We hear the economy is good and job growth is strong but there are a lot of people facing layoffs. What do you see among those who are contacting you looking for work?
Many people are coming to me having been laid off recently or within the last year. These layoffs are hitting everyone, not just the tech industry. People in marketing and creative roles are also being culled from struggling budgets.
Employees who used to be indispensable are now considered “redundant.” Some companies are holding off on hiring contractors and outsourcing projects due to uncertain budgets. They prefer to find just about anyone in their company who can wear another hat and has limited skills to complete the work rather than hire qualified candidates.
How do people handle layoffs differently at different ages?
There really is very little difference in how people in general handle a layoff. It’s incredibly disconcerting and disorienting.
People of all ages are nervous, scared, even angry. Emotions are high, and laid-off employees are shocked, desperate, and sometimes ready to rumble at the slightest provocation.
I will say, younger people do bounce back more easily in attitude, taking in stride their circumstances, perhaps because they know they have time on their side and in some cases the ability to move back in with their parents.
More mature workers, highly qualified, may start out thinking it will be okay but shortly find out about the pervasive age bias that exist across hiring channels and become less positive about their future prospects.
What are the most challenging things for those looking to get back into the job market?
The number of highly qualified people looking for work and businesses afraid to spend money on new employees.
Post pandemically, the desire to work from home has greatly increased. However, many companies still want at least some onsite collaboration. So if you have decided you’ll never step foot in an office again, you are decreasing your chances of finding work.
For younger adults? Having just left college or joined the workforce, employers see these workers as not having the experience, EQ and business acumen necessary for many jobs and are passed over for people in “the middle” of their careers.
For older adults? Having been on the job market for many years, these workers aren’t fitting into the exclusively younger culture vibe most companies are so proud of and are constantly told they are over-qualified (age bias) for roles they are most definitely and absolutely qualified for and to which they would bring a different perspective.
What do employers want these days on resumes?
You have less than 30 seconds to capture a potential employer’s attention with your resume, so it better be great, easy to read, clear and concise. There are definitely some tricks to get people to read some of the most important information they will judge you on.
Employers want to see your top skills quickly so keep your summary short (3 sentences), below that add a list of professional skills, under that a list of technical software skills and certifications and then your experience and lastly your education.
By bulleting your professional and software skills you’re giving an employer a quick way to see if you’ve got what it takes to do the job, but then support those points in your experience section. Education comes last. From what I’ve seen, it doesn’t seem to be as important as it used to be. Experience now speaks volumes.
Another option is to create a “left rail” to your resume. The left-hand side of anything is where a reader’s eye goes first. Capture them here with your contact info, professional skills and tech skills/certifications. You can put your education at the bottom of this. On the right-hand side of the page (which will be slightly wider than the left) list your experience. A synopsis of the role and no more than 3 to 4 bullets of info under each position. Do put dates here. Employers want to know how long you were with these companies. No dates is a red flag.
If you’ve been working for more than 15 years, do not, I repeat DO NOT put how many years you’ve been working in your summary. Unfortunately, all this does is date you and no longer signifies value for anyone. Also, leave off any experience that goes back further than 15 years. The world has changed drastically in that amount of time and so have you. Nothing that far back is currently relevant. If you feel you must show something in this category, create another section under Experience, labeled Additional Experience. In this section, list your employer and role ONLY. Do not include dates or details.
ALWAYS have someone else that knows you and someone who does not, look over your resume and give you feedback. It’s darn near impossible to present ourselves well without objective opinions.
This goes for any online portfolio you may have. Keep navigation simple, keep your work easy to view. Highlight your talent, not how cool your site is with crazy colors, images and the like. Again, you only have a few seconds here to capture someone’s attention. If they can’t quickly find what they’re looking for, they will literally leave without looking at anything.
Do you have advice for people who say screw it, I’m going out on my own?
If you have a financial safety net and can support yourself for at least a year or more, you may want to consider this route. However, you have to be realistic.
First, do your research, ensure there’s a market for what you want to sell, whether it’s a service or a product. Write a business plan, know your demographic, talk to an accountant and check to see what’s being said on social media in terms of consumer opinions.
If you are feeling stuck, undervalued or dissatisfied with your work, it may be time to change your career. But keep your day job and pursue your dream from a place of security. Figure out what brings you joy, check out what careers are taking off, take some classes (there’s tons online), get some new software training, rewrite your resume and PIVOT.
Disclaimer: Wendy Golden is a recruiter for Creative Circle. All of this is based on her opinions and experience, not on research, interviews or economic driven data.