11
August
How To Find a Job in 2015

How to find a job in 2015

Social media, blogs and jobsites are disrupting the recruitment sector and making searching for new work a full time job. But don’t neglect the old ways – they can still pay off, writes Ben Potter on AFR.com

David Fallon had just turned 50 when he was made redundant from his job as a training superintendent at BHP Billiton’s Yandi iron ore mine in the Pilbara in March.

It was worrying – the electrical tradesman’s background was mostly in iron ore – and demoralising. He thought they had achieved a lot.

“You go through a period of panic. ‘Goodness me, I am 50 years old, who wants to recruit me?’”

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, an outplacement firm hired by BHP encouraged him to treat it as an opportunity to work out how he wanted the “home stretch” of his career to pan out and develop a plan to achieve that.

That meant embracing something he had limited experience of – social media. Fallon had long wanted to move to the oil and gas industry, which he saw as recession-proof. He had a basic LinkedIn account and was encouraged to upgrade to Platinum, at a cost of $49 a month, for the job search.

That enabled him to see who was looking at his profile. The consultants coached him to look for companies he might like to work for, scroll through LinkedIn to find staffers to approach, and drop them a line.

If nothing came of it, he was to ask if they could point him to someone who might help. He found that hard, but was amazed at how readily people would do so. He was discouraged from applying for jobs until he was sure his CV was 100 per cent right for each role.

CHANGED RECRUITMENT

Social media and the internet’s endless capacity to aggregate, slice and dice markets have changed recruitment. There used to be only three avenues to a job – an ad in the paper, an agency or word of mouth. That’s now fragmented.

The market is more transparent. People have to put themselves on LinkedIn and choose to post on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. They canvas general jobs boards like Seek.com and Indeed, and specialised ones like etax.com.au and efinancialcareers.com.au. Large employers have their own jobs pages and are doing more recruiting in-house.

Then there’s EthicalJobs.com.au, where earnest applicants seek worthy employers, TheLoop.com.au – “Australia’s largest professional creative community” – and professionalmums.net, for mothers returning to work.

This has its own challenges. On LinkedIn, trawling for endorsements, polishing the CV or outing oneself as “looking for opportunities” can be rash or desperate. Showing too much of your fun side on Facebook or Instagram can put off employers.

Still, agencies no longer hold all the cards.

Right Management, the outplacement firm used by BHP, surveys the people it helps find new jobs after they’ve been laid off. Its clients are typically in their late 30s to late 50s and earn $100,000 to $300,000.

More than half still find new jobs the old ways – 32 per cent via traditional networking, 18 per cent via agencies and 13 per cent through newspapers and periodicals.

Another 21 per cent find success via internet jobs boards, 9 per cent are recruited directly by employers, and only 1 per cent find jobs via online networking.

OPPORTUNITY TO REBOOT

Many people tumble into careers, spend more time planning their annual leave than their careers, and wake up in their mid-30s and ask ‘How did I get here?’, says Tim Roche, careers practice leader at Right Management. Being made redundant can be an opportunity to reboot, he says.

Fallon landed a similar job to his old one at oil-and-gas group Chevron before his BHP contract had expired. He didn’t have to sacrifice his low $200,000s salary and was happy to be back in Perth after eight years as a fly-in-fly-out worker in the Pilbara.

Not every 50-something job-seeker lands on their feet.

Traditional channels still matter – even for younger job-seekers.

Last spring, David Glanz, 27, decided it was time to chuck in his job at top-tier law firm King & Wood Mallesons for one that involved more business decision-making.

He went about the task like a methodical lawyer. He asked friends who had made similar moves what resources they had used, which websites and keywords brought the best results, and which had the best CV templates.

His first port of call was to look up the jobs board on LinkedIn, Seek and Indeed to see what openings his profile would trigger.

But Glanz also contacted legal recruitment agency Mahlab, and Hays, a giant global agency.

PUT FEELERS OUT

“I thought it was important to put your feelers out and get across all the platforms, whether that’s physically meeting with a recruiter, going online and checking the jobs boards, or speaking with friends to see whether they know anyone who is looking to fill a role through word of mouth,” Glanz tells AFR Weekend.

“However you can get it out there helps your chances of knowing what roles are going on and might even open some doors to opportunities you didn’t even think of.”

Some truisms – cover as many bases as you can and do your homework – still hold too.

Glanz scanned several online jobs boards because he figured potential employers might use only one. He spoke to Mahlab because they offer some jobs exclusively. Mahlab helped him figure out where his interests and strengths lay, and what roles might play to them – including non-legal ones he might not have considered.

They helped him to find a job as a corporate counsel at enterprise software giant SAP. The process took about six months. The job is still a legal one but is closer to where he wants to be.

“You are already working with the commercial guys, you are across their specific decision-making, you are involved in those decisions as they are trying to put the deal together, rather than executing the legal document once that deal has already been formed,” he says.

In-house recruiters at firms like Telstra and Foster’s are busy cutting the agencies’ lunch. Big-four accountants have revolutionised their recruiting.

McGregor Dixon, Oceania talent leader at EY, says the firm gets about half its hires through its own jobs board and internet jobs boards such as Seek.com, etax.com.au, efinancialcareers.com.au and professionalmums.net. Ten per cent come through in-house recruiters, who track talent, call targets and develop relationships.

INTERNAL REFERRALS

Another fifth come from internal referrals, for which staff are financially rewarded. These are a great success. A fantastic employee who understands the business is more likely to spot a similar person who is also a good fit, Dixon says.

Another successful source of recruits is “boomerangs” – former staffers or partners who tried elsewhere and found the grass wasn’t greener after all. Having decided to come back, they are motivated. Many joined as graduates.

“It’s a bit of spiritual home,” Dixon says. This has led to a culture change. People who leave are no longer treated as quislings. “We acknowledge that people are not going to spend their entire careers with us,” he says. Instead, they keep in touch.

Ali McLeod left EY after four years as a recruitment manager to join ANZ Banking Group for a great opportunity. Eight months later her old boss took her to dinner and offered her a new job with more responsibility. EY had restructured, and Australia was part of Oceania.

McLeod also realised she missed her friends at the firm, the collaboration and working with partners who own the business. Such attractions seem to be more obvious from the outside.

Competition for good people is intense. Branding and recruitment appeal are now “core competencies” and talent sourcing is basically in-house, Dixon says. But they still use agencies for specialised hires or sensitive targets – such as former partners.

Six years at rival firm PwC punctuated audit and consulting partner Scott Ward’s career at EY. He returned last September, after a phone call from a headhunter led to a coffee with new chief executive Tony Johnson. He “learned a truckload” at PwC but his work had narrowed and he faced a constant scramble for the next consulting job. EY allowed him to combine “annuity” audit work and consulting.

“The joke was when I first came back [that] I’d just been on secondment to PwC for six years, and now it feels like I have never been gone.”

 

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