I took a random phone call this morning from the owner of a small family business who was desperate in trying to employ the right person for a great opportunity within their business. She had found me on the internet and anfortunately I had to apologise that I was not a recruitment or employment agency, but she was thinking outside the square and thought that just maybe, as I worked in the field of HR (broadly) and did career coaching I just might be a long shot and have the candidate for her or know where she could find one. Why did she ring me?? She said she had tried ‘for ages’ advertising in all sorts of mediums, including Gumtree, and has also used some of the well-known large employment agencies but with no success – they have been sending her the wrong type of candidates so clearly focussing on solving their problems rather than hers. I could hear the frustration and pain in her voice – she has a great opportunity and is looking for someone to train up into this very interesting role alongside the very competent person who is currently doing the job. He is a fantastic employee, has been with them a long time and has had job offers from competitors, but she knows it makes good sense to have an understudy who will be keen and interested to make the job their own and provide stability for the business.
After I spoke with her, it suddenly occurred to me that once it was easy to connect candidates with opportunities – you either read the Positions Vacant in the paper or looked on Seek or CareerOne and bingo! Or, for more specialised or senior roles, you might use a recruiter. Now, both candidates and businesses alike are having to advertise and look everywhere in the hope that they just manage to connect somehow with the opportunity! It’s like looking for a needle in not just one, but a paddock full of haystacks! For both parties, it’s hoping that the needle hasn’t rusted away or the haystack blown away before you find it.
In providing career coaching to myriads of individuals who are in career transition, of course it’s now crucial to open their eyes to the enormous number of ways that an employer might advertise an opportunity. They often find it overwhelming, particularly if they have not been in the job market before or for a long time, and whilst not every individual will need to factor in every advertising mechanism into their job search, they need to have a fairly comprehensive strategy to make sure they are not inadvertently missing out on key opportunities. In addition, there are an increasing number of ways via technology platforms and apps that candidates can promote their profiles to potential future employers which again adds to the tenuous nature of connecting with the right target market. Many disciplines have begun to narrow down to certain platforms and so the key is to know what is the go-to one for the type of work you are looking for or opportunity you have to advertise. For instance, Facebook has become a common one for some occupations or fields of work such as freelance audio engineering, stage and road crew and is also often used in regional areas for employers to post vacancies. So it helps to ‘get in the know’ for your industry or region, whether you are a person looking for work or you are an employer looking for an employee.
If there is one theme that, to me, continues to present itself across both employees and employers in this age of disruption it is to not wait until you are looking for an opportunity or an employee, but to at least keep in touch with the trends in your industry or regional area and that generally means tapping into your network and monitoring, even in a cursory sense, the changes on the landscape. The disruption is not slowing down as research of disruption and fragmentation or disaggregation shows.
My heart went out to this poor woman this morning – how frustrating to have an opportunity yet to find it so difficult to tap into the right avenue to find potential candidates. She may have been unaware, but making contact with me was a good step because, as the research demonstrates, weak ties are generally where the opportunities come from and she has now tapped into a whole new group of connections just by contacting me.
Christine Cox is an experienced career coach and HR consultant. Contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org