Current Economy and the JMO Career Search – June 2011

The economy seems to be back on that roller coaster ride (it probably never got off of it) and according to the headlines, we may be in another dip, though not as drastic as 2009.  I am writing this post because I know that Junior Military Officers thinking about separating from the service are following the economic news from USA Today, WSJ, CNN, Fox News and more.  The news portrayed in these sources is about the macroeconomic news.  The purpose of my post is to provide the micro news.  In other words, what we are experiencing at Cameron-Brooks. 

First, a recap of the macroeconomics to compare what we are experiencing at Cameron-Brooks.  The unemployment rate fell all the way to 8.8% only to recently increase back up to 9.1%.  This number is a bit misleading, however, because what it does not tell you is the real unemployment rate.  The real unemployment rate includes the 9.1% (those unemployed and looking for work), those who are unemployed and not looking for work and those underemployed.  That is approximately 18%, and what the news media says is “sticky”, meaning it has not been moving down.  These are high percentages.

What the increase back to 9.1% unemployment and weak net job creation of approximately 54,000 jobs also does not tell you is that businesses actually created a projected 83,000 jobs in May 2011, BUT government cut 29,000 jobs.  (Go to this link: http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0000000001?output_view=net_1mth to see the spreadsheet for the Bureau of Labor Statistics that shows monthly job creation from since 2001).  You will note that although we have experienced an upward trend in job creation by businesses, the May job creation, though positive, was not nearly as high as expected. 

Finally, and in my opinion, one of the most important macro numbers for the JMO is the unemployment rate for those 25 years of age or older.  See picture below:

Yes, 4.5%, and this number as you can see has swung between 4.1 to 4.5%.  Pretty low, and in line with what we are experiencing at Cameron-Brooks.

As I write this, we are 4 days away from the start of our June 2011 Conference.  Although we are still finalizing the interview schedules, we expect the average number of interviews per candidate to be above 11 which is in line with the 11+ interviews we have experienced since the end of 2009, and well above the 8-9 average in 2009.  We have several new companies attending the Conference as well as long time clients.  We have some companies attending with 10+ openings and others with just 1 key opening and the total number of openings is still significantly more than the number of candidates at the Conference.

We have some companies attending who have not mentioned any economic effects, some that are not attending because of some uncertainty and waiting for a future Conference, and others that are attending despite economic challenges.  This is the benefit of having Rene Brooks, our President and CEO, being in the JMO recruiting business for 40 years and Chuck Alvarez having 15+ years experience.  Chuck and Rene manage our relationships with our clients and their total of 55+ years experience between the two of them allows Cameron-Brooks to have a wide breadth and strong depth of relationships with numerous companies from a wide range of industries to include (sample of those attending the June Conference) fast growing technology companies, telecommunications networking, oil and gas exploration, leading medical device companies, building and construction materials, electronics, consumer packaged goods, mining and materials, industrial gases and more.  Sample job titles for our June Conference include: Six Sigma Black Belt, Customer Service Manager, Account Representative, Clinical Specialist, Manufacturing Engineer, Manufacturing Supervisor, Applications Engineer, Service Account Manager, Project Engineer, Commodity Manager, Corporate Finance, Supply Chain Manager, Clinical Sales Representative, Brand Management and more.

I am not an economist (although I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night), but I will agree with the news that we have some more work to do to improve our national economic conditions.  Yet, we do have openings with leading clients and in a broad range of industries and positions.  If you want to make the transition or if you are already in the process of it, and concerned, my advice to you:  Prepare with the economy in mind.  This means:

1)      Read as many business books as you can.  Study up on Six Sigma, Lean, Project Management, Team Leadership/Self-Directed/High Performance Work Teams, and sales concepts.

2)      Prepare for challenging interviews.  Get a list of frequently asked interview questions, develop a strategy to answer them, write them out and REHEARSE!  Yes, I am capitalizing that to indicate I am yelling that word, because some JMOs ignore me on this.  You must practice your answers before you get to an interview.  They will sound good in your head but you will learn that they need a lot of work after you practice the first time.  How do you become great?  Disciplined, realistic practice with the intent to get better.

3)      Interview with every opportunity as if it were your only opportunity.  Treat every interview as unique and special.  Work hard to prove ability, interest and rapport.

Bottom line:  There are opportunities available, but the bar is high.  Prepare and interview with the economy in mind.

Joel Junker