Editor’s note: We’ve heard this in many forms, before. ‘You have to sell yourself.’ Poring through posts by people on LinkedIn who were openly lamenting their struggles with finding work, I got curious about how this could potentially be smoother for them. I wondered how much of it was the state of things, and how much was their approach. To learn about recruiting, I joined a LinkedIn group that focuses on Human Resources conversations. In these forums for HR professionals, I discovered a unique perspective from Kimberly J. Cozart-Gill, who is a senior recruiter for Duke University in Durham, NC USA. Here is a short Q&A that S P A C E did to find out more.
Dipika Kohli: I’m really interested to hear you talk more about this idea of ‘marketing’ oneself to land a job. Was it always that way?
Kimberly J. Cozart-Gill: It has not always been this way. The late 80’s and early 90’s was an “Employees Market” and what I mean by that is, everyone who put in an application was given an interview, whether they qualified or not for a position. Companies would try to entice you to come and work for them with a “benefit package” such as a “cafeteria plan,” which… would have daycare benefits, sick leave, vacation, more medical benefits, short term disability, long term disability, et cetera. [This plan] is no longer used.
Also, back in that time, companies paid for employee benefits: it did not come out of your check. Employees could have demanded what they needed for a job. Shift to the late 90’s and early 2000’s the market began to shift. [Suddenly], there was more accessible talent in the market and the question became, how did companies get that talent.
DK: It’s maybe my bias to presume things were different in the 90’s. Can you comment on this?
KJCG: The current market… is an “Employer’s Market.” There is so much talent that an employer can pick from that now the “Potential Employee” has to market his or her skills. All the benefits for employees go away, and now, as a potential employee, you have to explain why you are the better choice than the person who was here before you, and the person that will come after you.
The catch is, if you cannot tell me what your skillset is, and sell it, then no one can, because [only] you know how valuable your skills are.
DK: I wonder if you can share more about your background, as in, the history of your work this field.
KJCG: I have held multiple titles but I have always done HR… I began working in the workforce at 15 years old in retail back in 1984 as a teenager. I started in retail and noticed that my boss was always hiring, and one day I told him he hired the wrong people.
He realized that I was very good at reading people and trained me on interviewing. So even though I was a cashier, and a very young one, you still had to have my stamp of approval for a job. I worked there for five years and went into the Sears Management program. I have sold clothes, appliances, fencing, flooring, vacuum cleaners, and services. And I always ended up on the hiring team.
DK: Was there a shift that happened when people became more ‘commodities’ to be ‘marketing themselves’ than humans, to be collaborators?
I may be overly idealistic here.
This story continues in S P A C E.
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