By Lisa Parker

Much of America is trying to cope with this winter’s bizarre weather, including last week’s frigid temperatures. Michigan is no different. Yesterday, a layer of ice formed on streets where melted snow had frozen again, causing many businesses and schools to close. Reading through the list of closings, my attention is drawn to the organizations noting “non-essential employees need not report.” I’m sure the “non-essentials” are jumping for joy while the “essential” employees groan at the prospect of braving the elements. I’m wondering if the wrong group of employees is celebrating, however.

Though I understand the designation of non-essential, part of me can’t get past the irony. Organizations have many employees who are important and contribute great things to the overall operation, but who within a company is lucky enough to be viewed as essential? When you look back over the past few years, during an incredible economic storm, many companies have, for all intents and purposes, said “non-essential employees need not report.” They’ve made a strategic decision to get by with the critical few needed to weather the storm. Skilled individuals with great work ethics and meaningful contributions to their employers still found themselves with a pink slip in hand and struggling to shake off the absolute shock.

Now those same individuals are working hard to convince employers they are the best next hire for the organizations they target. They are doing a good job of showing they have a lot to offer, but many are still falling short of being viewed as essential. Employers are left thinking, “you’re great but we don’t HAVE to have you.” The candidates who can find a way to research the objectives of prospective employers and showcase how their skills and experiences are key to helping organizations achieve their goals are much more likely to be viewed as essential.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.


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