Land careers, not jobs: author

In the wake of recent layoffs and cutbacks in the Canadian tech industry, many knowledge workers are on the prowl for a new job in their chosen sector. As unemployment rises and career opportunities shrink, out-of-work IT professionals are finding it difficult to discern the skills and qualities that can set them apart from other candidates, according to David Perry, managing partner of Perry/Martel International Inc., an Ottawa-based recruitment firm specializing in the technology sector.

Perry, who has written a tell-all guide that details how knowledge workers can land the career of their dreams, has also spent the last 15 years as a professional recruiter.

Drawing on his personal experience and understandings of the inner workings of the employment world, his book is filled with insider tips and tidbits offering guidance to candidates looking for work.

The book, entitled WorkInsight, offers readers practical exercises to help enhance and define skills and strengths, as well as to hone personality traits and motivations. Perry said the reason for writing the book was twofold.

“I am on the board of directors of the Western Quebec Education Foundation, which was set up to raise money to pay for an English public high school,” he said. “At the same time I had a whole host of friends laid off from Nortel who were coming to me looking for advice for jobs. I had committed to the foundation for writing a book on hiring practices, and…I got about 80 per cent through the first book when I realized that no one was going to buy it because everyone was getting laid off.”

Perry reverse-engineered the book and developed WorkInsight with a portion of the proceeds going to pay for the school, which is short half a million dollars needed to operate.

In writing the book, he admits that his motivations were not purely selfless. Although he did say the top priority now is to get as many people back in the right jobs as possible, he added that recruiters do much better when there is a shortage of qualified workers, not a surplus.

In order to ensure that happens, Perry’s book articulates suggestions for candidates hoping to land their dream job. He said the basic thing to remember is to focus on establishing careers, not jobs.

“I think (candidates) need to understand that jobs are temporary and careers are permanent,” Perry said. “They have to learn how to be their own head-hunter and manage their own careers. They have to literally learn to find their own opportunities.”

In WorkInsight, Perry also suggests that it is imperative for workers to be able to articulate their own value to a company.

“There are an awful lot of people who will take a job because they absolutely need to, and they have no idea what they are worth and don’t know how to negotiate that.”

Perry maintains that those seeking jobs in the tech sector are better off hitting the pavement on their own instead depending on recruitment agencies for opportunities.

“Recruiters are very good sales people but they have very little knowledge of the tech industry,” he said. “Now that we are into a recession, recruiters…are being very selective about who they present for opportunities.”

And, he noted, there still are opportunities available. Although he said that the manufacturing, hardware and software industries are feeling the brunt of the tight wallet, he said that ironically, e-commerce is taking off.

“[Companies] are starting to hire IT people to put in serious e-commerce functionality on Web sites,” he said. “We talk about a recession and how much unemployment we have, but when you look at it the other way, we are at six per cent unemployment, which means 94 per cent employment. People forget that the money that had been spent over the last couple of years didn’t disappear. No one took it out to a big pit and burned it. It still exists and is waiting to come back into the economy.”

Perry’s WorkInsight is available in soft-copy format for US$20. Visit to download.