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Careers Today–Keep Pushing the Search Despite Bounty of Jobs

In a hot job market where it seems the main characteristic needed to be hired in many cases is a measurable pulse, why bother to perfect job search skills?

My advicd: keep dancing as fast as you can.

Most of us have forgotten the lean times in the last century and the youngest of us never knew anything but prosperity. “Pounding the pavement” became old hat along with the rise of the Internet.

But that doesn’t mean people who hire aren’t looking for the biggest bundle of talent they can get for their money , human nature doesn’t change as fast as technology.

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The chief reason to recommend a hard- hitting competitive search is to land not a job, but one of the best jobs in the cluster to which you aspire. You can kick back and accept on a platter a mediocre quality control job, for instance , or you can try harder and climb the quality control food chain.

When you have high-demand skills, are satisfactorily employed and are on the upside of 40, it can be a good strategy to allow recruiters to chase after you to better position yourself to negotiate maximum compensation. But you can’t count on that always happening and you don’t want your search skills to rust.

Another question I’m hearing informally about the state of the job market relates to third-party services: Will career planning and management professionals (apart from academically prepared and certified career counselors) become part of the service mix for an increasingly mobile work force?

Some people say yes, that talent-managing professionals are evolving much like sport, literary or theatrical agents. Basically, these agents take charge of clients’ job lives. Some talent agents already serve a few executives and senior technical professionals. Forecasters predict they’ll be found in most professions within a couple of years.

Some observers believe in this era of easy Internet recruiting, employment agencies and headhunters are threatened but will survive by operating career management talent agencies.

These talent agencies would provide candidates with career coaching and guidance and, on the other side of the desk, provide employers with an in-depth knowledge of how the clients’ businesses thrive with an influx of the best candidates who are referred from the agencies’ rosters when openings occur.

The idea is that the new-style talent agencies will become very specialized and focused on candidates with a narrow range of skills, such as Java programmers for E-commerce companies in the San Francisco area. Presumably these agents would collect fees from both the employer for recruiting services and from the candidate for career management services. So if you were a Java programmer who wanted to work in a top San Francisco E-commerce firm, you’d have to be netted by a third-party talent agency that would recommend you to the employer; you’d pay an ongoing fee to the agent.

My crystal ball is in the repair shop but I disagree the talent agent business is going to happen in any big way reaching down to mid-level jobs. The structuring is too rigid and employees are going to resent paying out a chunk of their earnings , a kind of lifetime tax , to stay employed or move up.

–Joyce Lain Kennedy

Kennedy is a Cardiff-based syndicated writer and author of career guidance books. E-mail career questions for possible use in this column to her at (jlk@sunfeatures.com).

& #352; 2000, Los Angeles Times Syndicate

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