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HOUSTON — “I never thought I would be looking for another job and I certainly didn’t think it would take me as long as it has to find a new one.” 

callingThat is a phrase I frequently hear these days. It is a reflection of several factors:  business consolidation, tightening job markets, legacy industries facing a digital wave, as well as local economic conditions.  Regardless of the cause, it is taking a toll on executives who appear to be suffering an intellectual disconnect between knowing that the job market has changed, and continues to change, and a sort of stubbornness to ignore reality by doing what always worked for them in the past.

The other day a long-time friend called to vent his frustrations with his job search.  It had been more than year since he was laid off in a post-merger consolidation.  Not only was he not getting many calls from recruiters, but the big dark hole — the corporate web-based applicant submission sites — were just as maddening.  “I don’t think I have had one response for 10 or 15 applications I have filed.” 

After he ran out of emotional steam, I asked a couple of questions and it didn’t take long to figure out the problem.

  • When was the last time you updated your ACHE profile in the College’s membership database? Silence.  I knew the answer because while he was complaining about how inept the recruiters were, I looked at his ACHE profile.  The last update was two jobs ago.  The email on his profile no longer worked, and the telephone number was that of a previous employer. 
  • Tell me about your LinkedIn profile?  How often do you interact with colleagues?  How big is your network?  When was the last time you posted?  He said he did not have a LinkedIn profile, or if he did, he didn’t remember putting it up.  He in fact did have a page but there was no useful information.  That is worse than having no page.
  • How much time do you spend each week developing a professional network?  He was too busy doing his job.  Besides, he didn’t think he needed to worry about his next job.
  • How many telephone calls a week are you making to current or former colleagues?  How often have you reached out to industry executives you have read about to establish a networking relationship? I asked this question since he had not used LinkedIn to build a professional network, the only remaining options were email and the telephone.  He said he was uncomfortable calling people he did not know. 

Recruiters — the search firms and the in-house headhunters — were not calling my friend because his profile — also known as professional digital footprint — was non-existent.  For all practical purposes, my friend did not exist in the world of potential candidates. 

When I pointed this out, he continued to diminish the importance of LinkedIn and even his failure to maintain an updated ACHE profile.  “I have a good reputation, a good track record.  Why should I have to do all this silly stuff?”

You do these things and a lot more  because that is how today’s job market works.  If you do not create an impressive professional digital footprint, how would anyone know that you can help them solve problems? 

I value my friendship — and I wish I was working on a search that matched with his expertise — but I am concerned.  His age and attitude are sending him down a pathway to early retirement.    

He didn’t like the sound of early retirement.  He said he would try to adapt.

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