How to Build a Long-Term Career Strategy in a Red Hot (for now) Market

January 18, 2022
By Board Member and Cushman Associates President Judith Cushman
How to Build a Long-Term Career Strategy in a Red Hot (for now) Market

The career challenges we are confronting are new and we are in the midst of finding solutions. The “New Normal” is not normal, but it is new. The most significant shift is that the job seeker is in the driver’s seat and the temptation to make a quick move for more money and short-term gains is tremendous. My advice is to be prepared for a marketplace where offers are made in a matter of weeks.

Decide On Long-Term Goals Before Launching Your Job Search

An old Chinese proverb warns, “Be careful what you wish for, lest it comes true.” That truth definitely applies to today’s job market.   Before you start to job hunt, before you casually say you are looking to your closest friends, decide what you really want in your next position and if what you are looking for will meet your mid-to long-term goals.

For example, I recall a start-up craze over 15 years ago where many mid-career professionals jumped to young, about-to-go-public companies. A few years later when many of these startups went belly-up, these pros were on the street trying to pick up where they left off. Unfortunately, by then jobs were hard to find and they had no career achievements to point to.

If you are thinking about making a career move outside of your organization, first decide if you should discuss your career goals and/or special needs with your current employer. Previously, taking the initiative to have this conversation with your employer wasn’t done because it signaled you were looking. Times have changed. Your employer may be relieved to know you are not going to resign without giving the company the opportunity to retain you. If this conversation starts a formal search, feel confident there are sufficient opportunities to consider.

LinkedIn: a tool or a strategy?  

Besides looking for opportunities on LinkedIn, job seekers should pay attention to which categories of jobs are opening up, i.e. Life Sciences, Telecom, Consumer, and which companies in that category are hiring. About now is when the top CorpComm jobs start to appear.

This can be very helpful, as it indicates where you could likely proactively contact not only these organizations but others in that category that are not posting jobs on LinkedIn but may be receptive to a direct message from a job seeker.

If you are a company looking for candidates with experience with niche products, or who have specialized knowledge, you’d do much better spending your time conducting proactive direct research rather than using a mass-market tool like LinkedIn.

Major Work Pattern Shift on the Horizon

Although the New Normal is not normal—it is new and likely to stay hybrid. There will be a major shift in the workforce to find new work patterns which allow for greater flexibility in how work gets done. Managing and supervising people will become much more informal. We will get better and better at knowing when to call a virtual meeting on Zoom and other platforms.

Once we have the pandemic under control, we will gradually reintroduce in-person meetings, but on a much more selective basis. We have learned to get more work done more efficiently and blend business tasks with other obligations. I have seen more pets and more children join online meetings than ever before for brief hellos and no one seems to have any problems with that.

Despite all the changes in how and where we work, remember that there are organizations that remain committed to the in-person model. Top jobs, especially in major companies, are still more company-centric and demanding — but are also more open to hybrid models while the Pandemic is such a threat. This may not be the case once we can safely work onsite. So, if you are searching for a high-level position, you should accept that this is the price to pay for joining. In any case, this is something that should be discussed at the beginning of the interviewing process.

Tips for Making a Job Change

  1. Develop a carefully outlined plan about what you are looking for and for what reasons. Focus specific opportunities that will enhance your career.
  2. Pay attention to major job posting services—LinkedIn, Indeed, etc. Instead of applying where everyone is applying, look for companies in your chosen category where there is activity. Apply directly to those companies. You may be among a small group of 10 versus 50 applying via LinkedIn
  3. If you want to broaden your industry experience—this is the time to negotiate accepting a job where that is part of the terms leading to your acceptance. Are there additional skill sets you’d like to develop? Are there are other issues you wish to discuss?
  4. Now is the time to negotiate for special perks in lieu of salary, e.g., special training, flex time, assignments in new areas to broaden marketability, additional paid leave, special educational learning.

About Judith Cushman

Judith Cushman is president of Judith Cushman & Associates. She was so well-connected, one PR pro called her “the grande dame of PR recruiters” and said, “her desk must groan under the weight of that Rolodex.” A Business Insider Magazine article about the top 15 recruiters noted, “It’s also competitive to work with her. She said she only takes on three clients at a time to ensure the quality of her work. In the 25 years running Cushman, she has hired candidates for both Fortune 500 companies and agencies.”

Cushman thinks outside the box when it comes to hiring. For example, when a life sciences company asked her to find a head of corporate and financial communications, she avoided search engines like LinkedIn, where there were more than 40 open positions for this kind of role at competitors. Instead, she tracked other companies in the market, pouring over investor statements and press releases to find the best spokespeople. From that pool, she pulled candidates from diverse backgrounds and filled the role after a six-week search.

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