“Retraining” is a buzzword in today’s economy, but why?
Personal computers, automation, and the internet were game changers. Advancements in information technology created new industries, eliminated or downsized others, and changed the way we do business forever.
Because of this, many of us naturally assumed that the future of skills training (and retraining) meant more computers and more STEM. However, new findings cast doubt on what has been conventional wisdom for two decades, causing some HR professionals to ask: Is more tech and more STEM the answer? And, what skills are the right skills? As an example, let’s look at two industries profoundly affected by advancements in IT: Manufacturing and software development.
A recent survey of manufacturers found that the most sought-after skill for customer service and help desk agents was higher level writing. For technicians on the floor is was higher level reading.
Similarly, for software help desk technicians (the second largest IT position in the country), only 15% of jobs required a deep understanding of actual programming. Again, higher level writing skills were the most sought-after.
In both industries, only one-third of workers required any higher level math skills such as algebra or statistics, demonstrating that skills requirements are not distributed equally across the workforce. That means it is up to employers to design roles that fit the proficiencies of their employees, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to training and retraining initiatives.
So when we talk about training, we have to be sure that we are talking about the right training without making assumptions about what we think our employees need. It turns out that not all training means more computers and STEM.
Recent and upcoming graduates know, first hand, that many “entry level” positions aren’t really entry level – many require some amount of work experience. And for most students the best time to gain that experience is during the summer.
Internships are a great benefit to any resume, but for those who are unable to take an unpaid internship, summer work can provide the same, if not more, benefit, while still allowing you to earn an income. Even if your work experience isn’t as relevant to your desired career as an internship would be (think life guard, camp counselor or painting houses), employers will be intrigued by the skills and experience that you obtained. And since “soft skills” are always in demand, be sure to highlight the things you have learned and your positive attributes by pointing to your accomplishments and by earning recommendations from managers and mentors.
Internships (paid or unpaid) and work experience are the cornerstone of any resume. Whether you favor one or the other isn’t as important as the dedication and ability to learn and grow that you demonstrate to future employers by your willingness to work.
Giraffes are one of nature’s most compelling creatures. Every day, both zoologists and ethologists (scientists who study animal behavior) learn more and more about how they live in both captivity and the wild. Here are some interesting facts about giraffes, and what lessons we can learn from them about being more effective at work:
Be a team player…
Giraffes are believed to be one of nature’s least territorial large animals. Multiple groups (called “towers”) will frequently inhabit the same space in order to share resources and look after calves and pregnant females. These towers often come together to form herds, which can number into the hundreds.
Work well individually AND as part of a team…
Despite their easy-going nature and team-focused social structure, giraffes know when it’s time to go it alone. Smaller towers of giraffes will often split off from the main herd if an area becomes overcrowded or resources begin to become depleted.
Giraffes adapt easily to new challenges to survive in the wild. Herds of giraffes often split, merge and reform, only to do the same with new giraffes shortly thereafter. Giraffes also appear to be less sentimental about their herd-mates than other large herbivores, making it easier for them to form new alliances with new giraffes as needed.
Two takes on searching for jobs during the holidays.
Why to avoid starting your job search in late November and December:
The reasons against applying for positions during the holidays tend to be better known than the reasons you should. The most obvious reason is simply the timing. Hiring managers (just like all people) tend to take time off during the holidays. Less time in the office means less time looking through resumes and scheduling interviews.
A lesser-known reason has to do with most companies’ annual budgeting process. As the year comes to a close, many hiring managers run up against the limitations of departmental budgets. A position that seemed important to fill following Halloween may be ‘rolled over’ into the New Year. End-of-year pressures may make employers less likely to commit to a new hire.
Why you should apply for jobs during late November and December:
The best reason for applying during the holidays is simple: visibility. With less people applying to positions (HR managers do, in fact, report a dip in applications during the holidays), your resume is more likely to stand out. You are also signaling to potential employers that you are serious about finding a job even if your colleagues are busy trimming the tree and sipping eggnog.
End of the year interviews are also the perfect time to get your foot in the door with potential employers. Make a positive impact in December and you may become a company’s first choice in January. Also, with holiday parties, volunteer opportunities and various community events, the holidays are the perfect time to expand your network.
Despite the real or imagined headwinds faced by job seekers in November and December, one should keep in mind that making your next, best career move is an all year round opportunity.
by Ben Horwitz, Communications Director, JobGiraffe
As a job seeker, working with a recruiting and staffing professional can be a rewarding and enlightening experience. Recruiters can give you access to a wealth of jobs that are never posted publicly, while at the same time help guide you to the right position. Recruiters, in this sense, are your advocate or coach. Because of this, interviewing with a recruiter is not the same experience as interviewing with a potential employer. You aren’t trying to get your foot in the door of an organization, you are supplying the consultant with the information they need to go to bat for you by marketing you to their clients.
Here are the top five things that every recruiter will want to know about you
One: Tell me about your education. All of it.
Sometimes you’re an Accounting major looking for an accounting job. However, you never know when your familiarity with Classical Portuguese Literature is going to come in handy. You may have applied to a position that, on the surface, has little to do with your major, but a good consultant knows that every area of education comes with its own unique set of skills. History major? A consultant can talk about your research skills and attention to detail. Philosophy? Your analytical skills and ability to think outside the box. Econ? You’ve probably got some pretty decent math skills.
The point is, consultants know jobs, and they know what skills, traits and experiences are necessary to a particular role. Even if you never received a degree, your education has armed you with skills, knowledge and experience that our clients will want to know about.
Two: What are your skills and experience?
Every company does things a little bit differently, so be sure to tell your recruiter all the unique softwares, systems, certifications and experiences you have accumulated. These pieces of information form the bedrock of what companies are looking for in new hires. Also, since recruiting and staffing professionals frequently work to fill more than one open position at a given time, they can use your skills and experiences to “shop” you around to their clients. Who knows…they may know the exact company looking for your exact set of skills for a project or position.
Three: What’s your work history? More so, what’s your story?
When it comes to recruiters, you’re the product – and every good salesman needs to know what they are selling. Aside from your education, skills and experience, a good recruiter will want to know a bit of your story. In short, what makes you you? This will help them find you a company where you would be a good cultural fit, explain any prolonged absences from the workforce (due to school, family emergency or whatever!), and find you a position with a company that will not only advance your career, but also share your values.
Four: Why did you leave your previous positions? How are your references?
Chances are there is a reason you are looking for a new job. Things happen, and that’s ok! But be sure never to lie or “massage” your resume to make it look like you have more experience than you actually do. If we think we know the right position and company for you, it’s much better if we have a complete, accurate picture of your work history. That way we know what to highlight and what to smooth over or explain to a client. If there are past employers you think will give you a glowing reference, tell us, even if that person comes from outside the industry you are looking to move in to. We want you to get hired (it’s how we get paid), so think of us like a partner, not an obstacle or gatekeeper.
Five: What are you looking for in your next position? In your career??
Culture, values, hours, salary, benefits, location, room for growth? All of these play a role in your job search. We need to know your priorities so that we can send you to the right client. Many recruiting and staffing agencies even include a “refund period” on their candidates, so if you walk away from the job after one week, we have to find someone new for our client and a new opportunity for you. It’s simply not enough for us to find you any job; we need to find you the right job. One way to do that is by learning from your past decisions.
We know jobs and we know our clients. What we need to learn more about is you!
Tune in next week to learn the top five questions that you should be asking every recruiter.