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Following the tornado of cutbacks and downsizing that ripped through the Bay Area, the job market has finally regained its footing, which is great news for all kinds of people, from recent grads to employees unsatisfied with their current jobs. But you don't have to go it alone.
We've asked some of the Bay Area's experts on job searching recruiters to guide those seeking gainful employment. Since these are the people who sell job seekers to potential employers on a daily basis, we figure who better to provide valuable insight about landing that dream job (or dream income)?
Our panel of experts: Linda Carlton, president and CEO of FinanceStaff, a recruiting resource for accounting and finance professionals in Northern California; Daniel Morris, director of staffing at Trulia, a real estate search engine poised to double in size within the next year; and Madison Badertscher, an independent recruiter currently placing engineers and computer programmers in Silicon Valley.
And just in case you're worried about how the recruiting industry affects local job seekers, keep in mind that the demand for skilled employees is so high especially in fields such as engineering, finance, and graphic design that recruiters are forced to look outside the Bay Area in order to find them. This means recruiters typically aren't threatening local job seekers (though Morris points out there are certainly people who would disagree). Furthermore, recruiters say, the global perspective that international candidates tend to bring to Bay Areabased positions is often a weighty plus.
The general consensus is that the Bay Area job market is enjoying a renewed vigor. The jobs are out there and the conduits to them are many and varied. There is simply nothing to lose by taking advantage of the myriad recruiting resources available to you, whether you are just entering the workforce or still searching for the perfect job. So use this advice, and then go get 'em:
As you might've guessed, the Internet is a great place to start your search and from the looks of top job boards such as Monster.com, HotJobs.com, and Craigslist.org, all kinds of companies are hiring. But don't hesitate to post your résumé online as well contrary to the popular belief that you'll just get lost in the shuffle, recruiters say this is the first place they look when trying to fill a position.
Carlton says she starts here because it's where the most eager candidates tend to post their résumés. Morris agrees, pointing out that it's the best place to cast a wide net.
Keep in mind, though, that your résumé is the only way you're representing yourself on these job boards. So make sure you've put your best foot forward. Carlton recommends thinking of your résumé as an essay. Employers will make inferences from what they see, she says. Anything that could potentially look bad, such as a series of short-term jobs, should be given due explanation. Morris says previous successes should be quantified in a strong résumé. Sales accomplishments, for example, should be listed in quantifiable terms.
If you don't have tons of experience, though, don't fret. You might get just as far emphasizing how passionate you are about the potential job. Morris, for example, looks to staff Trulia with employees who have a history of doing more than is expected of them. And though Badertscher says education and relevant experience are important, she points out that credentials can be secondary to a strong willingness to learn.
Job applicants who know exactly where they want to work and what they want to do are often best off aligning themselves with in-house recruiters, who frequently develop close relationships with the hiring staff at their companies. These recruiters know the company culture, including what makes the hiring manager tick.
Applicants who have a range of ideas about what they would like to be doing or where they want to work should look for agency-based recruiters or independent recruiters, as both can help narrow the search.
Agency-based recruiters, such as Carlton, often work with companies that want to be presented with lots of candidates. They also help fill temporary jobs, which can be a great way for a job seeker to test a particular position, company, or industry before making a commitment.
But agency-based and independent recruiters have a bevy of tools to help job seekers identify what they want. For example, Carlton uses a range of personality profiling methods in order to aid applicants, including tests such as Myers-Briggs, Omni Profile, and Kathy Kolbe's method of measuring how people like to apply themselves.
With so many companies looking to hire, recruiting itself has become a viable but somewhat nebulous career choice. There's a particularly high demand for recruiters in the Bay Area, thanks to lower unemployment rates. But how does someone become a recruiter?
It's certainly not an obvious path. Carlton says the best way is to get hired by one of the big national firms, receive some structured training from them, then go out on your own or join a smaller firm when the process becomes intuitive. "The great thing about being a recruiter is that you can do it anywhere," she says.
A wide range of backgrounds can lead to a lucrative career in recruiting. The important thing is getting the skills you need for the job. For example, Morris learned about generating leads and closing deals while working in sales at an Atlanta tech firm. Badertscher learned to be detail-oriented from her previous career in event planning. And Carlton first expressed her interest in talking to people about their careers as a high school guidance counselor an interest she later supplemented with an MBA from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
"Recruiting is really a social science the field can be lucrative, but it's tough to succeed if money is your main motivation," Carlton says. "I love it when I can help someone find their dream job and help a client find the perfect person. That's what it's all about." *
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