With low unemployment creating a multitude of opportunities for job seekers, here’s how to leverage this strong economy during your job search.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment among American workers stands at 3.9 percent — the lowest in nearly two decades. Low unemployment and an increase in the number of available jobs has created a market that favors job seekers. However, that doesn't mean you should stick to the same job-search strategies that might have worked during an economic downturn. When the job-search scales are balanced in your favor, here are four things you can do to make the most of it.
Apply for “reach” jobs
With the number of available jobs at a high, that gives job seekers more freedom during their searches. Knowing that you have room to play with means that you can apply to jobs that are typically a stretch for you regarding qualifications and experience — and employers are more likely to consider you because they have a number of roles to fill.
For example, if your management experience is limited to mentoring others or leading projects, you might still be a good fit for a team management position. Companies who are having a tough time finding and keeping experienced managers may consider you for a management role and provide management and leadership training to fill the gap.
In this economic climate, there are many open positions available, so you have the luxury of shopping around and considering only those positions that deliver what you're looking for in a job. You can limit your job search to those positions that offer the best commute, compensation, and career-growth opportunities for you.
While it's never a good idea to take an interview or job offer for granted, it does make sense to set the bar high for your next position and negotiate the best possible offer. Highly qualified talent is hard to find, so when you know you're worth it, make it clear to hiring managers what you want and need in your next role.
Continue building your network
Your professional network is a valuable source of advice, personal introductions, and information sharing. In fact, your network can be your secret weapon for a successful job search — in good times and bad. During an economic downturn when jobs are scarce, your network might be the only reliable source for discovering and being considered for new job opportunities. On the other hand, in a strong economic climate, there will be many other avenues besides your network to help with your job search.
Related: The Importance of Networking (And How to Do It Well)
Even when times are good, however, don't forget your network. You might not need to call in a favor from your network now, but you'll need to stay connected so that you'll have options if you need later on. No matter the current economic environment, it makes sense to continually make new introductions, give and receive advice, and deepen pre-existing relationships.
Think about a career reinvention
In a strong economy, companies are growing and adding new jobs to accommodate their expansion. If you've been thinking about changing industries or pursuing a different career, now may be the time to act. Jobs are plentiful across a range of industries. For example, the education and health services sector alone created more than 54,000 jobs in July 2018.
While pursuing a different career comes with some associated risks, you can improve your chances of success by exploring your options when employers are in aggressive hiring mode rather than when they're cutting back. Your current employer may also be adding jobs and have opportunities available internally. For example, if you're in a sales role but would like to gain experience in data analysis or research, there may be an opportunity to rotate into a different department within your current company. Alternatively, if you're interested in launching a new career in another industry, the plentiful supply of available jobs will give you more opportunities to choose from.
A job search in any economy presents unique challenges and opportunities for candidates and employers. During times of job growth, it's a “seller's market” that benefits job seekers. You can make the most of a favorable job market by carefully considering your options, aiming high, and remaining open to new paths to job-search success.
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