Opinion

Opportunities in your backyard

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Print this page By Beth A. Berk, CPA, CGMA, independent recruiter

Whether you live here, have lived here, vacationed here or just driven through on your way elsewhere, I think you will agree with me that Virginia is a beautiful state. For those who do live and work in Virginia, have you stopped to notice what and who are in your backyard?

When job seekers come to me, especially when there are potential commuting challenges or location limitations or they have been with their same employer for many years, I tell them to take out a map and draw a circle showing where they are willing to drive each day. I also suggest that they drive around within that to find out who is in their backyard in terms of types of employers. From my experience, most people who are working tend to be focused on the job in front in them, and are not even aware of what types of businesses are in their backyard! 

For employers, especially those that seek specifically skilled workers and may be located in smaller cities or towns, ideally they would like to hire those who are in their backyard. Assuming an employer does not wish to wait too long to hire or contribute toward relocation costs, what can a hiring professional do to attract or find a qualified skilled workers who may be in their backyard?

Many people need to work longer than expected and are potentially overlooked because they look overqualified on paper. But hiring professionals may be missing out on a great pool of potential employees.

I have learned, as have some of my clients, that hiring experienced workers turns into a true win-win situation. From my experience, many workers who have “been there, done that,” so to speak, are extremely happy when they can find an opportunity that allows them to contribute their knowledge and skills in an environment where they truly can add value.

Too often I see hiring professionals project from their own vantage point and career experiences. They will make assumptions about why someone may not want to work in the role they are offering or take what they perceive as a salary cut. They may also be holding out for a specific list of requirements that may not be easy to fill with less experienced workers, as opposed to looking at transferrable skills. It is also possible that the staff tasked to review resumes may not be able to see the forest through the trees.

Based upon where someone is in his or her career lifecycle, one’s needs and wants change, and hiring professionals should consider this in their hiring process. So how does a hiring professional find this out without spending too much time to screen potential hires?

I would advise job seekers to write their résumé in a way that tells a story, accounts for all of their time (even if in summary form for their early career, while accounting for gaps), uses language that describes the roles and duties they have performed and what they have achieved, and includes the industries they have worked in and descriptions of their employers (e.g. privately held, family-owned, publicly traded, nonprofit, etc.). Job seekers should also use words that speak to transferable skills, quantify where necessary and even include why they left each job.

Job seekers should research employers of interest, inquire about an informational interview, network within their communities and more.  I would also suggest that you consider what I sometimes refer to as the “non-sexy” industries that offer stability, especially in today’s market, and industries where there may be less competition. 

I wanted to come up with an acronym opposite to “NIMBY”, which stands for “Not in My Backyard” for those Virginians who want to be a part of the “in my backyard” movement. I came up with “WIMBY”, “Working in My Backyard”.

Maybe you can create your own “in your backyard” acronym and movement or join me in my movement and philosophy. To employers and prospective employees, good luck in finding the right fit in your backyard!

Beth A. Berk, CPA, CGMA, is an independent recruiter who lives in Bethesda,  Md. She can be reached at BethABerk@msn.com or at 301-767-0670.


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