Hiring in this environment, I have to say, has been an experience unlike any other I've witnessed. My company, Red Door Interactive, is one of the lucky ones that have needed to fill new positions in order to keep up with our continued growth. However, a lot of the applicants have shown, and I feel to their misfortune, a certain element of desperation.
As understandable as that may be, I believe that level of anxiety is detrimental to both the employer and employee. I still proclaim that the right job and person for everyone and every organization is out there - or at least will be in the near future. The key is to avoid falling into the same pitfalls as others to ensure that both the applicant and employer are a good fit for one another. So before the next job interview is offered or accepted, I submit the following observations:
Stay at the right level
I'm of the strong opinion that this market is neither "an opportunity" for companies to take advantage of higher-level talent willing to work below their market value or one for potential employees to settle for less-than-challenging positions just to hold down a job. I know that if we hire someone for above the level we're looking, they're out the door as soon as things turn around. Additionally, there would always be a chip on that person's shoulder that said "I took a pay cut for this."
Focus on the right job
There are swift ways for someone to show that they are just looking for a position rather than a copy or career. An individual who applies for every open job a company advertises or fails to tailor their resume or application to the specific opening for which they're applying is a dead giveaway. Yet some companies feel that a person who does this is simply showing their willingness to do anything for the organization. In fact, the opposite is true; that the candidate most likely has very little understanding about what area of the company is most appealing to them.
Don't worry about gaps
Many employers are too critical about gaps in a person's work history, particularly in this economy where finding the right position while in transition may take longer than in years' past. In that same light, individuals should not be afraid to show them on a resume. Instead, I'll often look at how a candidate has kept up with the industry during those periods of time with things like attending relevant workshops or volunteering their time with quality trade organizations. Doing so illustrates their passion for the business as well as their drive for continued learning; two things we value highly at my company.
Keep your eye on the long run
Hiring and job hunting practices should never shift due to the prevailing economic winds; for such practices will be much more costly to both employers and employees. Rather, both parties should, first and foremost, remain true to their skills, values and goals, and select the right position or candidate for those reasons. Recessions will come and go, but companies and solid performers will continue to prosper if they keep a focus on what's best for them over the course of time.