Larry Elle, MSW : Principal Consultant, Success Associates Career Services & Founder, President of Professional Development Collaborative, Inc. (Belmont, MA)
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
BSO: Larry, from your 20+ years as a career counselor, leading job search success teams, and your observations of challenges stemming from the covid19 pandemic (social distancing and working from home), what are the most critical obstacles facing professionals in job transition today?
The most critical obstacles today are remaining adaptable to the changing circumstances of our economy and possessing up to date, in-demand professional skills. Related to this are being able to articulate a direction for themselves so that they can answer the question, “What kind of work do you want to do and why here?”
Many people remain mentally stuck in the past, hoping that what worked yesterday will work today. They apply for a variation of their old job and find few or no openings, or if they land an interview, the employer often sees them as “overqualified” or even “out-dated”.
It’s important to be able to articulate to prospective employers what you can do for them, why you’re qualified, and why you can better meet their needs than the next person. It also helps immensely if you do this by directly speaking to the employer (achieved through networking) rather than hoping they’ll respond to your resume.
Given the current recession, employers will be seeking employees who are both highly productive and adaptable, able to shift tasks and priorities to meet company needs. Applicants need to be able to give past examples of how they can meet these expectations, doing it in a pleasant and upbeat manner. Companies today are all about teamwork. There’s little room for loners who take directions but can’t take initiative.
BSO: In MA, we currently have 18 % unemployment. The economy is slowly reopening and professionals are being recalled and there’s some new hiring. But people are returning to changed work environments. Not only are more people working remotely, but there is a new emphasis on teamwork and demonstrating both technological know-how and interpersonal skills.
What key strategies would you suggest for professionals 1) navigating this new environment and 2) adapting their current job and job search process to reflect the environment Covid-19 has created?
Let me start by addressing the job search portion of your question because the answer to the question of how you find work remains the same today as yesterday: networking, networking and networking.
Networking allows you to interact with people who can introduce you to people who can get you the job. It’s estimated that networking produces 70 – 80 percent of all job offers. And while today we have internet interviewing, internet job boards, and internet recruiters (who are responsible for about only seven percent of all hires), it still comes down to job seekers taking the initiative to directly reach out to others to land a job.
I should add that on June 9th , I’m starting my 23rd Job Search Success Team. These teams are an embodiment of all the best ways to job search combining the skills of expert leadership, 21st Century job search techniques, and extensive collaboration and mutual support. Members gain the knowledge and support needed to do an effective job search, even the most challenging parts like networking. If you’re job hunting and you need a boost, check us out at http://www.careersuccessassociates.com.
Once hired, don’t expect that you’ll return to yesterday’s workplace.
It’s repeated ad nauseum that today’s workplaces run “leaner and meaner”. The leaner is certainly true but not necessarily meaner. The Covid-19 crisis shows that we’re all in this together. In a way, we’re all essential workers who need to collaborate. Today, a well-managed workplace can be leaner and more productive, and also more supportive and collaborative. In fact, it’s the increase in collaboration (often achieved across great distances thanks to the internet) that make for higher productivity. Collaboration requires being sensitive to interpersonal human factors where cooperation and mutual support trump raw competitiveness.
BSO: Working from home, sharing space with family and managing all the domestic obligations that that entails, are creating new norms for those working remotely. You’re partnering (through your non-profit, the Professional Development Collaborative), with the highly regarded speakers Wayne Johnson and Erinda Spiro for a June 3, Zoom presentation (www.PDCBoston.org).
Tell us more about that collaboration and give us a sneak preview of what to look forward to as our audience looks for guidance, inspiration and actionable strategies to manage this unprecedented time.
The PDC is excited to have Wayne and Erinda share their expertise on the contemporary workplace. One of their basic insights is the idea that “getting the job done” often has nothing to do with where you are working. Work is what you do, not where you do it. They believe that as long as clear parameters are established for what is considered positive performance, and employees reach these goals, there is no need to be onsite.
They’ll discuss a Results Only Work Environment. In a ROWE, team members are measured by their performance, results, or output. Management gives employees complete autonomy over their projects, and allows them the freedom to choose when and how they meet their goals. In a Results-Only Work Environment, results count when assessing how successful an employee is, not face-time.
Their talk will share ideas about how to be successful in this changed environment, understanding that remote working is a cultural shift requiring new competencies and a shift in perspective. They call this new reality a “Responsiveness Culture” and they will provide insights into how you can master the demands of this new work environment.
BSO: Thank you, Larry, for your time, insights and resources on managing our ‘working from home’ environment.
I appreciate the opportunity to address your audience. Thank You!