According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs in June 2019. That same month, employment in professional and technical services increased by 30,000. Computer systems design and related services (+7,000) and management and technical consulting services (+7,000) led the job growth. So far in 2019, professional and technical services has added 149,000 jobs, and management and technical consulting services (+25,000). These are substantial numbers but the growth rate can only be sustained for so long.
I am neither an economist nor an expert in financial forecasts, but based on the historical data and some of the case studies we’ve studied at Harvard Business School, the growth will eventually slow and potentially reverse into recession. Moreover, it is a question of when and not if.
As a professional, you want to stay ahead of that trend and do everything possible now to make your Career recession proof. Below are some of the strategies to take into account to put yourself in a position to win vs. scramble at the last minute when everyone is competing for the same job opportunity.
Grow & Expand Your Professional Network
One of my professors at HBS, Prof. Linda A. Hill, the author of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader, defines the 3 types of networks:
- Strategic (potential clients, Sr Execs)
- Operational (colleagues, subordinates)
- Developmental (professors, coaches, mentors)
It is recommended to perform a careful analysis of your professional networks and categorize them into these 3 categories. This will allow you to understand the depth and diversity of your network. Prof. Linda A. Hill recommends that we identify gaps in our networks by:
- Building Outward, not Inward
- Build Bridges
- Build Diversity
As a CTO of ProSource IT, which specializes in niche staffing in Information Technology, I spend good deal of my time strategizing with the Sr Executives of Fortune 500 Companies on winning the war for talent, transformation and building high performing teams. This allows me to not only expand and solidify my own network, but provide them with opportunities to expand their networks. As one of my favorite authors Claudio Fernández-Aráoz stated:
“Its not the How or the What, but the Who – succeed by surrounding yourself with the Best”.
In summary, Network, Network and Network. Yes, a lot of networking events are worse than a visit to a dentist, but you can be strategic about targeting the niche events and programs, which will allow you to expand and diversify your network.
Build Relationships with Recruiters.
Indeed, the staffing and recruitment industries have been largely commoditized in the past decade but this is not what this article is about (although I do plan on addressing that soon). During my years as a Project Manager for many large Fortune 100 companies, I have had my share of experience dealing with recruiting agencies that largely focus on numbers. You are a just a small part of the volume-based game. But not all companies are the same and there are Staffing companies that focus building genuine relationships with the candidates and invest time into understanding their needs and desires as a job seeker, while making the best effort to match them up with the right Company. This may sound as a marketing gimmick, but our company, ProSource IT (although smaller than most Staffing agencies), embraces head-on the value of relationship building with the candidates and employs specific strategies, which provide direct opportunities to create that dialogue between the Recruiter and the Candidate.
As a professional and a potential job-seeker, identify and invest time into building relationship with a Recruiter, who exhibits genuine interest in working with you long-term, rather than a one time placement.
“Good recruiters help you get a job. Great recruiters help you build a career.”
Invest In Yourself.
Complacency is deadly. Identify the latest trends in your industry and match those against your personal interest in certain fields that you will enjoy. For example, if you are a Business Analyst working at a Financial Services company, you may want to explore areas of expanding your technical skill set by learning SQL or purchase courses on Udemy on Data Science, RPA (Robotics Process Automation), AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning) and diversify your skill set beyond just the traditional BA skills. Supplementary and niche skill set will allow you to solidify your resume and increase your potential whether you are aiming for that next promotion at the current company or exploring new opportunities.
Don’t wait till the job growth slows and companies start tightening the spending belts, let alone start downsizing. Put yourself in a position to be able to choose when everyone else is competing. Lay the right foundation now, grow your personal and professional networks, build relationships with right recruiters and invest in yourself.
Jahn Karsybaev is a CTO at ProSource IT – consultative staffing & solutions provider based out of South Florida. Jahn is a host of “The Ivy Podcast” where he interviews Thought Leaders, Business Executives and top notch Entrepreneurs.