If you’re currently unemployed and seeking
employment you can easily empathize with the title of this months column.
unemployment rate today in the United States is officially at 8.2%.
Although down from a high of a reported 12% the reality is it is
actually around 18%. The variance in the percentages is the way the
government gathers its’ unemployment information. If one is claiming
unemployment benefits then they are counted among the unemployed. But
what about those individuals who have exhausted their benefits and are
no longer eligible to collect a check? Or the independent contactors who
were never eligible to collect unemployment? And what about the
unemployed who were denied eligibility because their employers protested
their claim, they were terminated for cause, or the employers never
subscribed to and paid the unemployment tax? And let’s not forget those
proprietors and partners who have shuttered their doors during the last
six years and were also never eligible for unemployment benefits.
Perhaps we should consider increasing that unemployment number to 25% or
higher. And in Europe the numbers are even greater depending on the
One only has to
look at the number of on-line job forums that have been created on
social networks such as Facebook and Linked-In to understand the
enormity of the world-wide unemployment situation. The irony is that if
one looks at the employment web sites; Monster, Career Builder,
Account Temps, etc., it would appear at first glance that
companies have plenty of openings available and job fulfillment is just
a mouse click away. A closer look however draws suspicion about the
number of positions really
available as the same positions appear on multiple sites and in many
cases those positions are highlighted as new openings month after
month on several of these web sites. Adding to the frustration of job
seekers is that many of these employment sites appear more interested in
selling additional services to the unemployed, who now have limited
resources, than providing them employment opportunities.
training division reports that companies have not only down sized many
of their operating departments but they have also instructed their
managers to find ways to maintain and improve performance levels with
fewer staff. We have
partnered with a number associations to provide alternative training
programs through various channels until training is once again included
in the operating budget.
Based on the
aforementioned forums and unsolicited resumes we receive on a daily
basis It would appear, in the credit profession, there are far more
applicants than there are available positions. Sadly, among all the
resumes we receive we cannot identify any particular one that stands out
from all the rest. They all tend to read the same as if they were
produced from one generic template. Add to that the number of credit
professionals over the age of 50 who are unprepared to enjoy the “golden
years” of retirement and their difficulty in convincing employers that
they still are a valuable asset to the organization.
In the game of
baseball, teams are composed of position players, i.e. pitcher, first
baseman, left fielder, and utility players, i.e. player who can
substitute for a position player and are skilled to play several
positions well. In today’s employment environment, the unemployed credit
professional should consider reinventing themselves from the position
player to the utility player. This required a change to their strategy
for finding employment opportunities if they plan to succeed in finding
new employment quickly.
There is a
distinct advantage the credit professional has over other professionals
seeking employment opportunities. That advantage is the credit
professional has experience in other areas of operations. Whereas a
sales professional may have the ability to sell, the true credit
professional is knowledgeable not only in credit and collections but
also in sales, customer care, billing, distribution, accounting, and
operations. The unemployed credit professional should use all of this
experience to their advantage when seeking new employment. Rather then
seek and apply for a particular position, credit or collections,
they should investigate and find out what positions the
prospective employer has a need to fill and apply for those positions,
require that they toss aside the old boiler plate resume and create one
that that focuses on the accomplishments of not only working with other
departments but achieving company rather than individual or department
goals. It will also require a whole different method to seeking
employment. One current method of seeking a new opportunity is to
contact those friends and associates in our profession to assist us in
finding leads. Another method is to subscribe to job forums that are
specialized in our profession and also send out resumes to HR
departments and employment sites seeking employment in our specific area
of expertise. Sadly, we are among thousands of others doing the same
thing and more often than not obtaining the same negative results.
method used for finding new employment has been accomplished through
either search firms or the Internet. The application and resume process,
whether directly with the hiring organization or through a search
company, has been transmitted via email or the web with very little
personal contact until the search firm or employer is intrigued enough
by the applicant’s credentials that an interview is arranged. The
majority of the time the applicant never hears back from either the
search firm or the company once their resume has been submitted. The
reason for this is that through this impersonal web process the search
firm or employer has been able to design a series of filters to ensure
that only a minimum of application/resumes survive the gauntlet they
have created to screen the information provided and they never see the
majority of applicants’ resumes. Unfortunately, this filtering process
has eliminated many qualified candidates from any consideration for
positions they are qualified to fill.
It is seldom
possible to penetrate and beat the gauntlet they have created, for in
order to do so one would have to know the perimeters that have been
created within these systems and not all systems are the same. The only
way to beat them is to employ a different tactic.
professionals know that information is essential to not only making
sound credit decisions but also in completing the sale, collecting what
is owed. Information is knowledge and information will lead to success
in finding new employment.
The first thing
we should do is stop sending our information to people who either can’t
or are not inclined to help us. Working friends and acquaintances are
generally more determined in holding on to their positions than helping
us find a new one. The second thing we need to identify is what industry
we want to work in. The majority of us have worked in different
industries not because we liked the industry but because the
opportunities existed in those industries for us to grow in our
profession. Changing positions did not necessarily occur in the same
industry. There were industries we enjoyed working in more than others.
As the utility player we need to decide what industry we want to be in
where we can best utilize our skills. So when we are seeking employment
it should be in an industry we enjoy working in. To paraphrase
Confucius, “Choose an industry you love and you will never work a day
in your life”.
Once we have
found the industry then we can narrow the field to the companies within
that industry and again there is a selection to be made. Do we want a
position with the industry leaders or do we want a position with a
smaller firm or perhaps suppliers to the firms in the industry?
Once we have
identified the industry and the companies then we need to gather all the
information we can about those companies and what they do. Information
includes company history, the management team, their customers, their
product and/or service, where they are located, and most important,
their business plan.
Armed with this
information we’re now prepared to create a resume that will compliment
the identified companies history and business plan with our skills, work
experience, education, and accomplishments. The next step is to set up
an appointment with a senior manager, preferably in operations or sales.
We want to avoid human resources whenever possible. When asked what the
meeting is about we should tell them we want to present a new product or
service. This is not a lie because what we are presenting is us.
I want to make
it clear here that this is a sales call and what we are selling is our
skills and services for whatever position the organization has available
that we are qualified to fill.
This is not a
new concept but rather a throw back to the way companies used to hire
its employees before they began hiring “specialists”. Prior to the
1970’s applicants applied for a position with a company in person. The
applicant did not know what position they were applying for just that
the company had a positions to fill. Upon interviewing the applicant and
based on the applicants education, background, work history, and most
importantly, personal characteristics, the company would hire the
applicant and decide where the applicant would be best suited in the
organization by having the applicant work in several departments they
were qualified for. The applicant began their career where the
organization decided they were best suited, not where the applicant
wanted to work, and then based on the employees performance, aptitude,
and desire, the employee had the opportunity to grow in the
organization. An example is Bob Crandall the former CEO of American
Airlines. He began his career in 1960 as a credit supervisor, he then
moved on to computer programming, worked in marketing and sales, and
eventually ended up in finance before being selected for executive
process changed in the mid-seventies when management consulting
companies convinced management it was more efficient to hire people for
positions where they already had experience. The drawback was that
although new employees knew how to do a specific job, they lacked the
information about the company or industry culture that would make them
successful at the job they were hired for in that organization. This led
to departments being compartmentalized and contributed to the breakdown
in internal communications.
method of presenting our credentials in the industry we want to work in
and as a utility player, gives us the advantage of applying for several
positions within the organization. A personal visit gives operational
managers the ability to evaluate not only on our experience but also our
character and personality, something that cannot be evaluated through an
application form on a website.
credit professional is both innovative and creative. We need to utilize
these attributes to get us back into the ranks of the employed.
I Wish You
David Balovich is an author, credit consultant, educator, and public
can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Creditworthy website.