversity, and inclusion are not just women’s or social issues – they are business issues.

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Career Management Tips for Legal Executives

Explore Your Career Change

    by Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at the Barrett Group

When considering changing careers, keep the following tips from The Barrett Group Legal’s career management professionals in mind to prevent some of the most common mistakes legal professionals make:

    1. If you want to get out of litigation, do not focus on litigation as your main competency, billable hours and case work in your value proposition; instead, highlight your marketing or business development skill sets, how you run operations of your own law firm, your community outreach, all of the charities and relationships you built with municipalities and government representatives.
    2. When transitioning from a private practice or law firm employer to a corporate in-house or legal services employment, include your competencies in collaboration, leadership, interdepartmental and cross functional communication; as well as best practices and protocol authoring/compliance; customer, community and vendor/3rd party acquisition, outreach, and relationship nurturing.
    3. Focus on corporate or company challenges versus cases won and case law.
    4. Highlight operational expertise, accounting and financial wellness, marketing and business development efforts, pro bono, community or charity work.
    5. Include metrics and quantifiable results – employ workarounds in content authoring if concerned about confidentiality.
    6. Get used to working with Word documents versus PDFs for your hiring process.

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What Should Women Know to Get Ahead?

Explore Your Career Change

    by Julie Norwell

Between the #MeToo movement and the Kavanaugh confirmation process, the national news has been focused on women a lot recently. It seems fitting in this forum, then, to consider employment from the perspective of women. It’s no secret that they have a tougher road to travel than men. Their disadvantages begin right out of the gate and have no end in sight. So, what should women know to get ahead in the employment market?

Understanding the barriers to achievement for working women and quantifying the obstacles are the first steps towards gender parity. It is hard to measure when and by how much sexism tips the balance against a woman in the workplace. Consider Serena Williams’ loss to Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open last month. Was the umpire harder on Williams than he would have been on a male tennis player behaving in the same way? Many argue that he was and altered the outcome of a high-stakes match in the process. In a similar way, women face harsher judgement by employers and superiors in the workplace, resulting in fewer hires, promotions and pay raises than men – and sometimes more terminations. In the corporate world judgements usually are aren’t on public display. But statistics tell the story.

What Do We Know?

Women earn more college degrees than men and have done so for decades, and they also represent 57% of the U.S. population. Nevertheless, women make up only 47% of all entry-level hires.

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According to reports by data company Visier, women are 21% more likely than men to be considered “top performers” by their companies. Yet, they continue to be hired and promoted at lower rates than men, and they continue to lose ground throughout their careers. Despite greater company commitment to gender diversity than ever before, women are paid 80% of a man who does the same job, and they are underrepresented in corporate America at every level. Studies also suggest that women are treated more harshly than men for similar misconduct violations at the same firm, time and location.

Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company has partnered with LeanIn.org to undertake a long-term, comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America. In the 2017 report, McKinsey has produced some remarkable new conclusions. One key finding is that women’s ambitions are curbed early. “At the first critical step up to manager, women are 18% less likely to be promoted than their male peers.”

Another key finding is that people don’t see the problem.

In companies where only one in ten senior leaders is a woman, nearly 50% of men think women are well represented in leadership – and as many as 33% of women agree.

Sometimes Culture is the Enemy

Some conclusions appear consistently in the report each year. One example is that women, in general, are less likely to receive advice from senior leaders on career advancement. This is problematic because employees who do so are more likely to be promoted. Apparently, men are just naturally more likely to mentor men and women are more likely to mentor women. But as men largely fill the ranks of senior leadership, women are left behind.

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Second, women are doing double duty. According to the report, 54% of women are shouldering all or most of the household work, compared to 22% of men. Women with a partner and children are 5.5 times more likely than their male counterparts to do all or most of the household work. This is true even of women who are the family breadwinners.

McKinsey finds that, contrary to conventional wisdom, women are as ambitious as men in achieving career success, and they are no more likely than men to plan to leave their jobs to focus on family. Still, when the pressures of family life rise, it is women who fill the gaps. Women are more likely than men to assume responsibility for child-care and women make up 60% of the caregivers for elderly family members.

Government Policies Are Failing Women

Outdated government social policies bear much of the blame for stalling progress towards gender parity. According to a new book published through the Brookings Institute, huge gaps in social programs, like affordable child-care and elder-care, exacerbate the problem.

Also, consider that U.S. is the only industrialized country without a national paid leave policy for mothers.

Companies aren’t doing their part either. Women in more senior roles are more likely to have a working spouse than men, but companies aren’t reliably supportive of employees who need to balance work and family. Less than two-thirds offer maternity leave beyond what’s required by law, and only about half offer fathers the same benefit. Meanwhile, longer-term support, such as emergency or on-site child care, is relatively scarce.

Perhaps less acknowledged is the tax penalty women often face when they get married. U.S. tax structure tends to raise the tax rate for the spouse who is the lower earner – which, for reasons already mentioned, is usually the woman. This has the effect of discouraging women’s labor force participation.

When it comes to career and financial advancement, the cards seem stacked against working women.

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Steps to Take to Get Ahead

The first step women might take when considering their career prospects is an optimal place to work. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research publishes an annual study of the employment and earnings status of women in the U.S. and ranks every state, plus Washington DC, based on the gender wage gap, women’s labor force participation, and representation in professional and managerial. According to this year’s study, only Washington DC merited an A grade. The next five highest ranking states (Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York and New Jersey) received a B+.

Industry is also important to consider. Although no industry can boast equal representation of women and men beyond the director level, certain industries do better than others, such as health care, insurance, pharmaceuticals/medical products and retail. The industries that struggle the most include automotive and industrial manufacturing, technology, and telecom and IT services.

No matter where they work, women need to be thoughtful about how to advance their careers. Not only should they ask for a raise, they should specify an amount. They should argue their case by demonstrating that they are high performers, have taken on a greater workload or assumed the responsibilities of a more senior person. Above all, they should solicit advice from managers on how to move to the next level.

One happy bit of news for women this past spring was the ruling by a federal appeals court that prohibits employers from paying a woman less than a man who is doing the same work because of her salary history. It effectively institutionalizes discrimination. To date, 11 states have banned employers from asking job applicants for salary history.

Breaking down barriers for women in the workplace is slow going.

But doing so ultimately benefits everyone. Until people at the government, corporate and individual level, alike, commit to resolving the problem, true progress will be elusive.

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The Future Of Work Is… Virtual!

Explore Your Career Change

    by Julie Norwell

The Digital Age Is Transforming Work: Here Is How to Get Out in Front of the Changes

A review of management consulting literature about the impact of the digital age on the workplace is apt to take your breath away. The language used predicts nothing short of a full-scale revolution of the global order of business as we know it.

Consider the following statements:

    1) “Digitization is sending tremors through traditional workplaces and upending ideas about how they function.” (McKinsey)
    2) “The digital age is moving at such a fast pace that it is fundamentally transforming the way organizations operate….” (Deloitte)
    3) “A tidal wave of change is coming that will soon make the way we work almost unrecognizable to today’s business leaders.” (Boston Consulting Group)

The consistent theme of these reports is that the landscape for workers of all calibers is shifting in very important ways. Automation, artificial intelligence and digitization will disrupt traditional notions about career-tracks and full-time employment.

Increasingly, organizations that have hired people for well-defined jobs with a general function will instead employ them for on-demand assignments.

They will favor creating small, flexible, high-performing teams with talents specific to a given project that can respond to varying workloads and short time tables. In an effort to be agile and responsive to technological advancements, companies will increasingly seek workers with specific expertise, whether it be from their own ranks or from contract employees working remotely – and outside the payroll.

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Understanding these and other changes and getting out in front of them will be crucial for everyone in the workforce to retain a competitive advantage – and even to stay relevant. It will be incumbent on us to continually learn new skills and remain open-minded about flexible work arrangements. Done right, we can learn to harness the benefits that the digital age offers us towards better work-life balance and overall job satisfaction.

The Gig Economy

The concept of the gig economy – that is, an employment environment where independent workers are increasingly used for short-term engagements – is getting a lot of study as people try to quantify it and analyze its impact. In 2016 global consulting firm McKinsey calculated that there are as many as 68 million independent earners in the US – or 27% of the working-age population (McKinsey). A year ago Intuit found that figure to be as much as 34% and said it was expected to reach 43% by 2020 (Money). Meanwhile, Forbes recently cited a survey that forecasts that over 50% of the US population will be freelancing by 2027 (Forbes)!

To be clear, these statistics do not mean that one in three workers is employed full-time as independent workers, only that they derive some income from that source. McKinsey has found that a majority of the independent workforce is made up of people who participate in it for supplemental income. Of course, some may regard independent work as a more permanent income stream. Whatever the motivations, the trend is clear: the gig economy is expanding. And whether you join their ranks or not, they will be your competition.

To be sure, there are challenges for gig workers, especially those who rely on the income.

Lack of income security is the most obvious risk. Someone who isn’t working isn’t making money. Perhaps the biggest downside is that independent workers face gaps in health care, pension, unemployment insurance, and other benefits. There is also the risk that project-based work undervalues independent workers and their full package of skills.

For all its shortcomings, however, the gig economy offers some very attractive upsides. It offers flexibility and autonomy. The work is diverse and offers opportunities to network with people in other industries, which could open doors to future job prospects. Hate your job? McKinsey reports that those who choose to be free agents are more satisfied than those who work in traditional jobs and that about 25% of the people who hold traditional jobs would prefer to be independent workers.

Adapting Is Key

The increased prevalence of digital technology will lead to new job functions and categories – but also to shortages of people with the skills needed to fill those roles. Research firm, Gartner, reports that “…talent has now been recognized globally as the single biggest issue standing in the way of CIOs achieving their objectives. The biggest talent gaps are around information — big data, analytics, and information management — followed by business knowledge/acumen.” (Gartner) The Boston Consulting Group forecasts that nearly every organizational role will eventually require the use of sophisticated technology. In the face of such radical change in the job environment, staying competitive means adapting. Companies and individuals alike will need to invest in massive, ongoing skills development.

For you, staying competitive might also mean leveraging the power of the virtual workplace to live in a city with a lower cost of living while working remotely for a company headquartered elsewhere. Constant upskilling will be imperative, and so will be an openness to new attitudes and work styles. Above all, workers must view changes in the workplace as an opportunity to envision how the new environment can shape their careers in satisfying ways.

Older Workers Have an Edge

In many ways, older professionals are well situated to benefit from the changes that the digital age will usher in. Their professional confidence and veteran experience make them much more desirable to employers looking for reliable, quality work. Older professionals who demonstrate an ability to obtain new skills, especially digital skills, will be in high demand. This will be true whether you are a full-time employee or a temporary consultant for a short-term project.

When it comes to the gig economy, the financial situation of older workers, which is generally more stable than that of young people, will afford them more flexibility to weather income fluctuations. And because work-life balance is more important to older workers, the ability to control their own schedule is very attractive, even if it comes at a financial cost. Independent work can also be useful as a life preserver for older professionals transitioning from one job to another or for those scaling back their careers but who aren’t ready for retirement.

With such major changes on the horizon, even senior professionals in stable corporate jobs should consider developing at least one side stream of income to enhance their career and themselves, according to an article in Harvard Business Review (Hustle). Author Dorie Clark argues that, if nothing else, a side gig is a hedge against uncertainty, enables you to learn new skills, builds your network, enhances your brand and, of course, grows your income.

Whether you call this work model freelancing, contract or contingent work, or “alternative work arrangement,” you must also call it the future of work. While it can be unsettling to have to re-learn how to be competitive in the digital age, adapting to the change is the best way to position yourself for success and is the key to shaping your career in the most satisfying way possible.

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Career Change Lessons

Explore Your Career Change

The vast majority (around 80%) of our clients each year are unhappily employed, the rest are out of work for one reason or another.

Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at the Barrett Group

Most clients are looking to leave their current job… but many are looking for relief in their current situation: the boss from hell; political negativities; uncertainty resulting from a merger or acquisition; glass ceiling with zero room for advancement; lack of raises beyond cost of living adjustments; feeling under utilized or undervalued; looking to telecommute when it is not the norm; and various unsustainable challenges with no relief in sight.

Those who are out of work, feel quite alone in their search. They may feel embarrassed due to their situation and lack of financial contribution to their families. Many are sitting home applying to endless jobs on the internet and getting nowhere. They reach to 3rd party recruiters who treat them terribly or feel totally ignored.

About 25% of The Barrett Group’s (TBG) clients achieve success by doing a better job of dealing with third party recruiters and job postings.

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The truth is that recruiters get pounded every day with dozens of job seekers (yes dozens) who want to take them out for coffee or expect them to spend their time helping them to find a job. Those job seekers mistakenly think it is the recruiter’s job to place them. As many TBG employees are former recruiters or executives who have hired recruiters in the past to fill open positions. This allows us to expertly coach our clients on how to motivate a recruiter to work set up interviews on your behalf.

Many individuals spend hours applying to job postings. Not only is it frustrating, but is ineffective. We know how to make sure your application is read by an actual human being and not just a computer. We know how to customize each resume and cover letter so the system or person in charge of screening applications will be highly motivated to speak with each and every client. We help our clients to build a library of different resume and cover letter versions so that the reader will perceive each client as deserving of an interview.

Some 25% of our clients achieve success by leveraging their reputation to gain advocacy, political referrals and nomination for unpublished opportunities through their LinkedIn social networks.

Most new clients have LinkedIn profile, but severely lack understanding on how to tap into the unpublished market via LinkedIn. Most new clients also spend the majority of their time on LinkedIn’s job board. They fail to realize that 90% of the hiring on LinkedIn is done covertly by people who leverage their reputation and people looking to hire them do not post jobs, they search for individuals with the background and skills they need. Every year we have dozens of client who land the perfect job due to the learnings we provide. It is amazing.

Another 25% of our clients achieve success because we help them to grow their network with very little effort on their part.

We know our clients are busy so we identify send introductions to individuals working at specific companies in targeted geographic areas and industries. We do all the work: We research and identify the individuals, author the introductions, print, sign and process introductions. We pay for postage, we send a confidential packet to each approved recipient. We coach our clients on the nuances of how to make a 2 minute phone call to inquire about the recipients interest in networking or employment. Even the busiest person has time for a short phone call.

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Are you in a midlife career change? Are you changing careers at 30, 40 or 50 years of age? Do you need a new career? If you are currently experiencing difficulty in your job search, we’re here to help. Please send a message with your information or call.

1(800)304-4473

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