One of the most basic concepts a student of economics learns is the law of supply and demand. That law describes the effect that the availability and the supply of a commodity has on the price of that commodity. So, if the demand is high and the supply is low, we would have what is known as a sellers market. Those who have the commodity can extract a higher price for the commodity when the supply is limited and the demand for it is high. Conversely, when the demand is low and the supply is high, those who are the buyers have the upper hand in any sales transaction.
Prior to October, 2008 we were in a strong seller's employment market. The demand for skilled, experienced, talented people for many different jobs was high. There were more great jobs than great people to fill them, so those who were interested and/or available could be very selective in the job hunting process. It was not unusual for good candidates to have several interviews in their field and to get multiple job offers as a result of those interviews. Candidates were very selective for one simple reason...they could be.
However, on October 8, 2008 the stock market tumbled as some of the giants of investment banking either went out of business or saw their market value drop when the housing market "bubble" collapsed. Trillions of dollars of investments, owned by both institutions and individuals, vanished over the next few months. Layoffs, consolidations, "downsizing" and liquidations became the norm rather than the exception, and in very short order the seller's market that we had seen for the previous several years turned into a buyer's market as jobs disappeared and millions of workers found themselves unemployed.
Many organizations that were not hurt as much as many others saw the market conditions as an opportunity to rid themselves of marginal workers and to cut expenses just in case economic conditions continued to decline. Others took the opportunity to automate, upgrade technologies, and put more and more machines to work doing the jobs that people had done before the economic decline started. Within just few months, millions of employees who thought they would be in their jobs or at least with their employers for the long term in some capacity found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly in the job market.
The result of the market turmoil and the accompanying job losses was that the numbers of people employed declined sharply, and since that time we have been in a strong buyer's market.
While one of the most basic concepts in economics is the law of supply and demand, one of the most basic concepts in marketing is that when demand conditions change, there must also be a change in promotional strategy. Simply put, the strategies and tools that a job seeker could use effectively in the seller's market are not at all effective in a buyer's market.
A job seeker today who uses the same style résumé that was common in the seller's market will not find it to be nearly as effective in a buyer's market. The job search strategy has to change to accommodate the new market conditions. It is no longer enough to have a résumé that simply provides name, contact information, work history, and education. There is no shortage of skilled, qualified people. Organizations want to know much more about the person than just the basic information. They can afford to be very selective because there is a large supply of skilled candidates, but not that many great jobs.
You have only one chance to make that critical first impression. Don't waste it with a résumé that you have to dust off and simply update your contact information. It will need a lot more changes than that to be effective in a buyer's market. Take the time, and if necessary, be willing to invest the money, to do it right.
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