Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Discerning the 21st century workforce – preparing to succeed in it – 3

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on May 30, 2011

This is my third installment in a series on the changing nature of the workforce and on how that has to affect job search best practices (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, supplemental postings 22 and 23 for parts 1 and 2.) I started this series with a discussion of how fundamental, structural changes are taking place in the marketplace, the workplace and the work force, that will persist long term as more cyclical shifts come and go (see Part 1.) I then went on to lay a foundation for developing best practices for responding to this set of challenges in a job search, and in career development and management in general (see Part 2.) And I finished Part 2 with a fundamentally important set of points, that I would pick up from as a starting point here:

• If employers have been slow to hire, part of this is due to cyclical factors and reluctance to take risk, coming out of a recession and with a still uncertain marketplace and economy.
• But a significant collateral factor here is that while these employers may see coming structural changes, and in what they need to do and in who they need to have in-house to do it – they may face a great deal of uncertainty as to who they need as full time employees and with what skills.
• They are trying to re-imagine the marketplace and their employment requirements just as potential applicants are trying to discern what employability will entail moving forward.

Ultimately, this is all about risk management. When an employer hires an in-house employee, they accept a learning curve period while that employee comes up to speed for working in their system, and even if they expect their new hire to be fully up to date on all of the more technical and hands-on aspects of their new job. They may have the requisite skills and experience but they still need to be set up and connected into all relevant IT systems, learn their way around the table of organization and the business’ processes and procedures and learn their way around at least the high points of its basic corporate culture. And their new manager has to take time from his or her busy schedule to help with their side of this effort to bring this new hire on board, and people from HR have to contribute to, as do others. And if this new hire stays more than a minimum probationary period they will be set up for benefits and become eligible for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) coverage in the event they are terminated (COBRA in the United States with many other countries offering similar or analogous post-severance benefits options too.)

When a new hire is taken on, expenses are too, and if this does not work out for any reason these expenses do not in general get recouped. So businesses need to both hire the right people, and hire to the right positions that they can cost-effectively and productively maintain on their table of organization.

And at the same time these same businesses do need to get all essential tasks done, and according to realistic, productive schedules. So people are needed, and frequently there are needs that would best be addressed by bringing in extra pairs of hands.

• So the bullet points above boil down to questions of cost-effectiveness and uncertainty in balancing potential benefits gained against costs incurred, with added uncertainty as to the cost effectiveness of prioritizing the work tasks in question high enough to be addressed now.
• A job seeker in this context should have a goal of helping the prospective hiring company shift the benefits/uncertainties balance in favor of bringing at least one more person on board.
• And the balance of this posting is going to address that, and on negotiating a hiring solution that would appear to the hiring business as increasing benefits obtained while reducing expenses and risk.

Think outside of the standard full time hire pattern and the more routine onboarding process for a new full time hire. I would give this advice to prospective hiring managers and to the people of their HR department and I would offer this same exact advice to prospective job candidates too.

My next installment in this series is going to examine and discuss this concluding point, fleshing it out from both the job seeker’s and business’ perspectives. I will outline one possible approach to meeting mutual needs for the two sides of any interview table, as a working example.

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