Lady Gaga, step aside: The top hiring and workplace trends to watch for 2011

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Lady Gaga (Photo by loritingey on Flickr)

Trends indicate the general direction in which something is developing or heading – and from Lady Gaga’s tendency to don outlandish outfits (ahem, meat dresses), to the urge to turn serious news events into auto-tuned viral videos (thanks, “Bed Intruder Song” creator), trends seep into our lives and surround us on a daily basis.

The world of hiring and the workplace is no exception to these phenomena  – a new CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,400 hiring managers and 3,910 workers nationwide identified 10 key trends in business, hiring, work culture and job search to watch out for as we kick off a new year.

How do these trends affect your job search?

By finding out what employers are focused on for 2011, you’ll know how to focus your job search and can walk into an interview armed with key knowledge of where employment is headed. Being on top of hiring and workplace trends may help you stand apart from your competition and score that perfect job. And it doesn’t hurt to be aware of the probability that a company will offer you relocation expense coverage, be receptive to something like denim attire in the office, or consider your talents in “emerging” roles like social media management or green energy – knowing those things help you set up realistic expectations for your future role.

Let’s get right to it – here are the 10 top hiring and workplace trends to keep an eye on in 2011, according to survey results:

1)    Shifting business directions: A whopping 42 percent of employers said their company has changed its business direction as a result of the recession. The majority of these employers kept their core business, but added new revenue streams – although 27 percent of those who shifted direction said they changed their core business altogether or expanded into areas that will eventually become their core business.

What this means for you: Be aware of what’s going on with the company you’re courting — has it changed its business drastically, even since you applied to a position? Do you know as much as possible about both the company’s core business and any new areas into which it has expanded? Do your research so you’re prepared to ask relevant questions in an interview situation.

2)    Working leaner:
Thirty-five percent of employers said their current staffs are smaller than pre-recession levels.  Of those employers, most don’t foresee adjustments to headcount in 2011, with 57 percent reporting that they have become used to handling the workload with less people.

What this means for you: There’s a good possibility that if you are hired, you will be wearing more Lady Gaga-style hats than you did in a previous job. As many companies are surviving with fewer employees, the employees they do have are likely expected to take on heavier work loads and work effectively with teams or individuals they may not have worked with pre-recession. Ask questions during the hiring process to get a clear sense of what will be expected of you should you get the job, and decide whether you’re comfortable with longer hours or duties outside your comfort zone before accepting the position.

3)    Changing jobs: Workers are becoming more optimistic about their job prospects in 2011.  Fifteen percent of full-time, employed workers are actively seeking a new job, and 76 percent said that although they are not actively looking, they would change jobs in 2011 if the right opportunity came along.

The majority of workers aren’t necessarily focused on a bigger paycheck, either. Sixty-eight percent said affordable benefits are more important to them than salary.

What this means for you: While you’re looking for a job, consider what your ideal employer would be like. What kind of company culture are you looking for? Which benefits are most important to you, and which can you live without? Is that pool table in the break room a must-have, or do you really just need health benefits and supportive co-workers? Determining your deal breakers and thinking about the type of work environment in which you’ll be most happy will enable you to gear your search toward employers who fit the bill — and save yourself from getting the wrong job.

4)    Creating new functions: Along with more traditional job opportunities, employers are adding new functions within their organizations in response to popular movements.  Jobs centered around social media, green energy and health care reform are just a few of these “emerging” roles being added in 2011, and hiring managers reported that “cyber warriors,” whose roles are to protect Internet sites from security breaches or fraudulent activity, are in high demand as well.

What this means for you: Are you looking for a career change? Find out more about emerging jobs; one of them may be a great fit. Even if your experience doesn’t mesh with a new type of job that interests you, becoming knowledgeable about the position and talking to people who are in the field is a great starting point. From there, you can decide if you want to pursue the industry further.

5)    Video interviewing: With smaller recruiting staffs facing larger numbers of job applications, employers are turning to technology to help find the right candidates. Six percent reported they have conducted video interviews with potential job candidates, while 11 percent plan to do so this year.

What this means for you: Practicing with technology like video interviewing will help you get one step ahead — and it’s easy to do. You can use a camera you have at home, borrow a friend’s, or try it with a webcam. Even practicing in a mirror helps you watch your facial expressions, listen to your tone, and hear the words you say out loud. And if your potential employers interview you the old-fashioned way, you’ll still be more interview-ready and conscious of your words and mannerisms than you were before.

6)    Less moonlighting: While making ends meet is still a challenge for many U.S. households, fewer workers are reporting the need to work more than one job. In addition, only 12 percent plan to take on second jobs in 2011, compared to 19 percent in 2010.

What this means for you: If you’re working two jobs now and your new employer doesn’t offer you a significant pay raise, you may still find that two jobs is necessary. But if working two jobs is severely affecting your family life or health, it may be something to consider when looking for a new job. Focus your search on finding a job that will cover your financial needs, or talk to a potential employer about your situation — they may be able to offer flexible scheduling or telecommuting options for you.

7)    Taking a global perspective: Nearly one in five U.S. employers (18 percent) reported they will be hiring for their operations in other countries in 2011, while 5 percent stated they will likely recruit workers from other countries to work in U.S. locations.

What this means for you: The work force is becoming increasingly global, and it’s important to be aware of changes happening within your company as well as your industry. Are other employers in your industry moving a lot of jobs overseas? Know what’s going on so you’re prepared for future changes.

8)    Relocating talent: Of workers who were laid off in the last 12 months and found new jobs, 23 percent relocated to a new city or state. For those looking to relocate this year, good news: 33 percent of employers said they would be willing to pick up the moving tab for select candidates this year.

What this means for you: If you are interviewing for a job out of your area but concerned about moving costs, it’s worth asking your potential employer if they will consider covering any employment costs. If your passion and enthusiasm for the job shine through, an employer may be willing to make that investment if it means getting you onto their team.

9)    Promoting without pay: Forty-one percent of employers are concerned about losing their top talent as the economy improves. While the majority of employers plan to increase salaries for existing staff in 2011, 39 percent will not be providing raises.  As a gesture of recognition to employees without pay increases, however, 13 percent are offering higher titles.

What this means for you:
Know that with the current state of the workplace, a new role won’t automatically mean a yearly raise or promotion, although those perks are a possibility. If you have worked hard to get a raise and it’s not in the cards,  you may want to discuss a title change with your boss. A higher title, although not monetary recognition, still signifies great career progress — and it’s progress everyone at work can see. Remember, you don’t know unless you ask.

10)    Going casual: Employers are becoming more relaxed about set schedules and dress codes as they work to enhance the typical work experience. Fifteen percent reported they will allow for a more casual dress code, and 33 percent expect to offer more flexible work arrangements like telecommuting and alternate schedules in 2011.

What this means for you: Don’t assume your future employer is pro-flip-flops or funny t-shirt Fridays, but observe others when you are at an interview, and ask your interviewer (or an employee you pass in the hallway) what the company culture is like. Is the vibe casual or corporate? Are jeans frowned upon or celebrated? Make sure you’re comfortable with the dress code before you sign up to wear it every day.

Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, offers his take on the trends:

“The recession produced fundamental shifts in how companies and workers view the market. “Businesses are becoming more agile and changing direction.  They’re operating leaner and recruiting for opportunities in emerging areas.  Workers are transitioning to new fields, are more open to relocation and are more apt to consider opportunities outside of their current employers.”

Tell us, what do you think of these trends? Will these change the way you search for a job this year?

4 Comments
  1. Great article. 42% of employers said that their companies have changed direction was a key finding. It really means that you can’t just rely on the company website for background on the organization you are applying to. You need to see what are the stories in the media about your target companies and what their employees are saying. The more you know before you go in about the company’s new direction, the easier it will be to get the job.

  2. Thanks for reading, David — and great point. Candidates must research a company, just as a company researches them prior to an interview. Not all information will be found on a company’s website, and by going into an interview prepared, knowledgeable, and able to ask questions about the position and the company, candidates can really set themselves apart.

  3. Pingback: Only Bangalore Jobs » Blog Archive » A smaller paycheck today, a retirement plan tomorrow

  4. Pingback: A smaller paycheck today, a retirement plan tomorrow » Techie Masala

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