Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Get a job online amidst the global recession!

Jason O’Connor

March 2009

If you are searching for a job online at the moment, you will no doubt have found that it is pretty tough out there. Due to current economic conditions most businesses are either freezing their staff growth, or worse, are planning for redundancies as a measure to lower costs and save on salaries. Things don't look like they will improve for some time.

It is not hard to see the effects of the recession on the job market. Across the three main online job boards, since November 2008 there has been a marked decrease in the number of advertisements placed online. Those same sites are reporting a 15% increase in unique browsers - within the same time period.

What this means for the online job seeker? Not many jobs and a hell of a lot of competition.

With such a grim outlook, it's only natural to feel a little anxious or stressed about the prospect of finding employment. However from an in-house recruitment perspective, there are some key things you can do to give yourself a competitive advantage while looking for jobs online...

Do your research

Go online and research which sectors and industries are either skills short or still growing. The Department of Labour publish a quarterly Labour Market Report online which provides valuable commentary on which sectors and industries are slowing and which areas are growing with respect to employment. Another way to check out which areas are growing is to check out a large,credible job board like seek.co.nz and search your location / industry. You can then gauge how many positions are advertised under that category. If that industry has more advertisements posted than another - you can safely assume that area is coping better through the recession. Of course companies like Orcon that are growing and innovating will always be on the lookout for talented people - so check out our site too: www.orcon.net.nz/careers

Identify companies that appeal to you

Whether or not companies are actively advertising positions online, you can be sure there are vacancies that are in the pipeline - probably due to attrition or staggered growth. Have a think about the sectors and industries that appeal to you, and the companies and brands within those areas push your buttons. Why do they appeal to you and why would you want to work for that company? A great website to help you understand career options across different industries and sectors is www.careerservices.govt.nz.

Build Rapport with those companies

Once you've sussed out which companies push your buttons, devise a plan and suitable approach. Great companies and recruiters are always open to hearing from talented individuals who have a genuine desire to work for the company and add value. Once you've got your name in the door and built rapport with the right contact, your name will be the first that springs to mind when that next vacancy is approved.

Know what buttons to press

Go online and research the companies you are keen to approach. What are their values, and what do they look for in employees? If the company website doesn't have a careers page that talks about values, check out Google - you'll usually be able to find something! Websites like LinkedIn are great social networking tools to gather stories and information on what it's like to work for a particular company.

Your approach should always be in-line with the company values and brand, showing your suitability, credibility and initiative. Now more than ever, you want to be talking about driving measurable results, adding value and showing return on investment, given the general hesitation in business to spend any extra money. Show that you can make an impact to the business and add to their future success.

Go for it!

Whether or not you are making an approach to a company, or applying for an advertised role - make sure your approach is customised for the role, type of job and company you are applying too. From an in-house recruiters point of view, there is nothing more discouraging than receiving a CV that says "I would love to work in the food and beverage industry" when you are applying to work here at Orcon! Make each application work for you - by ensuring your CV and cover letter is addressed to the contacts name, and reflects the company values and requirements. You can find some good tips online about how to make your CV and cover letter awesome - check out Monsters career advice website which has some really great and innovative ideas.

Be open to options

If the company you are facing is hesitant to hire permanent employees, be open to contracting. Generally this means the employment costs to the business will be listed as an expense rather than impacting on the company's wages bill. This offers employers more security and you the chance to work for your dream company and show them just how awesome you really are.

There are many other things you can do to cast your net wider, aside from the things mentioned above.

Use sites like LinkedIn to network with hiring managers and HR professionals. Another great place to meet hiring managers is on social networking sites like Facebook. Orcon for instance has a fan page on Facebook that is open to anyone. I advertise a lot of our roles through this, and have had success in reaching some awesome candidates through this website (after all, who makes a better employee than a big fan?). Sometimes it can be all about 'who you know' and 'being in the right place at the right time'. So keep talking to people, joining groups, reading blogs and knocking on doors.

But the main piece of advice I'd like to give is be resilient and keep thinking smartly about how you approach your job search. It is a tough time out there in the job market, but keep at it. The Guardian published great article last week that talks about coping with rejection and getting feedback, and I highly recommend reading it. In my experience if you are able to rise above the feelings of rejection and take on board positive feedback, your one step closer to your dream job.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Training Drugs!

I have recently had the pleasure (and a fair bit of pain) of starting to train with Jo Stewart again. It has only been a few days, but what an experience so far! I won’t go into the details of all my stretchy wobbly bits being grabbed and pinched into plastic measuring devices (I call them the ‘jaws of life. They can take a lot) or being stripped down and weighed like giant marlin in a deep sea fishing contest, as you’ve probably read about these experiences in my last stories.

Besides, we’re all friends already, so I’d like to share a much more inappropriate story with you.

It started with a meeting with Jo, to suss out my nutrition and training plans. Jo and I hadn’t caught up in about a year, so we had a lot to discuss before we got down to business – specifically Labia Remoulding and Anal Bleaching (I am not sure how we drifted onto this topic). But after a good chin-wag, it was straight into business. I was fortunate enough to be guinea pig for one of Jo’s newer diets. This particular diet doesn’t have a name, so I took the liberty in naming it ‘The Giant White Rubber Egg White and Burnt Chicken Breast Fast’. Jokes aside, it wasn’t quiet that bad!

After meeting with Jo, I took a trip to Extreme Nutrition in the City. I had gone in to see if Mo was around, as I was keen to purchase some muscle building Protein powder, and also some fat melting stuff. Mo had just set of to Dubai for the Worlds, so I spent some time discussing my requirements with his friendly associate.

“I want something strong”, I said to the man in the shop.

“Try this one, it is pretty good, will give you some energy and help speed up your metabolism”. He held out a small bottle of pills that looked like something that belonged in my Nana’s medicine cabinet.

I don’t think he understood what I really meant when I said strong, so I went into it a little more detail. Just to reinforce my point.

“But I REALLY want to really feel it. Don’t sell my any weak shit. I can handle it. Honestly. I’ve been taking the soft stuff for years! What have you got hiding on the top shelf, or better yet, what’s behind the counter”?

Aside from a sideways look, upon inferring the store stocked under the counter goodies, the man in the shop showed me a bottle which had images of flames and lightening on the packaging! Surely, something with this sort of imagery would be bound to get me going! The man in the shop went on to explain that this was the final frontier of energising fat burners, and being a liquid, it was more readily absorbable.

I like readily, so I bought a bottle.

That evening, my best mate Kel came over to hang out. We missed our weekly date night the previous Thursday (which normally always involves eating Sushi and getting shit faced at Japanese Karaoke Bars on cheap Sake, and doing Abba renditions, while dancing inappropriately with loose Japanese business men), so we planned a quiet DVD night in, including pyjamas, protein shakes, and pillow fights.

For those who don’t know my mate Kel, she is a rather fabulous.

Kel doesn’t leave the house unless she is wearing high heels; something labelled Dulce and Gabanna; and carrying a bottle of
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne in her handbag. And all the aforementioned items must match the ensemble and be current season, darling.

Anyway, Veuve aside, I explained to Kel that I on this particular occasion I was unable to partake in drink because of my 2 week ‘The Giant White Rubber Egg White and Burnt Chicken Breast Fast’. Although she didn’t outright say she was disappointed in that I was unable to partake, her sudden pale complexion and instant ‘blow up doll’ facial expression was enough to exhibit her complete shock at my otherwise unusual remark.

So there we were; a couple of sad tarts with no booze, and no-where to go. We were about to admit defeat to ‘The Note Book’ DVD sitting on the shelf beside a box of tissues and the empty bottle of Jacobs Creek RosÄ—, until I caught a glimpse of the Liquid Amp’d I had bought from Extreme Nutrition earlier in the day.

A much more exciting beverage, with fewer tears! Just add lightning bolts and flames.

“Should we give it a go?” I said to Kelly, sounding unsure and looking for reassurance, like a nun visiting The Den. “I don’t think we should take anything that is dispensed through a syringe”, replied Kel.

“People might think we are crack-whores”.

Then after a short pause, “But it looks fabulous, give me 10mls”.

We each took the RDI (that is Recommended Daily Intake, for you commoners who are fitness illiterate), which filled the syringe. Kel went first, squirting the antibiotic looking fluid into her mouth like a shot of flaming sambuca (we are both originally from the Shore, you see, we can handle the hard stuff). “It tastes like bloody battery acid and cat piss” scoffed a not so impressed Kel.

I went next, and wasn’t as phased by its unusual taste. Perhaps I am used to the many flavours of these ‘potential releasing’ potions, as discovered from other training excursions. Personally, I thought it tasted lighter fluid, wasabi, and REALLY hardcore sherbet. I’d have liked to mix it up with some L&P and Feijoa Vodka. Regardless, I carried on with my experiment - waiting for the desired effect.

What happened next can only be described as complete mayhem.

“It’s not working”, I said, as I reached for ‘The Note Book’ DVD and tissues, wishing I hadn’t polished of that bottle of Rose with Mariah Carey the previous evening. And in that very moment, an explosive surge of euphoria passed through me, as well as a glorious wave of raw energy. And a hiccup, a burp, and a couple of eye twitches.

I stood there for a moment, looking at my tingling hands and fingers, enjoying the uncontrollable giggling. The giggle turned into a roaring laughter, the roaring laughter turned into full body crumping on my bed. This resulted in breaking several slats in the frame, putting a number of tears in my Egyptian cotton bed linen, and almost giving myself a hernia. I managed to gain my composure for a short while, so looked about the room to check on Kel, who was no doubt off her tree as well.

“I am an angel”, said Kel, in a soft, slightly schizophrenic monotone. She was lying on her back doing carpet angels, leaving an outline among various pieces of clothing and other assorted items of designer bric-a-brac that had fallen out of her handbag. Her pupils had dilated and resembled black pearls. I flashed her a concerned look, and offered my hand to help pull her from the floor. In a cat like state of readiness, she let out a feline HISS and went straight for my eyes with her perfectly manicured fingers.

Ok, that last bit didn’t really happen. What REALLY followed was a dishevelled attempt to get ready or our BIG Liquid Amped night out! The DVD was definitely on the shelf tonight, and if I wanted to keep my apartment intact, we’d need to be out the door a-sap!

“Do you think people will think we are tragic losers for going clubbing at 9:30 at night”? I cautioned to Kel. In the split second it took for me to hyper-communicate this question to Kel, she had already whipped on her frock, and was speedily drawing all over her forehead with eye-liner.

“MY EYES WONT STOP MOVING”, said Kel, who now looked like a piece of kindergarten art work. She was getting speed wobbles, so I busied myself with my hair to steer my focus away from worry.

Now, I can say from my rather limited experience with hair and performance enhancing supplements, that it is hard to do your hair when you can’t stop moving. I had Kel’s GHDs, and attempted to straighten my very short hair – which seemed like a good idea at the time. I was doing this while doing ‘the running man’ dance to Beyonce, while changing my top every 2 minutes due to uncontrollable body sweating, while tying my shoes, and trying to fix my bed frame. In this process, I almost burnt of an ear, an eye brow, and three fingers. My left ear lobe still looks like a piece of burnt bacon. Anyhow.

We finally got into a cab, and headed for the bright lights of K Road. My conversation with the taxi driver, went something along the lines of, “Do you think we are on drugs? We aren’t on drugs! We had fat burners. They are great, but they are not drugs. You can buy them over the counter. Why are you looking at me like that? Do you think I am on drugs? Well I’m not. Stop questioning me. Stop looking at me in the rare view. What’s your manager’s name? Let me out. I want a refund”!

The poor taxi driver hadn’t said a word. Infact, I think the only words in his English vocabulary were ‘yes’, ‘you pay’, and ‘ass hole’.

After dancing all night on the stage at Family bar to Rihanna and Britney with a bunch or 18 year old runty teenagers, we decided us oldies better head on home. Good timing actually, as soon as we got through the door we both collapsed on the floor for several minutes, trying to build the will to drag ourselves up stairs and get into my bed. Which was in pieces on the floor still.

Moral of the story – moderate your fat burners, reinforce your slats, and don’t straighten your hair under the influence!