I recently went through a job change myself. After being a longtime devotee and advocate of “all things globalization” at Hewlett-Packard, I found that moving to a new city and having a second baby brought the question of starting a new career front and center. I looked at some of the things I had done and at things I would like to do, and I faced that moment of reality for myself: where do I turn to find a new job in the localization industry?
I contacted the people I know, scoured job ads, and went on a few interviews. Since I have worked as both a vendor and a client, I had some varied perspective. I wanted a job where I would make a difference and where I would fit in with the culture.
I eventually decided to use a recruitment agency, although I was a bit apprehensive. I’ve heard regretful tales about either getting completely ignored or getting my unsolicited resume mass e-mailed to companies.
Lucky for me, I happened upon a recruiting firm in the localization space. Inger Larsen and Gretta FitzGerald are the founders of Larsen Globalization (or rather “Globalisation” as they say). They have been in the field for a number of years in Europe, with interests in the US. I say “lucky” because they asked me to join their team and support the US market.
I did join, of course, but had that offer not materialized, I would have continued struggling down the dreary— and financially straining—path of looking for new employment. And since part of my job in this new position is to help people through this same reality, I have put together some ideas that can help you.
Maybe you are someone who is on the market, or maybe you are a hiring manager. Maybe you are a hiring manager who is also on the market. In either case, these tips are for you.
FIRST, HOW IS THE MARKET FARING FOR LOCALIZATION?
Generally speaking, about 75 percent of the vacancies we manage are for the vendor (or supplier) side of the business. This is easily explained: most localization activities are outsourced to vendors by clients, and most client companies employ people only in vital positions. So the majority of openings in this field will be on the vendor side.
Any job on the client side will be attractive to for experienced client managers and to vendors looking to hop the fence. Generally speaking, client-side jobs pay about 10 percent more than vendor positions. Individual contributor and mid-manager openings might find themselves listed on the open market, but the higher ranking positions in client-side localization are few. And most often they are filled from within. In other words, these jobs are competitive and coveted.
For those who desire the client side, remember that the grass might seem greener, but be warned—there certainly are weeds. Even though it might seem appealing to run the show, choose the suppliers, manage the projects, give direction, and so forth, there is a whole dimension of being inside an organization, trying to pull off localization and globalization, that is particularly challenging.
For those of you already working on the client side, there can come a point when you hit a ceiling, or you grow tired of waiting for the next senior opening. In those moments, we encourage you to look on the vendor side.
Generally speaking, the vendor side offers far better career opportunities for localization and globalization professionals. There are more complex hierarchies, more people management opportunities, more technical and product-development positions, and a greater variety of geographic locations to choose from.
As well as offering an array of permanent positions, vendors have also started hiring contract staff. From a recruitment point of view, we have mixed experience with this scenario. Most candidates want the job security, commitment, training, and career advancement typically included with permanent positions. As a result, the best candidates might not consider contract positions, and the quality of candidates in the pool for contract positions can reflect this.
There are times, however, when all parties find a contract situation desirable. For example, Larsen Globalization is currently seeking contractors for a large gaming company. To date, we have successfully placed several people from smaller vendor companies. For these candidates, a six- or nine-month contract with a large player will look good on their resumes. The experience and exposure will make it easier for them to find their next ideal jobs.
Traditional sectors, such as automotive, medical, and IT, are doing as well as they ever have. They replace headcount lost to attrition, they expand in times of growth, but they also downsize in times of decline. This is the normal ebb and flow of recruitment.
We have seen large growth in the online traveling, tourism, and interactive games industries, with expansion on all levels, including very senior positions. We have also seen growing demand from the financial sector.
Another growing sector is online gambling, but they usually hire people off the street—with the quality of their localized sites reflecting this trend.
ADVICE FOR JOB SEEKERS
- Know what is out there—even if you like where you are. At Larsen Globalization, we have many candidates in our network who are already employed and quite happy in their current positions. Still, they want to know about positions that come up. They like to know they have options. If something especially enticing appears, they can apply at low risk. From my point of view, this approach is always very healthy. It was my view even before I started recruiting. It fosters motivation and a healthy sense of possibility and adventure. It is a good way to peek your head up from your laptop. Chances are, you will change jobs at some point. When you become serious about it, being familiar with the market will give you an advantage.
- Stay plugged in to your professional network. Essentially, staying plugged in means paying attention to the people you meet at events or conferences and reading publications to see who is writing on topics in your field of interest. When you need to, call such people or send an e-mail to ask for advice. Or ask for an informational meeting or for referrals. When approached in a respectful and appropriate manner, most people in your network will be very glad to help when they can.
- Update and polish your resume (résumé), or your curriculum vitae (CV), as it’s more commonly referred to in the recruitment arena. Tips on improving your CV are numerous enough to become an instruction book on their own, but the following quick points are valuable to consider. And remember, for each position, a vast number of CVs will be reviewed. Usually, something pertinent needs to be known about you in order to be considered for a position.
- Format of your CV should be clean, clear, and easy to scan.
- Be informative, but not wordy
- Include measurable, tangible information, instead of vague characterization: We like to see things like, “Reduced spend by 30 percent in the first quarter.” Or “Managed a team of eight people and a budget of $4 million.”
- Avoid statements like, “I am a people person who likes to multitask.”
- Specify the kind of position you are looking for. (Otherwise, we do not know how to pair you with appropriate openings.)
- At the same time, try not to be too specific. (If you keep your options open, more opportunities are open to you.)
Since Larsen Globalization works across geographies (US, London, Dublin, and Paris), we enjoy the differences in CV content among locales. In the US, for example, we wouldn’t consider including our marital status or whether or not we have children. Also, we likely wouldn’t include a picture. In the UK, a British candidate would rarely include elaborate explanations about how wonderful he is at everything he does, as is the style in the US.
- Have realistic expectations. The perfect job might not be there at the precise time you need it. But being connected, engaged, and proactive can only work in your favor. Additionally, the more experienced you are and the higher your level of expertise, the longer it might take for you to find a new position. Have faith, but be patient. Keeping a realistic outlook on the process will help.
ADVICE FOR HIRING MANAGERS
- Write a clear, competitive job description. Our advice is to write a job description that is clear about the salary level and benefits. Make sure the position sounds attractive, but not simply through an inflated salary. Make a special effort to sell the job and the company. Too often, we get bland job descriptions that do not highlight the great strengths of the organization or what it offers. Remember, you want to attract the best candidates to your company. You want to stand out in the industry.
- Have realistic timeframe expectations. Hiring the right person can take some time. It is important to be realistic and plan accordingly. From our experience, it typically takes two to three months to fill a position with an optimal candidate. Some positions can take six or more months. As we recommend with the candidates, have faith and be patient. The right people will find their way to you.
- Consider the best pool for candidates. Even though we are a recruiting firm, we do advise that companies also look internally to fill their openings. Promoting people from within sends out a positive message to your employees that there are career advancement opportunities in the organization and that you value the talent you have.
If you can’t find anyone internally, or you decide that you need a “fresh perspective,” there are some tips in this area. While we find recruiting to be great fun, it is also very hard work. For each applicant we put forward, we typically will have reviewed between 20 and 100 candidates. And these are pre-qualified folks already in our database. If you decide to do staffing independently, you will need to focus your advertising and job postings in the right places. And ideally, you should plan to filter a large number of candidates.
- Consider the best type of recruiter. If you are looking to hire or looking to be hired, a recruiter can be a great resource. There are different types of organizations in the industry, so choose the type that works best for you. Larsen Globalization is what would be considered a specialist organization; we focus specifically on the localization and globalization industry. All of us have prior experience in the industry as vendors, clients, managers, strategists, or producers. Thus, we know the particular needs of this community, and it works to our advantage to stay focused on it.
There are “generalist” organizations that recruit in this space as well. But they also recruit for other industries, like IT or general executive staffing. A generalist organization might have a broader reach in more areas, which is good if you want to cast a wide net, but be cautious of businesses that are “CV factories.” As a candidate, you don’t want your personal information blasted to every company with weak mail filters. And as a hiring organization, you will not want to have to filter through volumes of inappropriate candidates.
Staffing and recruiting is an organic process. The perfect position or candidate can appear at any time. With some strategic planning and advanced consideration, you can make the process of finding a new job or adding talent to your organization much more effective and inviting.
By Denise Spacinsky,