Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Using social media as job search and career development business analysis resources 8: career timeframes and career development 3

This is my eighth installment to a series on the points of intersection between business intelligence and its gathering, and social media and related interactive online channels as sources of actionable information and insight, as they can be applied to job search and career development (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 397 and following for Parts 1-7.)

There are two fundamentally distinct if still related sides to this overall topic of discussion:

• What we are job seekers and career builders can learn about the businesses that we might consider working with,
• And what hiring managers and others there can learn online and through social media about us as they consider us too.

Up until here I have been focusing on the first of these complex sets of issues and I will do so again in this posting too, with this final discussion of that side of this series. Then, as repeatedly promised I will switch directions and begin to more systematically discuss what we share online about ourselves and how that can and does impact upon our job and career efforts.

Social media is by definition, interactive. And that means information and insight and the foundation material that can create judgment and opinion out of it all flow in both directions: all the time and always, and persistently – what others post and what we ourselves post stays there and stays findable and visible long-term. But as noted here I focus in this series installment on what potential and current employers say about themselves, and on what can be learned about them through business analysis research of online social media sources. And my focus of attention here is on how a position that might be applied for at a business is viewed there, as fitting into its overall systems.

• Is a job that you might apply for, or have already applied for more directed towards the hiring business’ core capabilities and towards fulfilling its hiring needs for creating and providing its products and services, and for fulfilling its mission?
• Or is it more of a support position, and more peripheral to that?

In an increasingly ubiquitously interactively connected context, supporting and non-core positions are increasingly seen as cost center positions, rather than as value creating ones. And they are increasingly more readily and more cost-effectively outsourced or even automated than ever before too. And if they are retained in-house, there is generally going to be much less perceived need to expand headcount or range of activity in those non-core, non-essentially in-house business areas. So there is going to be less room if any, for advancement within those lines on the table of organization, at least there – and greater opportunity for anyone working there to be stereotyped as only offering value in one limited work performance niche there too So these positions can be both less secure, and more difficult to switch out of while working with any single employer.

Look for these types of possibilities, and on both sides of the core value creating versus non-core support position divide, in your jobs and careers business intelligence gathering. And seek out the information that you would need for this area of your basic jobs and career due diligence in all channels you pursue for gathering this range of data and insight: social media definitely included and particularly where you can gain information from specific people already working in the lines of the tables of organization, and the specific work areas in them, that you might be hired into.

On the face of it, that dichotomy might seem to cover most if not all employment opportunity possibilities, where a possible hiring position might be a more strictly value creating one for a given hiring company or it might be more of a cost center and ancillary support position there. My own jobs and careers experience have found that dual category approach helpful, but that same experience has shown me how this type of due diligence research can parse out possible work opportunities in different ways too. And I will offer one other possibility here, based on my work as a consultant, but also on my experience when I have gone on-payroll and in-house for periods of time too.

Does a position that is being hired for, and the jobs and career opportunity that creates, represent ongoing stability and even stasis at a business? Or has this position been created in order to address change and its demands?

• Businesses can and do both expand and shrink back their levels of activity and their corresponding headcount requirements over time, and generally in response to combinations of both need and opportunity.
• This, obviously, can mean expansion in value creating areas such as Production or Sales. And it can mean bringing in new cutting edge technical skills or cutting back on older skills that are less in demand and less required now, in order to meet current and readily anticipated business needs.
• But it can also mean a hiring business expanding its back office and its more cost center operations in order to meet expanding needs there, and particularly when facing risk management challenges. And when a business faces more sudden and even compelling need to expand in these more generally less appreciated parts of the organization, that can mean real opportunity for potential high value hires with the right skills and experience.
• Ultimately, even businesses that are owned and led by managers who primarily focus on what they see as their value creating centers, have to keep and maintain at least critical needs cost center support for that too. So I am not just writing here of value center positions as being good and cost center positions bad to apply for and accept. I am writing here about the importance of knowing which of them you might be considering as possible job opportunities, and how the types of position you would seek out are categorically longer-term viewed there and by whom. And I am writing about knowing where a value center position or a more supportive cost center position might be viewed as holding higher priority and value, and where it might be one that would be phased out as no longer meeting current needs, at least in-house.

And this brings me to a point in my overall discussion here, where I would step back to at least begin to address more general principles of career development planning, and certainly as they connect with this series. I have been discussing issues of job search and of longer-term career development here, and in both timeframe considerations have focused on what you can learn about potential employers – and about your current employer too when you are already working at a job.

If there is one take home lesson that I would ask you to remember and to keep acting upon out of this series it is that getting hired does not end anything in your overall jobs and careers initiative. At most this simply ends one step in what should always be viewed as longer-term ongoing processes – and the beginning of next steps. And that means continuing to learn and both about specific employers and potential employers and about the business sectors and verticals, and the industries they operate in. And this means continuing to learn about your markets too, where that means both the markets that businesses you might be involved with operate in, and your own marketplace as a potential next-career step hire or promotion.

I have been developing my overall Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, in what as of this writing are now three directory pages of postings and series listings. And I have been writing and offering this as a connected collection of resources that are intended for use as tools for helping readers to think through and carry through on those next jobs and careers steps (see Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that.) Think of everything that I have been discussing here as tools for helping you facilitate taking next steps in a work life length process. And in the context of this series, I add that knowledge is power and social media resources allow you to gather less filtered and even entirely candid and unfiltered insight from specific people who work in the areas that you would work in, and who would be your key stakeholders, and your key competitors there too.

And with that, I turn from considering what you can learn about the businesses that you do or might work with, to consider what they can and increasingly do seek to learn about you too. I will begin discussing that complex of issues in my next series installment. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide. And you can find this and related material at Social Networking and Business and its continuation page too.

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