How To Find A Job In An Outsourced Economy

April 2004

by

Randall Scasny

I think no topic gets the dander up of an unemployed job seeker than hearing about the "outsourcing" of jobs. Just hearing about it can make you feel like you've hit a dead end. So, how can you find a job in the U.S. when jobs are being transported abroad to places like India or China?

Boy, I'd rather be writing about how to write a better resume or how to field those tough job interview questions!

I know a computer professional that bemoans the end of his career because of what he reads in the newspaper. He will go on about how companies are not playing fair.

But after he attended a recent computer professionals meeting, I asked him how many of the attendees were unemployed. He quickly responded that they all had jobs.

I had dinner the other night with a dear friend who works for a bank. She talked about her job, you know, the shop talk that we secretly love to hear.

She told me the head of the information technology (IT) department quit out of the blue and the bank was hiring someone to replace him plus several other computer positions.

I could give a few more examples of the ups or downs of the job market. But the short of it is: the outsourcing of jobs has really not changed the job market that much. People quit. Get hired. Get laid off. Even, get fired. As the world turns...

If you are having difficulties finding a job, I think the worse thing for you to do is make decisions based upon news stories or government statistics. These things are too global and do not necessarily apply to your local situation.

How could a local bank consider hiring computer jobs (or do any hiring at all) when I read today on CNN.com that Bank of America announced it was going to lay off up to 13,000 workers?

Think local, not global.

That's exactly what this neighborhood community bank is doing. It's responding to an underserved market in Chicago's neighborhoods. It is opening seven new branches this year, my friend told me at dinner. And it will need to hire people to staff those branches!

Why?

Well, my guess is because of the boom in home mortgage refinancing because interest rates are low.

If you were a bank and wanted to benefit from this trend, where would you locate yourself? Downtown Chicago on top of a tall skyscraper? Or, right down the street where homeowners, who pass by the bank everyday to and from work, live?

Not all jobs can be sent off to India. First, there are a lot of costs involved with setting up overseas operations: the high costs of high-speed transcontinental communications, training and maintenance of business relationships.

Many companies do not have the money nor the desire to do it. That's why the best estimates of "outsourced" jobs overseas is between 2-10 percent of a U.S. workforce of 130 million. That's not much.

But those numbers don't tell the whole story.

In a dynamic economy as large as the U.S., it is normal for jobs to be created and eliminated on the order of millions, regularly. The news reports my computer professional friend complains about tend to miss this fact.

The other reason why more jobs aren't being sent abroad is a lot of times outsourcing doesn't pan out.

In an article by Michael Skapinker of The Financial Times, he writes, "An international survey by PA Consulting last year found that 66 per cent of companies were disappointed with their outsourcing contracts. Only 39 per cent of the companies said they would renew contracts with their existing outsourcing suppliers and 15 per cent said they planned to bring services back in-house" (Unhappy with Outsourcing, The Financial Times, October 14, 2003).

The way you find a job in an outsourced economy starts with believing you CAN find a job.

Once you're over that hurdle, you have to start applying proven job-hunting techniques.

Remember my friend who works at the bank and said they are hiring? Well, she told me about other open positions, too. She told me this secret: the bank only likes to hire people they know: friends, family, etc...

Some people may call the above statement unfair. Before you judge, take the time to understand why they do it (many employers do) and you'll discover something about proven job-hunting techniques.

I know from listening to her that they did hire someone they didn't know. They fired her less than two months later because she would not do her work. She was irresponsible.

This company has learned the hard way that employee referrals send them not necessarily the best qualified workers but the most "workable" ones.

So, get out and contact your friends and family. Use your personal networks at health clubs, churches and volunteer groups to gain employment.

Oh, there's one more thing you should do. Repeat after me: Think local, not global.

Use that short phrase as your job-hunting mantra or slogan.

If you're having a hard time finding a job, re-focus your job hunt to industry sectors and companies who are serving local markets like the neighborhood bank my friend works for. If they are looking to hire people for jobs right in the community, the outsourcing factor becomes irrelevant.

Another thing you can try is to sing a song (or at least hum in the shower.) Start with Sheryl Crow's song, "A change would do you good ..."

Change the way you are marketing yourself.

If you are a computer programmer or system designer, try retooling your resume and cover letter for a different role such as, service or sales support. These departments would relish having someone who has actually designed products on their team. You will provide a firm base of knowledge that everyone could enjoy, including the customers.

No one giving job-hunting advice can promise a job simply by waving a magic wand. But I think that's what a lot of job hunters want.

You don't need a magic wand to get you a job. However, you do need to be proactive: target a market, determine what the market needs now (not 1, 5 or 10 years ago when you started your career and they were writing code in COBOL or building hardware before the age of the integrated circuit). Call on the people within a company or organization who need you. Be persuasive. Be innovative.

Innovation by smart, talented and enthusiastic workers is what creates jobs in the U.S. economy.

Good Luck in Your Job Search.

References

Note: These references are links to articles about the Outsourced Economy.


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