By: Connie Blaszczyk, Managing Editor, Monster Resource Center
With unemployment stubbornly high, the question remains, “What’s so great about the Great Recession?”
The downturn has adversely impacted Americans of all ages, from forty-something Gen X’ers to recently-graduated Millennials to maturing Baby Boomers.
As we’ve reported in the Monster Resource Center, the recession has impacted employers looking to hire and retain the right people. It’s also prompted some fresh thinking about the recruiting process and how to manage today’s multigenerational workforce.
Candid Talk: The Interview Revisited
Many of today’s applicants with otherwise consistent and in some cases stellar career records have had their careers derailed these past few years. Add to that job applicants who are looking to return to work after the layoff of a spouse or significant other.
Whether under-employed or simply unemployed, these circumstances require a rethinking of the candidate interview, says author Paul Falcone in a recent Resource Center article.
Falcone recommends using a line of questioning in the interview that initiates open and honest dialogue, focusing as much on the candidate’s career needs as on the needs of the company.
For instance, if the applicant resigned from their job, the employer might ask, “What would have had to change at your company for you to stay?
What would have been your next logical career progression had you remained?” In the case of a candidate layoff, ask, “What was the company’s rationale in implementing reductions in force? How many layoffs did you survive before you were let go?”
Interview questions such as these, says Falcone, can help differentiate candidates who were sidetracked through no fault of their own from candidates whose skills simply fall short.
Talk about Attitude: Why Soft Skills Matter
Does attitude alone make the difference in getting hired in today’s tough job market? The answer, more often than not, is yes.
In his recent article, author and Watermark Consulting founder Jon Picoult notes that while today’s top companies don’t necessarily overlook technical skills, they nonetheless look very carefully at a candidate’s soft skills.
Why? A match in attitude is crucial in today’s fast-changing business environment where new hires must often hit the ground running.
Soft skills -- being a people person, having an upbeat personality or possessing a keen ability to learn new things -- help employers align a candidate with their company brand and culture. Soft skills are also a factor with “between jobs” candidates -- people who have been laid off -- and nonetheless demonstrate resilience and optimism.
The first step to attracting these candidates says Picoult: clearly spell out expectations in the job description. For example, by making it clear that you’re in the market for extroverts, fewer introverts will apply.
He adds that whatever you seek in your new hire, the key is to look beyond the resume and search for more subtle clues about a candidate’s behavior.
Career as Conversation: From Ladder to Lattice
Remember the career ladder, that rickety ascendance to corporate power? Turns out it’s become obsolete.
In her recent article, author Joanne Cleaver points out that the ladder no longer fits most workers. Cleaver’s new model for career development is also the title of her latest book, The Career Lattice.
The lattice replaces the one-way route to the top, enabling employees in various stages of career development to plot career steps and make the most of opportunities offered by employers.
For example, says Cleaver, employers can make use of Baby Boomers’ generational hindsight by assigning them as Master Mentors within the organization. For Gen X workers who are well-versed in juggling work and family life, think Flex Sets, tasked to create a more productive flex-time work model. For Gen Ys or Millennials, consider assignments that pollinate groups across cultures, a terrain where many younger workers thrive.
These various initiatives can help to generate a more meaningful and open dialogue between employers, workers and job seekers.
By talking, we can renew the inherent contract between America’s workers and employers, rebuilding our economy, one conversation at a time.
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