Quicksand – Don’t Panic!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Apr 1, 2009 in Executive Coaching, Job Search, Thinking Positive |

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Last week, I attended a Hay Group presentation in Tysons Corner, VA where I was able to speak one-on-one with a variety of DC area Human Resources professionals.  While we all came to the event from different companies and backgrounds, we had one major commonality last week:  companies are struggling with decision making in the quicksand of our current economy. 

Hiring authorities in many fields feel they are dangling by a vine in the quicksand.  Many are scared to make too quick a decision, which may cause the sand to collapse around them, eventually smothering their career and/or the company.  Others have jobs that they just can’t locate qualified people for (like nursing and engineering) and are grasping at any and all available vines hoping candidates they find hanging there will ultimately pull them out of their understaffed situation.

The general consensus was that this analysis paralysis is the direct result of executives now being forced to bear an unlikely double burden.  Leading an organization in an uncertain economy forces them to make the best choices they can with the information they have available.  But that information is changing at the speed of light.  One day the stock market is up, one day it’s down.  One day their best client is signing a new contract, the next day the best client is being bought out. 

These leaders are struggling just like everyone else is with loss of retirement savings coupled with concerns about job security. Yet, for the good of the company, they are forced to put up a good front for the employees that report to them, making them feel safe, secure and ensuring productivity increases with fewer resources.  It’s a tough position to be in; hanging on a vine, hoping the quicksand will fill in beneath their feet, eventually buoying them above the danger back into business as usual.

According to a study published in the current issue of the journal Nature, it is impossible for a person immersed in quicksand to be drawn completely under. The fact is, quicksand is heavier than water so humans float in it. At rest, quicksand thickens with time, but it remains very sensitive to small variations in stress. At higher stresses, quicksand liquefies very quickly. The higher the stress the more fluid it becomes. This causes a trapped body to sink when it starts to move.

The problem is that we panic. We’re fearful of drowning and we do anything we can to prevent it, when, if we trusted general physics (and mother nature), we’d ultimately rise above the danger.

At the Hay Group event, I discovered most companies are still hiring, but they are inundated with applications, thus making them feel they have plenty of choices so they don’t need to be in a rush to hire someone.  Digging a little further, though, I found that the truth is that companies really are still seeing very few exceptionally qualified people in those piles of resumes.  Essentially, the inbox is full, but not with a high quality workforce, so they are unwilling to move forward until the perfect candidate surfaces.

As a job seeker, how can you rise above the quicksand to meet the executives on the vines?  For one, make sure you are only applying to positions you are qualified for.  My recent book TEN STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB discusses creative, unique strategies for navigating the new economy and conducting a well planned job search.  You can locate those executives, just above the quicksand, that need your help.  Get your resume right in front of them before they get sucked under by the pressure around them and convince them YOU are the person they should hire.
Watch a webinar on Job searching at: http://www.carolynthompson.net/jobsearchwebinar.htm

Carolyn Thompson

Author of TEN EASY STEPS TO A PERFECT RESUME…available on Amazon.com!
and TEN STEPS TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB…available on Amazon.com!  

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