EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Several years ago I got a note from one of our members of long standing complaining about the value of the leads in our newsletter. It was a well written message that cited chapter and verse about his experiences and I read it with great interest.

Consistent with the experience of most of our members, this particular individual had been between jobs 3 times since joining The FENG, including the current search which wasn’t over yet. (As you know, you are never actually working, you are just between searches.)

Although very careful in selecting positions to answer (qualified members only), he has on several occasions almost immediately gotten a response to one of his resumes telling him the job was filled. Hard to believe that the recruiting process could go that fast.

I hope that all of you who are kind enough to share job leads are sending them in while they are still fresh. There really is no purpose in sending in a job lead after you are no longer being considered. Inviting competition from your fellow members is one of our core values. Job leads have a very short shelf life measured in hours, so please don’t hold onto them. And, please understand that it is not possible for The FENG newsletter editors to in any way vet job leads. That would only delay their delivery to you.

But let me get to the real problem. The major issue is that the search business isn’t what it used to be, not that anything is anymore. As bad as the recession after 9/11 was for the search business, I fear the toll from the Great Recession has been even worse for this valued industry.

Not only are there very few jobs put out to search, but the resources available to companies such as LinkedIn are also eating into their business. And, let’s not forget everyone is pinching pennies these days. Spending money on search fees isn’t going to get you a pat on the back from the boss if you are in the Human Resources department. I should also mention that many of the folks formerly in the search business are working on a contract basis for the companies they used to service for variable and very high fees.

The net result is that recruiters are scrambling for business and posting jobs that perhaps they really don’t have. You can’t blame them. Like all of us, they have to make a living, or at least try to make a living. What the shape of their industry will look like over the next few years as the labor shortage from the baby boomers retiring sets in is anyone’s guess.

All of the above is part of the reason why I push networking. If you are focused on answering job ads alone, you are conducting a passive job search. Networking is a contact sport. In the best of times, the statistics I have heard were that the search community only filled 15%-20% of all jobs. The other 80%-85% were filled primarily by networking.

There are, of course, some living dinosaurs in the natural world. And, there will likely be folks in the search community for the foreseeable future. It is just that you shouldn’t count on them to help find you a job. Frankly, if you are over 40, you aren’t their prime targets anyway.

So, unless you want to become a dinosaur and become extinct, you need to continually adjust your thinking and actions to the world around you. I don’t claim to know any direct path to a new job. I don’t believe there is one.

You need to do a variety of things, but the most important one is networking. And if you feel like a dinosaur, perhaps you can learn to dance anyway.

Regards, Matt

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