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Expert Advice on Jobhunting During the Recession
(27.10.2009)

By Elmira Alieva, The St. Petersburg Times

Original contribution on www.sptimes.ru

 

The Russian labor market has shrunk significantly since a year ago, with many companies having reduced their staff and completely stopped recruiting new personnel. The decrease in vacancies and increase in demand for jobs has raised competitiveness among candidates and made it more difficult to find a job. That is not to say, however, that it is impossible to find a job right now.

Recruitment agency experts offer a range of advice regarding job hunting techniques during the economic crisis.

 

Be active

According to statistical data, HR departments receive hundreds of CVs per day in response to a new position. To remain competitive in these conditions, candidates must triple their efforts to search for career opportunities on the market.

“These days you cannot expect a dream job to land in your lap while you are sitting in a chair and just wishing for that job to fall from the sky and be offered to you by a search firm,” said Yury Mikhailov, managing partner of Consort St. Petersburg. “You have to use as wide a set of means to find a job as possible to target companies, reaching them by phone, email, on the web or through newspaper ads,” he said.

“The essential condition in searching for a job is to be active,” said Lyubov Andreyeva, a consultant at Consort. “You shouldn’t wait passively for phone calls; you should regularly look through new vacancies, update your CV at recruitment agencies or even contact companies you are interested in directly. Moreover, you shouldn’t refuse to consider a vacancy that doesn’t really appeal to you. First of all, interview experience is always useful. And secondly, even if this vacancy doesn’t suit you, perhaps in the future you’ll be able to find the offer that you are looking for,” she added.

 

Develop your strategy

Job hunting could be compared to sales. Candidates have to develop their own strategy in order to successfully advertise and sell themselves to employers.

“What am I looking for?” is the first question that a candidate should identify. “First of all you should determine what kind of vacancies and companies you are interested in,” said Tatyana Tangisheva, business development director for HPS Group. “For example, if I look for a position as an HR manager, it is necessary to choose whether it should be a large or small company, international or Russian. I should also outline the tasks I would like or wouldn’t like to perform, and also for what kind of duties I’m competent. A targeted CV could significantly ease the hunt for a job,” she added.

Market research is step number two, when a candidate assesses the trends on the labor market in order to adjust their preferences and CV. Important methods of researching vacancies and salaries include job hunting web sites, newspaper ads, recruitment agencies, social networks and personal contacts.

“Search firms are still a major source for finding a challenging and well-paid job with larger Russian companies or western firms,” said Mikhailov. “With fewer positions to fill, recruiters can now spend more time looking deeper into the market and produce larger pools of applicants.”

It could be also useful to compare trends in different professional areas. Despite the recession, there are still some industries with a steady flow of jobs. “The tobacco, pharmaceutical and beauty/skincare products industries are still looking for personnel and qualified specialists,” said Liudmila Gordeyeva, a consultant at Consort. “Construction and automotive companies are hardly recruiting new employees at the moment.”

The choice of city is of no small importance. “Moscow’s HR market has always been more dynamic, aggressive and demanding, so you have to possess those qualities in your personal style to be successful there,” said Mikhailov. “When I talk to my Moscow clients they say for the most part St. Petersburg has a more laid-back atmosphere.”

Contacting companies is the next step, including sending CVs and letters, making phone calls and attending interviews.

“It is vitally important not only to post one’s CV, but to apply for various vacancies and include a cover letter,” said Darina Kalinina, business development manager at BusinessLink Personnel. “Choose the vacancies and make a call to the potential employer: make sure they received the CV, confirm the suitability of your experience to the requirements of the position, and clarify further actions,” she added.

 

Young and inexperienced

Mikhailov said there was a misconception that has become obvious during the past year. “The number of highly competent professionals has not increased much even though staff reductions were very serious last year and this past spring. The newcomers into the market are university graduates,” he said.

Specialists advise professionals with no work experience to participate in free trainee programs, internships in big companies and look at part-time jobs. “Doing an internship at a big company can greatly enrich one’s CV and ease employment,” said Kalinina. “There are universities, institutes and specialized secondary educational establishments that cooperate with big companies. These companies take on the best students for trainee programs with the potential for future employment. Accordingly, the student has a good opportunity to show their skills while they are studying, and get a job at a good company,” she said.

 

don't panic

Young or old, experienced or not, candidates should try not to panic during interviews. The fear of not getting a job or the interview going badly can cause problems.

“You have to be aware that the HR manager or company recruiter may also be stressed, and you should never react in a negative manner,” advised Mikhailov. “Be polite and tactful, demonstrate your understanding and seek to establish common grounds.”

While every vacancy has its own specific requirements, there are still some general qualities required to find a job, such as resisting stress and having confidence in one’s ability. “You have to use your self-assertion skills in the right way to project the image of a confident person who would be an asset to a prospective employer, even if you have been out of work for a couple of months,” said Mikhailov.



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