Now’s the time to get hired

Employment levels are at the highest in 10 years, which is great news for job seekers. So, how can you locate the right new job and avoid a conflict with your current employer all at once?

Right now is a good time to be a job seeker. On the heels of a recent CareerBuilder survey that 74% of employers say they plan to hire recent college graduates this year, up from 67% last year and the highest outlook since 2007, comes the latest monthly jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On May 5, the BLS reported the U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.4% — the lowest level since May 2007. These numbers are even better than expected, as economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected only 188,000 new jobs and a higher unemployment rate of 4.6%.

So, the good news is the jobs are out there — the question is: Are professionals finding them?

Workers were asked, “What is the toughest part of the job search?” Their responses:

Finding positions that I'm interested in

34%

Interviewing for the job

27%

Negotiating salary and benefits package

17%

Facing potential rejection

11%

Developing the resume and cover letter

9%

Something else

3%

Total

101%*

*Responses do not equal 100% due to rounding.

Source: Robert Half

Thirty-four percent of workers recently surveyed by staffing firm Robert Half said the toughest part of finding a new job is discovering positions that interest them, and unless they switch up where and how they’re looking, that won’t change any time soon.

Sasha Truckenbrod, branch manager of Robert Half in Madison, says job seekers need to focus on the “hidden” job market and alternative search tactics.

“Finding jobs through online portals or job boards can be a valuable way to find a variety of positions; however, the roles often get repetitive and may not target a candidate’s particular goals or interests,” Truckenbrod explains. “And while having a LinkedIn profile is crucial for job seekers to expand their professional networks online and demonstrate their tech savvy, there are more effective places to look for open roles.”

The weariness that job seekers experience when applying on one job site after another is understandable, albeit avoidable, notes Truckenbrod. Working with a local recruiter is one of the most effective strategies for job seekers to tap the hidden job market and quickly connect with employers.

“Because of their deep networks, recruiting firms often know about jobs that are available but have yet to be advertised. By working with a specialized recruiter, job seekers get in front of new and even upcoming opportunities that could be a fit for their career goals, and [the recruiter] can be your eyes and ears in the job market. Recruiters can also offer insight into the current hiring trends, professional skills in demand, how to make yourself more marketable, and where to focus your search.”

Out of hiding

Job seekers can also access the hidden job market by cutting out the middleman and contacting companies directly to express interest, says Truckenbrod. She advises job seekers to be proactive by identifying and researching companies that are of interest.

“By reaching out to companies you’d like to work for, you may be able to land a job at a company that isn’t even [currently] hiring. By getting in touch with a hiring manager or department manager directly, they may be able to tell you of any upcoming openings, and at the very least you’ll have their attention and stand out for your interest in potential positions.

“If possible, offer to send your resume for future consideration, and end your conversation by asking if they know of any other companies who may be hiring for similar positions/projects,” Truckenbrod adds.

Employment levels are at the highest in 10 years, which is great news for job seekers. So, how can you locate the right new job and avoid a conflict with your current employer all at once?

 

Grow your network

Effective networking is a skill that often requires practice, and for younger or less experienced professionals online networking might seem like a more comfortable alternative to the in-person variety.

Truckenbrod says while online networking can help you find employment, the primary goal is to make connections and develop relationships that might lead to referrals.

“Networking is one of the most effective ways to identify job leads, especially those that are not being advertised widely,” she notes.

When networking, it’s important to keep these tips in mind:

  • Make consistent networking a habit, not just something you do only when you need a job. By including this practice in your normal routine, you’ll automatically increase your chances of hearing about opportunities. Stay in touch with former colleagues and keep adding new LinkedIn connections.
  • The cardinal rule of networking is: Give before you get. Forward articles you think could be helpful to people you know and pass on job leads you’ve heard about. Networking is about building genuine professional relationships, not asking for favors.
  • Make it easier for people to help you find a job. When you’re talking to contacts who might be valuable for your search, tell them about the kinds of positions you’re looking for and the employers or fields that interest you. Then follow up with emails so they’ll have handy takeaways summarizing what you discussed.

“Make it your goal to speak with five or six people each week for advice, helpful information, and job leads,” suggest Truckenbrod. “Always be polite and courteous, and be prepared to return the favor. The more people who know you’re looking, the greater the odds that someone you know will eventually come across a lead from their own contacts, or be able to point you toward companies that might be interested in your skills.”

Truckenbrod also says it’s not out of bounds to ask friends to spread the word about your talents to their larger circle wherever it’s appropriate.

Flirting with disaster?

Many job seekers are already employed, and that can make for an awkward conversation if your current boss finds out you’re auditioning elsewhere.

“Looking for a job while still employed can be risky business,” says Truckenbrod. “It may work out if your boss finds out — he or she may even decide to offer you a better deal to keep you around — but that’s rarely the outcome. Being discovered might make for an awkward situation or even an early ejection, which could be difficult to explain to your next potential employer.”

The best approach to a job search while still employed is to keep your efforts under wraps. Here are a few tips from Truckenbrod on how to be discrete on the hunt:

  • If you’re on LinkedIn, turn off the function that notifies your contacts about your updates — your colleagues will notice that your resume just got flashier and may wonder why. Also, use common sense — don’t use your work computer, email, or phone when applying for jobs.
  • It's great to have an active network of contacts, but it’s important to be cautious when tapping those contacts during your job search. You never know who knows whom, so carefully weigh the risks and benefits before approaching someone. Or play it safe and avoid familiar territory by networking in a new industry, location, or sector. A little diversity might be good for your resume down the track.
  • If your work attire is casual, don’t show up to the office in your interview suit. Instead, change at your gym or in the bathroom. Also, don’t tell your colleagues you’re even contemplating a job search, or they may just start eyeing your chair, which could be vacant all the sooner if they let slip your plans to the wrong person.

“When you’ve finally found that perfect job, completed all interviews, and have received an offer, then you can deliver the news about your resignation to your manager in a respectful way,” concludes Truckenbrod.

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