Companies are hiring and American workers are quitting their old jobs at a faster rate. What does this mean for your job search?
The number of job openings increased to 5.6 million in December 2015 and employers hired 5.4 million people during the month, both up from November, according to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers, feeling more confident about job conditions, quit at the highest rate since April 2008.
The figures show that the market is ripe for a job switch, but gearing up for a hunt can be daunting, especially if you’ve already been looking for some time.
“We can get stuck in a job search rut, especially if it has been going on for a while,” says Melissa Venable, chair of technology committee for the National Career Development Association. “But it's important to be persistent and revisit your strategies periodically to see what is helping and what's not working.”
Here are six simple ways to help reboot a job search that has gone stale.
1. Know what you’re looking for
“It’s important for jobseekers to clarify what they are looking for,” says Paul Timmins, president-elect of the NCDA. “Is there a specific industry, specific job title or specific employer in mind?”
Timmins says narrowing your choices will make it easier to start the hunt, which otherwise can seem daunting. A job “dream board” also helps target your focus when searching, says Ladan Nikravan, advisor for CareerBuilder.
“This is a great way to visualize where you’d like to head next,” she says.
2. Shout from the rooftops
“All too often we get caught up in going it alone during a job search,” says Venable. Instead, tell friends, family and former colleagues about your job hunt. They may be able to introduce you to members of their professional networks, review your cover letter or resume, or provide emotional support.
Don’t forget to contact your most trusted professional connections, says Timmins. Set up an in-person meeting to go over your job plans and ask for feedback. They can also help you zero in on what makes you stand out as a job candidate.
Expand from there, says Venable, by meeting other professionals in person at local career fairs, professional associations in your field and alumni clubs. Timmins also recommends connecting with people in your industry via LinkedIn groups.
“If you join those, jump in on the conversations. People will reply to your messages and can become people you can connect with,” he says.
3. Use social media…
The benefit of social media is two-fold when looking for a job, says Nikravan. First, many companies and recruiters post their job openings via social media. Second, employers search for candidates using social media, so build up your reputation there.
“Tweeting, blogging and commenting about things you know builds up your credibility online,” says Nikravan. “When an employer searches, you want them to find a knowledgeable individual who can fit well into their company.”
4. … but don’t let social media sink you
Just over half of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates, says Nikravan. “So think carefully before posting anything,” she says.
Make sure your social media profiles are accurate, complete and up to date. Delete any inactive accounts. Set more social platforms like Facebook to the highest privacy settings, especially if you have posted controversial or strongly opinionated statements online.
“Employers will Google you,” says Timmins.
5. Make your resume stand out
First, update the information and focus of your resume. Don’t list responsibilities; instead, spell out your achievements, says Nikravan. “Mention specific projects and goals you met,” she says.
Don’t fall into the one-size-fits-all trap. Target each resume you send out, says Venable. “When you have a single resume document that goes out with every application you miss the opportunity to tell each employer how you meet their unique needs,” she says.
Venable recommends creating multiple resumes if you are looking for openings in different fields or industries. These are starting templates. Incorporate any advertised needs or qualifications, using the terminology the employer used to describe the position. And before hitting send, have someone in your field review your resume, says Venable.
6. Improve yourself
As you continue your job search, build new skills and stay engaged, says Timmins. That could mean taking on volunteering positions, especially those that use your particular job skills. If you’re a writer, volunteer to write grant letters for your child’s school or the weekly newsletter for your place of worship. Or, help craft press releases pro bono for a non-profit.
“One jobseeker I know got connected with the professional association in her field and is planning its spring conference,” he says. “There are limited openings in the field, but I think that it's just a matter of time for her. She is very talented.”