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Everyone’s an expert

Everyone’s an expert

Another frustrating week in the hunt for the next contract. It’s clear that there is still a fair bit of work out there for the taking. Sadly it’s also clear that there are an awful lot of people out there trying to take it and competition is very strong. But it seems to have had at least one side-effect; you must only apply for a job if that’s the job you’re already doing.

You can accept that if the role is in say Finance, then clearly you do save a lot of issues taking on someone who already works in Finance, since they would know the regulatory and business environment. Actually it turns out an awful lot of openings are in Finance since the only people with the money to spend are the banks. Wonder where they got it all…

Anyway, I digress. Taking someone already in an industry vertical, while frustrating to the outsiders looking in, is quite understandable. However, the market now sees to be taking this to a whole new level which is what causes the frustration: no matter how good you are at what you do, if someone doesn’t want you to do exactly the same thing for them that you’re doing now, then you have a problem.

I’ve talked before about the whole agency candidate-finding process being reduced to a box-ticking exercise in an attempt to get the flood of applications down to manageable levels. This also saves them a lot of money themselves of course, since the bulk of the work can be delegated to fairly junior researchers who don’t actually need to understand the role or the candidates.

So getting a role is now totally dependent on what it says on the CV. And that is where it all starts to go a bit wrong.

If your CV is to stand a chance it has to be a very close match to the original requirement. Sadly, however, with the laziness of the average agent, a lot of the job specification doesn’t make it to the advert; probably takes too long to cut-and-paste it in to Broadbean or whatever they use to set the adverts up. Given a career history like mine that is pretty wide ranging, I then have to work out which bits to highlight in the first page summary on my CV – no agent bothers to read the detailed job history any more – to stand even a vague chance of getting past the first filtering process at the agency, never mind getting passed on to the client. And if the advert misses a key bit of information, then you fail at the first hurdle.

As an example, I put an application in yesterday evening and around midday today I finally got to talk to the agent about the role. Too late! It seems the role was largely about recovering a programme of work that was not delivering and needed a total shake up. “But you didn’t ask for that, and as it happens that’s what three of my last four roles were mostly all about, fixing and successfully delivering broken projects” I pointed out. One of which, incidentally, was worth around £250 million.

“Ah but”, was the reply, “You didn’t state that explicitly so I didn’t pick it up. Sorry, but I’ve already sent in all the CVs I’m allowed to”. End of conversation.

So there in a nutshell is why good people are sat on the bench. This whole market needs a different approach. And that’s something I will talk about next week.

Meanwhile, anyone need an expert is anything?

Alan Watts can found at LinkedIn.
© 2010 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Image: Experts Only by Ross Mayfield

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