Briefcase Coach's Career Briefs: Job Search Smarter

Perfecting your value proposition, hiring trends in Tech, working through failures for success, coworker holiday gift guide and more!

Dear Reader:

I love the social tango of the holiday season. It's the season of neighborhood parties and office soirees, where connections are made, friendships are strengthened, and opportunities abound. But how much do you share about yourself in a casual conversation at a social event? You don't want to be the Chandler Bing of your friend circle. You need to be able to confidently and succinctly answer the introductory question, "So, what do you do?"

To help answer this question, I wrote an article with tips for stating your value proposition in under 8 seconds.

It’s not an easy feat! The first time I tried this activity, it took me about 15 seconds to blunder through what I did. Four tries later, I was able to get my message down to a succinct 7-second.

Unemployed? Even more reason to do this exercise. This could be your chance to tap into the hidden job market.

As you step into this holiday season, I encourage you to embrace the social invitations and seize the moment. Let this be a reminder that your network is one of the most valuable assets in your job search.

Rooting for you,

Ps. Share your 8-second value proposition with me. I’d genuinely love to hear it! (Just hit reply)

Navigating failure and turning it into a success story

Oftentimes, when starting something new, (especially a business!) there will be bumps in the road. Henri Al Helaly, the author of this article 4 Ways to Turn Your Struggles into Resilience published in Entrepreneur magazine, describes how failures have become pillars of success and how team dynamics continually reshape their leadership philosophy. The article highlights the importance of adaptability, strategy formulation skills, and transforming challenges into opportunities.

An in-depth look at the hiring shift in Tech

Tech hiring has changed dramatically from 2022 to 2023. We've seen shifts in tech employers’ and candidates' expectations, as well as layoffs, hiring freezes, inflation, and the explosion of generative artificial intelligence. In the last year, we've seen signs on the horizon of an emerging crisis in the tech industry. Companies are shifting their focus to hiring more experienced talent while reducing investments in junior tech workers. Recruiting Brainfood recently shared this in-depth report by Hired that looks at the ever-changing landscape of the tech industry, its hiring practices and what it means for tech employees going forward.

Some key highlights:

Local salaries in the US, including those for fully in-person or hybrid roles, have experienced their most significant year-over-year decline, dropping by 3% from $161,000 to $156,000. In contrast, salaries in the UK have seen a 4% increase, rising from £82,000 to £86,000.

With talent fleeing to lower-cost-of-living markets over the past few years, employers have consequently decreased the number of open roles in high-cost-of-living markets by 19% and have nearly quadrupled the number of roles in low-cost-of-living markets to 9% since 2020.

Employers on Hired’s marketplace have a higher demand for specialized engineers, especially for AI applications such as machine learning (ML), as well as cybersecurity, data, and backend engineers.

James Hornick, Chief Growth Officer at recruiting firm, Hirewell, recently took to LinkedIn, to share an intriguing insight. In his thought-provoking post, he revealed that the tech hiring landscape witnessed a remarkable surge of 31% from the second quarter to the third quarter of this year. However, despite this impressive growth, Hornick astutely pointed out that the current state of tech hiring is still a far cry from what it once was in the era of zero interest rates. Worth a quick read.

Which companies are using applicant tracking systems (ATS)?

When entering the job market or revising your resume, it is important to keep in mind the technology being used to help recruiters and hiring managers narrow down applicants. This JobScan report looks at the use of ATS by Fortune 500 companies and offers suggestions for how to optimize your resume when applying through specific systems. It can be overwhelming for a jobseeker to evaluate the different nuances in the systems. Resume writing services like Briefcase Coach stay on top of trends and can help navigate the process.

Is inflation + a strong economy causing a career standstill?

While economists say the constant pursuit of new and better opportunities is a sign of a strong economy, it can also fuel inflation. As the Federal Reserve tries to stamp out inflation by raising interest rates, many consumers have less buying power and are holding on to what they have. In this article from the Wall Street Journal, the traffic jam of upward mobility and the pursuit of happiness is explained. As more people hesitate to sell their homes, switch jobs, or start new businesses, those below them are becoming collateral damage. People can't move up if the people above them don't move on. It begs the question - is this stalemate worth it?

As the year comes to a close, many look to show their appreciation to their coworkers, interns and employees with a thoughtful gift. It is not always easy to think of gifts for everyone. I have curated a list of great gifts to help. Including some of my go to gifts, many of my LinkedIn followers shared their favorite gifts as well. With a range of items and price points, there is something for everyone.

Did we leave your favorite gift off our annual list? Reply to this email with a link and description of your favorite product. We will update our recommendations before the Holiday season and may include your suggestions!

Before you turn in your notice….

When you finally receive the phone call you've been eagerly anticipating, it may be tempting to immediately celebrate, share the news on social media, and celebrate with a victory dance. However, I must caution you by saying, "It's not over until it's over," or in this case, until your start date is confirmed. Before taking any action, make sure to obtain written confirmation. Push the recruiter or hiring manager to provide you with an official offer letter that includes all the details.

I've been around long enough to see heartbreak. I've seen candidates put in their notice without an official letter documenting the offer. It is important to note that many job offers are conditional. If you have any concerns about passing a background check, refrain from resigning from your current job until you have received official confirmation. I have seen offers being withdrawn because the candidate had a DUI on their record or failed to disclose a previous bankruptcy in their application. It is crucial to understand that an offer letter is typically not a contract, especially in "right to work" or "at-will" states.

Take the time to review the benefits package before starting your new job. Ensure that there are no surprises when it comes to your employment benefits. Some employees may not be eligible for insurance immediately, so make sure you know when your coverage will begin and what your monthly out-of-pocket expenses will be. I have seen benefits become a deal-breaker for candidates. You may be offered a higher salary, but if the employer-sponsored health plan requires pre-authorization, has a high deductible, or requires a significant percentage of the health plan's costs, you could actually end up taking a pay cut by making a career move.

Consider waiting a few weeks before updating your LinkedIn profile after changing jobs. While this is subjective, I believe you have a grace period of one to two months. It is important to note that no job is perfect. Based on my conversations with transitioning employees, the majority of them realized within the first month that they were in a bad job or that it was not aligned with their skill set. Companies can deceive you, and what may initially seem like a "dream job" could turn out to be a sinking ship.

Can you do me a favor?

I’m on a mission to help job seekers land amazing jobs. Would you consider doing one of the following:

  • Forward or use the referral link below to share this newsletter with your job-searching friends or post about it on social media. This small act really helps!

  • Reach out to us about featuring your executive job posting in our newsletter. We are looking for hiring managers, founders, and search firms to talk on video about their ideal candidates.

  • Consider sharing my company name with your HR leadership. We are a great “white-glove” boutique option for executive outplacement

  • Recommend me as a paid speaker for your company events on networking, job searching, or leveraging LinkedIn

  • Recommend my services to high performers wanting to work one-on-one with an executive resume writer / or experienced interview coach

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