Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's all about the value

I’m not one for the seemingly never-ending predictions made about the coming year that inevitably get rolled out during the dying embers of the previous one. Many of these prognosticators end up with proverbial egg on their face when the review of the past 365 days is done.

However, I’m going to go out on a limb here. My fearless prediction for 2009 is that value will become a common refrain over the next 12 months--value in the context of what potential employees can bring to a new employer, as well as the products and services produced by companies will need to meet a need, and provide value for the consumer. This isn’t limited to the private sector, either. Agencies that are part of local, state, and national government will need to be able to prove, during budget shortfalls that their services are necessary, and create value in the short run, and let’s not neglect the need to keep in mind the longer view, either.

So how does this shake out in the real world? Let’s say for instance that you are out of work, or spinning your wheels in a low-wage/low-skill employment cycle; early 2009 is a great time to enroll in a soft skills training program like WorkReady, if you’re fortunate to have one offered in your area. Lewiston will be holding WorkReady #7, starting January 26. Waterville will be offering their second program in March.

If you’ve just lost your job, there are a variety of no cost options provided courtesy of your local CareerCenter. Maine’s One-Stops provide a great deal of bang for the taxpayers buck. Not only can their helpful staff assist with an out-of-date resume, helping you create it the way employers want it, they also provide a variety of workshops (check with your local Center to see what they have) on interviewing skills, free internet access, job listings and job search help, employment counseling, as well as a weekly Unemployed Professionals Group (Lewiston) with dynamic guest speakers.

Losing a job can be traumatic, and certainly not something that anyone welcomes. The best way to use your unemployment period to your own advantage is finding ways to boost your employability. This is particularly true if you’ve been laid off after a considerable stretch in the same occupation. Your local Adult Education office is another super place turn for a skills boost. If you haven’t visited one of Maine’s many Adult Ed offices for awhile, its not just about getting your GED, or remedial classes. Most locations offer a wealth of technology classes that will help increase your computer literacy, and acquire high-end skills if you already have the basics down. Lewiston Adult Education last February offered 30 weeks of welding training leading to industry-specific certifications.

While Maine, like other parts of country are seeing unemployment spikes, and the worst economic period in the last 30-35 years, at some point (hopefully Q3, or Q4), employers once again will see demand for products and services pick up, and they’ll be looking for employees that can help them ensure value. Make sure you’re ready when opportunity knocks.

One item that sometimes gets left out of the job search mix to the peril of a job seeker, is the importance of networking. One of my new “go to” blogs, particularly when it comes to all things HR, is Punk Rock HR (how come HR directors in Maine aren’t this cutting edge?). Laurie has a great post today about networking, and why it’s key (even more than your resume). She also introduces you to another great resource in Jennifer, at Cincy Recruiter, as well as putting in a plug for Twitter, and other social networking sites, like LinkedIn. [Note: Your immediate reaction about social networking reveals much about your current state. Like it or not, Web 2.0 is here to stay, so ignore it at your peril-JB]

In closing, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture, particularly on the policy side of things. Leadership is faced with tough choices when it comes to budgets and maintaining vital services. Let’s hope that those in Augusta will make wise decisions that have a positive impact on economic and workforce development for the future. Shortsightedness and panic could be disastrous. My hope is that someone making policy has a strategic vision that moves beyond the obvious, to visioning what the state will look like in 5, 10, and 15 years out.

1 comment:

RMSJr.SPHR said...

The value needs to start with the application process. The wrong questions to ask include;

The cold phone call, no introduction to identify the caller, usually, and unfortunately a surly, sullen and desperate voice asking first, "Are you guys hiring?"

The cold call in person, walking in, asking for a job application, then asking, "What do you guys do here?"

Extraordinary times require extraordinary efforts. For both cases mentioned, I try to draw out the person's name, work background and relevant experience. I'm not hiring right now. That doesn't mean I can stop caring and helping my fellow citizens.