Job Hunting for the Risk Manager

Article excerpt

MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS, divestitures, industry downturns and management downsizings these, and a multitude of other factors, create job insecurity. And considering the persistent recession that's plaguing the economy, and the number of middle management positions it has sheared from U.S. organizations, many executives are haunted by the prospect of finding the dreaded pink slip lying on their desks.

This trend to downsizing has also affected risk managers. For although the risk management profession has grown in stature over the last decade, and many risk managers enjoy positions of prominence in the upper tiers of corporate management, various internal and external environmental changes have forced some firms to either eliminate the risk manager's department or downscale its role in the company. As a result, some risk managers are now either unemployed or unhappy in positions with diminished or limited job responsibilities. Those who find themselves in this position - and even those who do not-should prepare for that awesome task: the job hunt.

GETTING STARTED

Looking for work is in itself a full-time job: It takes a great deal of organization, patience, perseverance and plain hard work. Many job seekers turn exclusively to the help-wanted sections of local and national newspapers, believing they are conducting a full job search if they use The Wall Street Journal and the National Job Weekly. This passive, haphazard approach seldom succeeds.

A total job hunting strategy requires developing a specific plan. This systematic approach involves identifying skills, talents and weaknesses, preparing a resume, then seeking out those companies with needs that match. It is also important to develop a "delivery system" to convey the qualifications to those companies. When a meeting with a company has been secured, the next steps are to prepare for the interview and, if an offer is made, to make the negotiations necessary to procuring desired benefits and nailing down the job.

Before beginning, the risk manager who is looking for work must turn him or herself into a marketable commodity; this means not only knowing the intricacies of the profession, but also having demonstrated professional competence by teaching at the local college in courses such as ARM, CPCU or other IIA programs, publishing articles in trade publications, or participating in risk management seminars or conferences. Similarly, the risk manager should have a network of contacts accumulated through various business functions as well as community activities such as the United Way, chamber of commerce committees and social service events.

As a starting point, risk managers should obtain a popular book on the subject of finding a job. There are several good ones available; perhaps a librarian or book store employee will recommend one. Many of these books outline a system or method for finding the right job; others deal with a particular aspect of the job hunt, such as resume preparation or interviewing techniques. These books will give a general idea of how a well-organized job search is conducted.

THE SKILLS GAME

Job seekers must realize that it is their responsibility to discover their skills and aptitudes. As a result, identifying one's basic skills is the first, crucial step in any successful job search. The popular book What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles contains a section on identifying skills and ranking them, from elementary ones such as taking instructions and helping and serving people, to sophisticated skills, such as supervising and networking. By pinpointing definite skills, the job seeker can find the types of positions that would best fit his or her abilities. This approach also allows the job seeker to explicate these skills in a job interview; for example, a person who determines that he or she has excellent organizational skills can say to the interviewer: "I can keep things organized and on track even when I'm faced with great distractions. …