A Tale of Two Job Markets

As both a career counselor and a recruiter, I see the state of the job market from many vantage points.  Frankly, it’s a confusing picture that  looks like two parallel graph lines that refuse to intersect.  On one line — let’s call it Line E for Employed —  there are my well-employed clients and colleagues who are increasingly being pursued for roles that directly leverage their current and marketable experience. Terms like “multiple offers” are in the vernacular again. 

Then there’s Line U (for Unemployed). While the market seems to be loosening up for some of these folks (and I stress that my evidence here is anecdotal and experiential, not Department of Labor empirical data), many remain stubbornly in transition purgatory. I’ve written before about the “over-50 and overqualified” factor and that is certainly part of the picture.  While there are no magic paths from Line U to Line E, here are a few strategies that seem to be working for some:

–Changing sectors.  Moving from corporate roles to non-profit, higher education, etc.  This tends to work better for “infrastructure” functions like finance, human resources and communications.  Compensation level can be a big trade-off (though not always as much as you might think), along with adjusting to more consensus-based management styles and decision-making processes.  However, the over-50 crowd is well represented and anecdotal reports of job satisfaction and perceived stability are plusses.

–Relocating.  Not a viable option for many but for those who can make it work, competing for roles in less geographically desirable markets can be a way back in and doesn’t have to be a forever move. Some organizations — knowing that they have tough markets for relocation — are even open to partial arrangements like holding onto a house back home and living in company-sponsored housing during part of the typical work week.

–Joining synergistic alliances.  Consultants who collaborate rather than compete can create a broad scope of services as well as widespread geographic representation for prospective clients.  While some organizations will always favor large-scale consulting firms, others find price and service advantages in hiring these kinds of consultant consortiums, especially when the principals have previous big-company experience in their backgrounds.  

So once again, no magic bullet — but a few ideas to evaluate as we all search for ways to help two job markets converge into one that offers opportunities for anyone who wants to stay in or get back in the game. 

What are you seeing out there?