Briefcase Coach's Career Briefs: Job Search Smarter

An in depth look at 2023 hiring trends and 2024 insights, Master impromptu speaking, shift away from 401K benefits, future of AI assistants, decline in severance offerings and more...

Dear Reader:

As a career industry veteran, I’ve learned that the only thing constant when it comes to careers is change. Industries evolve. The interest rate impacts business expansion. Inflation changes spending habits. Media changes consumer behavior and connectivity. Every day is a new day in the career space. Even down to how job seekers apply and look for jobs is evolving. Anyone who equates a job search with dusting off an old resume is already lagging behind. As we venture into a year that promises both opportunity and evolving landscapes, it's crucial that your job search strategies align with the latest trends and insights.

I recently had the opportunity to interview several career and future of work experts on hiring trends and their predictions for what’s to come in 2024. While no one has a crystal ball, there are some strong themes about the upcoming year. In our 2023 Hiring Trends and 2024 Insights article, we look back on 2023 as the year of corporate reckoning. A year of businesses making hard decisions, from layoffs to back-to-office mandates. We also look ahead to 2024, exploring the growing trend of AI as part of the hiring process, the increased demand for fractional leadership, and the next generation of leaders as Baby Boomers set to retire.

As you proceed with your job search, embrace the changes, leverage technology to your advantage, and continuously develop your skills to remain competitive and aligned with the future of work.

Rooting for you,

Ps. Thank you for your kindness and generosity and all of the ways you’ve supported me and my business. I’d love to hear from you. (Yes, actually, I’d love to get a response to this message). What would you like to see in future newsletters?

Master Impromptu Speaking for Networking or Interviewing

Whether it’s a chance networking opportunity at a social event or an interview question, job seekers need to think quickly on their feet and be able to handle impromptu speaking situations.

In this article from Entrepreneur Matt Abrahams, a leading communications expert, offers a valuable strategy for these situations that often arise for executives. He demonstrates the effectiveness of a simple yet powerful presentation framework known as What - So What - Now What. This technique is all about structuring your thoughts on the fly: first explaining the topic (What), then its relevance (So What), and concluding with suggested actions (Now What). The article emphasizes that good structure is not a mere list but a narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end, which makes information more memorable and easier to process.

For any executive confronted with an unexpected speaking opportunity, embracing this structured approach can significantly improve clarity, audience engagement, and your own confidence. This guidance is a game-changer for anyone aspiring to excel in executive communication under pressure.

Retirement Benefits Shift from 401(k) to new RBA

Tech giant IBM has announced a significant change to its retirement benefits, shifting from a traditional 401(k)-matching program to a new Retirement Benefit Account (RBA) starting January 1. This move has prompted concerns from employees and financial advisors, with fears that it may reduce retirement savings and set a precedent for other companies.

In this article in USA Today, reporter Medora Lee looks at what employees faced with such changes should consider. Employees should remain vigilant about the details of retirement benefits when considering employment opportunities, especially as corporate retirement strategies evolve. It is important to understand the implications of such changes on long-term retirement savings, the importance of an employer's 401(k) matching incentives, and the possibility of having less control over invested funds with an RBA.

Are AI assistants the way of the future? Bill Gates thinks so.

Fortune recently shared that Bill Gates has predicted that within the next five years, everyone will have a personal assistant powered by artificial intelligence (AI). He believes these AI agents will be far beyond the capabilities of current technology and will be proactive, making suggestions and recommendations before even being asked. Gates envisions these agents being able to do a wide range of tasks, from arranging trips to helping with business plans and creating presentations. He also believes that companies will make these AI agents available to employees, allowing them to answer questions and be part of meetings. While Gates acknowledges that AI agents will likely come at a price, he expects there to be a lot of competition in the market, making them very affordable. He sees AI agents becoming an integral part of people's lives, simplifying tasks and providing assistance in various areas.

Survey Reveals Alarming Trend for Laid-Off Workers

During the COVID-19 pandemic, severance packages were more commonly offered to laid-off employees, with about two-thirds of organizations providing them in 2021. However, recent data from a survey by Randstad NV indicates that this practice has declined post-pandemic; now, less than half of global employers offer severance to all departing staff, a drop from both 2021 levels and the pre-pandemic year of 2019. In the U.S., only one in four companies offer universal severance, compared to about half in the UK and Germany. This reduction in severance comes as many companies, including big names like Citigroup Inc., are reducing their workforce and facing scrutiny over severance payments, notably the controversy surrounding X Corp., formerly known as Twitter, after Elon Musk's acquisition.

This Bloomberg article looks at how severance terms differ widely by company and role. There's also a trend towards internal redeployment programs to mitigate layoffs. However, many firms acknowledge over-hiring and recognize their vulnerability to repeating this cycle. Key takeaways include the decline in offering severance to laid-off employees post-pandemic, varying practices between different countries, and the growing inclusion of redeployment programs as an alternative to severance packages.

Hiring Predictions for New Grads

The latest insights from NACE's Job Outlook 2024 survey reveal a nuanced picture of the job market. Although overall hiring is projected to see a slight decline of 1.9%, remember that we're coming off a couple of years of vigorous job market growth, with 2022 hitting record highs. The report serves as a reminder to stay adaptable in your job search. Certain sectors like social services, engineering, and construction are even gearing up to hire more fresh talent.

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