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How to get hired in a tough market

Whether you feel secure in your current job or not, it’s always wise to keep your job-hunting skills sharp in a tough market.

March 4, 2009  By Jennifer Brown

Recruiting experts in the security industry say that for those who have
had lucrative long-term employment it can often be a shock when they
find themselves in the unfortunate position of having to look for work,
especially during a downturn when competition is that much tougher.

Kevin Spagone, director of Reitman Security Search in Branford, Conn.,
has worked with Canadian companies looking to recruit and with
individuals looking for their next job (about 30 per cent of Retiman’s
business comes from Canada). He has this advice for those who find
themselves thrust into the job market:

Don’t take it personally
“Losing your job can be a tough thing to get over, but it’s in your
best interest to move on as soon as possible and adopt a positive
attitude, otherwise it will carry over into your job search,” says
Spagone.  And don’t take it personally if your years of experience
don’t seem to be landing you a job right away. “A lot of times it’s
just the business and what they’re looking for,” says Spagone. “We deal
with a lot of candidates that are frustrated. They are competing
against a lot of other talented folks out there. You might have 20
years of experience in the access control space, but the search might
be for someone in biometrics and you might be competing against 15
other candidates with experience in biometrics. It’s not personal — it
just is what it is.”

Use your networks
It’s hard not to think about yourself first, but think about what you
can do for the company you’re applying to. What was your impact on the
bottom line and how did you impact the organization you worked for?
“We tell everybody to leverage their network. Remind them what your
experience is and what you know about the space. Ask what they are
hearing and what would make you a better candidate?”

Be realistic about your skill set
There may be competition out there from those in the IT or
telecommunications sector looking for jobs in the electronic security
market. Your focus should be on understanding where these industries
are headed and where your strengths are. If you’re light on IT skills
maybe you don’t want to present yourself to a Cisco, but maybe there’s
room for you to run in an organization around the continuum of that
convergence learning curve.

Take the marksman versus shotgun approach
Don’t send the same resume to 50 different employers; you need a
tailored approach. Customize your resume to the job posting and
highlight attributes in your background that fit the job description.
“Don’t misrepresent yourself — don’t torpedo any opportunities you
might have at a future company,” says Spagone.


Responses from online postings and print ads can number in the hundreds
and while you may be qualified, it really is a needle in a haystack.
You need to make your resume stand out.

“Sometimes we’ll get a call because of a position posted on our website
and the person is 180 degrees off base. The shotgun approach might make
you feel better — you send out a lot of resumes and follow up — but if
you are going to do that, reach out and develop a prospect list first
and gain an understanding of why you’re a good candidate.”

In terms of targeting verticals that may be hiring, consider that
health care and education will remain robust markets in the downturn,
according to analysts Frost & Sullivan. Technologies such as IP
video will be big and while the market is still a ways off on analytics
it will come around so that’s an area you may want to become familiar

Smaller systems groups that are focused on IT integration are also doing well.

Be realistic about salary expectation
Spagone says there will always be a salary/experience ratio
expectation, but ultimately if the skills are the same as someone with
five years less experience, the money will probably be the same. “If
you were in a sandwich shop and had 23 people making sandwiches in
front of the shop and we brought you in from another sandwich shop,
we’re starting you at the same salary.

“I think you will see salaries flatline for some time, but if an
employer wants the right person they will have to keep wage equity in
mind,” he says.

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