Whether you’re a recent college graduate seeking employment or a mid-career professional in transition, your prospects may have finally improved.
I recently saw a “help wanted” sign in a local shop on Main Street. I smiled to myself while suppressing my desire to tell every young adult I know that there was a job opening at the local Greek cafe! I’m hopeful the “help wanted” sign and our recent recruitment experience in transportation means it’s safe for us to share in some long-overdue — albeit guarded — optimism when it comes to improving employment opportunities.
The following is a look at the hot jobs in the transportation industry, current salary trends, strategies for landing a job and how social media comes into play when looking for, or maintaining, employment.
Hot Jobs in Transportation
Sales positions in all aspects of the transportation industry are in high demand. Most companies want previous experience in a particular sales territory, but because the pool of sales professionals is limited, hiring managers are getting more creative.
Some of our clients are promoting employees from support departments who want to learn the sales side of the business. They’re also hiring mid-career industry professionals who have considerably outdated sales backgrounds, but have an interest and a willingness to get back on the street selling.
The demand was so hot early this year that sales professionals could almost name their price. There was a flurry of hiring like we’ve never seen, and although the pace seems to have slowed, experienced, proven sales professionals in the international and domestic transportation sectors will likely always be desirable.
Current Salary Trends
Salaries in the transportation sector have remained relatively stable over the past few years, except for those high-demand sales professionals. We know companies that offered sales representatives as much as $30,000 more than their current base salary to join their sales ranks. While that scenario is a bit of an anomaly, the competition for the same people with the right experience in a particular geographic market with specific trade lane experience means hiring firms have had to break beyond the usual salary ranges and perks to attract desirable talent.
Strategies for Landing a Job
The good news is it’s so easy to apply for jobs online or to post your resume on job boards. The bad news is it’s just as easy for everyone else.
Here are some suggestions for getting the reader’s attention and some pitfalls to avoid.
-- Apply for jobs for which you are qualified: You should absolutely apply for a job if your background meets the minimum experience and educational qualifications. Before applying, consider the company probably has stringent standards. The odds of it being lax on a degree, years of experience requirement or experience in a certain geographic market are incredibly slim.
Don’t apply just to see if you get a response or because it’s so easy to do so. One of the quickest ways to discredit yourself and get your resume promptly tossed in the “delete” file — even if you might have suitable experience for other jobs within that company — is to apply for a position for which you’re unqualified.
-- The e-mail introduction: Make the subject line specific and relevant to the job for which you are applying by referencing a job code or the job title.
Don’t write a novel or offend the recipient. Realizing it’s tough to achieve in just one paragraph, a lengthy e-mail dissertation will work against you. Keep it brief — one to two paragraphs — and relevant.
Addressing the e-mail (and/or cover letter) to “Dear Sirs” is probably not ideal from a political correctness standpoint. Err on the side of caution and go the safe route (think “Dear Recruiter” or “Dear HR Department”) instead of offending the reader before they even have a chance to evaluate your credentials.
-- The resume: Consider aesthetics, be a stickler on spelling, provide keywords, keep it a reasonable length and be honest!
Make sure your resume is neat, clean and consistent. Highlight job titles and/or company names so it’s easy to see at a glance what your experience is.
Spelling reigns supreme! I recently read the resume of a young Tier I university graduate (think “Harvard of the West Coast”) who misspelled finance in one of the job titles.
Include some keywords on the resume (i.e., “intermodal operations,” “ocean carrier sales manager,” “3PL operations executive”) so companies will be more likely to find your resume when doing a keyword search.
A two-page resume is acceptable these days, but unless you have a pretty lengthy career, much more than that isn’t ideal.
Always assume the person reading your resume (or conducting your background check when you’re about to get an offer) will uncover any questionable information or inconsistencies. Include employment dates, even if you’re trying to conceal your “maturity.” Leaving out the basics raises some questions about openness and honesty before the credentials are even evaluated.
-- Follow up: If you’ve applied for a job for which your credentials are truly well suited, you should follow up by phone and/or e-mail with the hiring company or search firm. A company could be inundated with countless applications and your initiative and good follow-up might help differentiate you from the other qualified candidates.
Social media is an excellent resource for finding a job. Some jobseekers don’t even bother with the usual big-name job boards any more, but instead network through social media to more directly and personally approach the people who might have job leads.
On the flip side, recruiters and hiring managers are making good use of social media, too. A recent “discussion” on one of the “groups” I belong to centered on the appropriateness of recruiters contacting candidates on LinkedIn. An overwhelming majority of respondents were in favor of this method of contact and found it a nonthreatening and appropriate way to hear about job opportunities.
Social media also can be a liability when it comes to employment. As I tell my teenager, you can’t erase what’s posted online. When you’re applying to colleges or for a job or for a promotion, that information will be accessible — and for a long time. If you don’t want a human resources department, a current or future boss or colleague to see it, don’t post it.
Susan Dvonch is a partner in Shey-Harding Associates, a Seal Beach, Calif., executive recruiting firm. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.