G. L. Hoffman is Out in the Real World Where There Are Jobs

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Today’s guest writer is G. L. Hoffman. He is a serial entrepreneur and venture investor/operator/incubator/mentor. Two of his companies have traveled the entire success path from the garage to IPO. Currently, he is chairman of JobDig, which operates LinkUp, one of the fastest-growing job-search engines. His blog can be found at WhatWouldDadSay.com.

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A couple of weeks back, Susan Joyce of Job-Hunt.org mentioned a twitter fight she had with someone from Irving, CA.

She was frustrated because some guy argued, “There are no jobs in Irving. None!”

Nothing that Susan could say could convince him that yes, there are jobs in Irving.

Every day, HR people, career coaches, resume writers and even bloggers hear all sorts of hard luck stories from job seekers.  I asked Laurie if I could look at data from LinkUp and answer the question, “Are there jobs out there?”

Laurie picked three cities for me. Philly, Miami (Lebronville) and Houston. My goal was to find out of there are jobs in those cities and to learn about what the local experts think of the local labor market.

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First up, Philly.  Paul Smith sent me some good background and articles on his city.

A junior at Penn, Amy Smith, summarized what many in Philadelphia know to be true, especially in her generation:

As a junior at the University of Pennsylvania, I am particularly attuned to the state of the current job market.  Summer is quickly approaching and Penn juniors are eager to find internships. March has been a grueling month of sending out cover letters and resumes into a seemingly empty void, from which there are hardly any replies. One dear friend has all but given up on her job search and seems to be relinquishing her near-future to last minute contacts, luck, and the inexplicable powers of the universe. Another friend put in a hefty late-March effort and sent out fifty applications in a single day.  Stress sets in. Parents preach patience and point to the struggling job market.

The State of the City report reinforces the structural cause of our panic.  Philadelphia lost 11,500 jobs in 2009 alone.  The remaining 651,000 jobs are a record low in the city’s modern history.  In December, the unemployment rate was at a high 10.6%.

And worse: whole sectors of the job market are collapsing. Mining and construction jobs have declined by 21% and manufacturing by 41%. Fields of particular interest to my peers, such as information, government and finance, are also struggling. These markets shrunk by 26, 12 and 18 percent respectively. However, jobs in education and health services are strong; the market expanded by 17% in 2009.  Meanwhile, in my dorm, we wonder how to match economic trends to our diverse interests – English, anthropology, even marketing.

Paul advises, “In Philadelphia, one can still find a reasonable paying job and pay a reasonable amount for amenities.  Plus I’m hard pressed to think of another city the size of Philadelphia that is two hours away from two of the most important cities in the world, New York City and Washington D.C.”

So true.

I did a quick search using LinkUp by simply typing in “Philadelphia, PA” into the WHERE box. We take pride in only presenting jobs that are off company websites, so there are no dupes, scam jobs, or jobs from recruitment agencies. My search located over 7,100 open jobs currently available there.

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On to Lebronville (Miami) and expert John Nykolaiszyn. He mentioned that Miami is a place where one must absolutely know how to network.

If you can’t network, your chances of getting an interview are severely hampered. See, for all the glitz and glamour that people see on TV and in the magazines, it’s still a small town. Everybody knows someone or has a family member who works at most of the major companies here in town. You’ll find yourself at a dinner party or out at a restaurant or bar and someone will inevitably ask you where you work and they’ll comment that they have a friend, cousin, aunt/uncle, who works there. Or they’ll drop the name of some of the better networked executives in the community. When I worked for Burger King Corporation, this happened pretty much 8 out of 10 times to me when we were out on the town.

Job prospects do appear to be grim according to the Miami Herald. Miami remains one of the most difficult places to find a job, according to a recent report.

  • The report, which ranks cities by the number of unemployed individuals per advertised jobs, found that Miami job seekers outnumber job openings by a ratio of 9.73 to 1.
  • With nearly 10 job seekers for every job opening advertised online, Miami ranked 48th out of the 50 cities surveyed.
  • Washington, D.C., with 1.28 job seekers for every job advertised, was the best market for unemployed looking for work.
  • St. Louis, with 12.02 job seekers for every advertised position, was the worst market.
  • Miami-Dade’s County’s unemployment rate rose to 12.4 percent in May, and the county has more than 150,000 unemployed residents according to the state labor department.

While the situation in Miami appears grim, John does have some positive advice.

So from my perspective it takes a few things to be successful in this town. One, you’ve got to be networked. Online and in person. Second, you’ve got to leverage the technology correctly and I think people who use your site will absolutely have access to stuff that’s not on the other sites or aggregators.  Finally, it takes a plan, tracking every position where you submit your resume, following up at the right time, and a good bit of luck.

Using LinkUp, I found there were almost 2,500 open jobs.  Not nearly enough, but still I am betting a lot of the frustrated job seekers do not know about many of these since about 70% of them are NEVER advertised off the company’s own website.

Miami seems ripe for a job seeker to start his own company, perhaps. Alternatively, one might heed Seth Godin’s advice of “Don’t Even Try to Get a Job.”

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Houston, Texas, is different. There are over 9,200 open jobs available in Houston and you get the impression there are more hidden jobs.  Things are happening in Texas.

Franny Oxford, our expert and stringer for the day, chimed in.

The opportunities in Houston are amazing, but you have to go after them—anyone showing enough gumption to look past the typical job boards and learn everything they can about a potential employer will get much more attention than someone who just hits “apply now” directly from a “spray and pray” job ad.  Private employers are typically very proud of their brand, market position, and culture, so go do some digging and show the potential employer you have some of those Houston values: hard work, savvy, and an appreciation of the company’s uniqueness.

Even the daily paper, The Houston Chronicle, takes a more positive outlook of the local job market and are reporting on the adding of jobs in the area:

Even though the nation suffered mightily during the Great Recession last year, the local economy is holding up surprisingly well, based on the Chronicle 100 survey of the area’s biggest employers. Of the top 10, four (H-E-B, Kroger Co., Memorial Hermann Healthcare System and Continental Airlines) actually gained jobs.

In another article, the Chronicle said:

Houston has so far weathered the recession better than most of the country’s major metropolitan areas, according to a report released today by the Brookings Institution, which found that Houston’s housing prices were the most resilient in the country.

Despite a rising unemployment rate, Houston’s overall economy ranked fourth out of the country’s 100 biggest cities as of March, the report found, placing it just behind Austin and just before Dallas. Economists say Houston’s relative immunity from the housing bubble shielded it from the devastation other cities saw, and that the city’s specialized energy jobs also helped.

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So, what is the takeaway here?  Who cares? What does it all mean?  Who’s on first?  What’s in it for me?

Here is my takeaway.

  • If you are a job seeker, this article and the advice in here confirms what you already know, deep down.
  • There are jobs out there.
  • Obviously, someone is getting them.
  • Just not you.  Not yet.

Keep looking, keep doing your research on the economy and job opportunities on the internet, and read career blogs with the goal of converting their advice to action.

It’s hard work. It’s a full-time job to find a job, but those jobs are out there.

Don’t lose hope.

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