Op Ex & Lean Six Sigma / Facilty Design & Management

Three Job Tips for a Rainy Day

AstraZeneca recruiting director Jeff Harvey and recruiter Tom Bramswig offer tips for keeping your skills sharp and being ready just in case any layoffs are announced at your company.

By Jeff Harvey, AstraZeneca, and Tom Bramswig, Pharmaceutical Careers, Inc.

These days, you never know when downsizing and layoffs may creep your way. Experts agree that, no matter how secure you feel in your current position, you should be staying sharp and gauging what’s happening in the job market.

Here are three tips to keep you prepared for a rainy day, courtesy of two industry recruiting and HR experts:

1. Stay skilled and current.

In a market where firms are looking for employees who can step in and have an immediate impact on a team or project, you have to hone your skills to match the marketplace. “Your only security is your ability to interview for the next position,” says Tom Bramswig, head of the recruiting firm Pharmaceutical Careers, Inc. “Younger people especially are realizing that. You have to be ready to move.”

Most savvy job-seekers have three or four targeted resumes, AstraZeneca U.S recruiting director Jeff Harvey. This way they can portray themselves as being the perfect fit for a variety of positions.

2. Keep yourself out there.

This is easier said than done, especially in an industry where the extroverts gravitate towards sales and introverts towards manufacturing. “Manufacturing professionals tend to be introverted, nose-to-the-grindstone people,” says Bramswig, “and that has to be overcome.” Networking is critical, he says. Stay in touch with your best contacts. Drop them emails on a regular basis.

There’s a philosophical shift in how firms are tracking down candidates, says AstraZeneca’s Harvey. College visits and recruiting fairs are in the past, he says. Instead, HR professionals are networking with abandon, going beyond traditional employee referral programs and getting in touch with anyone who might have a friend of a friend with the right stuff. This includes mining professional organizations. “The war for passive talent is at a very high level,” Harvey says. “There’s so much competition that we have to go out and find folks.” With limited budgets, HR staffs like AstraZeneca’s are doing themselves what they used to pay search firms to do.

3. Consider consulting.

Lean, agile firms are looking to consultants more than ever to meet specialized needs. “This is the biggest change I’ve seen in the market in the last few years,” says Bramswig. Rather than hiring full-timers, firms are taking full advantage of, and creating a burgeoning market for, consultants.

“Our internal headcount is managed more closely than ever before,” says Harvey. He says his HR staff is turning to consultants more and more, and contractors less and less. “When the work still has to get done, you need to supplement your staff somehow,” he says.

Having no other choice, more and more mid- to late-career professionals are signing short-term contracts with their old companies or hanging out their shingles, seeking opportunity and a semblance of security. Being a hired gun is the best way to find work right now, Bramswig says, and often leads to something more permanent.

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