Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Previews of Coming Attractions

This is the time of year when all the talking heads, online and off, TV and print, are making their excuses for 2005 and/or their predictions for 2006. Always fun to see, hear, and read.

The Fed notes that were published recently indicated that they were about finished in terms of pushing up the interest rates and the market closed up 129 for the day. We also see things in magazines like BusinessWeek that tell us things like factories are using nearly 80% of their production capacity; the highest rate in 5 years, and that's without counting what is going on in high tech production output. They also seduce us with info like: The Business Roundtable's CEO Economic Outlook Index rebounded to its 2nd highest level since the survey began in 2002. All very cool and comforting.

Our own data that we have been collecting on the senior executive marketplace uses different data and different words, but comes to the same conclusion. We think 2006, from an economic growth perspective, should be a good one and that means expansion on the jobs front as well.

One of the ways that we see all this is based on the mix of our membership. In bad times, the number of employed but sniffing around members drops as they want to keep their heads down. (Not a great strategy, but human nature nonetheless.) When the market starts to turn, the percentage of these folks who come back to the network rises, and this has been the case here for the past 18 months or so, and doesn't seem to be slowing down, not even over the holidays.

Another way we track this sort of thing, aside from talking with members all the time, is to talk with recruiters continuously as well. For years we have done a survey of recruiters that translates to what we call the Recruiter's Confidence Index and it too continues to rise.

To state the obvious, someone who's employed has to be far more circumspect in terms of how they go about trying to find out if the "grass is greener." True, there a gazillion job boards, but how comfortable someone feels firing off something on a job board is a different issue. Besides, even if they felt reasonably comfortable, responding to a posted opening, it is still about the most competitive situation in which one could place himself.

So what's the alternative? Make a new year's resolution to expand your network. Over the years, when we hear from our members who make a change, 70% of the time they tell us it happened as a result of networking. No time you say? Nonsense. When you have a weapon that is that potent, you can and should make the time.

You are probably the member already of a professional or industry association. Get active! Be more than a name in the member directory. How about personal interests? Chances are the time you spend with family is also tied to organizations, be they political, social, charitable, recreational or faith-based. Get involved!

Woody Allen had it right: "80% of success is showing up."

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