If you were on the job market during the great recession, I don’t blame you if you’re a little risk averse when it comes to job hunting. I can relate.
In the late spring of 2007 I decided to quit a perfectly good job as a journalist to travel in South America. My wife also quit a nice job as a sales manager for a ski resort. We figured we’d visit my folks in St. Louis and get temporary jobs there to save money for the trip while spending time with family.
We arrived in the St. Louis area just as two of the largest area employers had laid off thousands of employees. After staying with my folks for a few weeks and not having much job hunting success, we shot back up to Montana to try our luck in my wife’s home town.
Eventually I took a job there as a waiter in a restaurant/casino.
This wasn’t a Vegas-style casino. This was a down-and-out, lose-your-paycheck-on-the-slot-machines casino with no windows.
It wouldn’t have been so bad, but 6 months earlier I’d been interviewing the governor, U.S. senators, and the heads of various federal agencies.
Now I waited on grumpy gamblers who left me 25 cent tips.
So yeah, I had a little regret about my decision to leave my old job. It’s tempting, if you went through a similar situation during those years, to just grab the first decent job you’re offered and hold on for dear life.
But I’m telling you, now is the time to take a look around.
We’ve got the lowest unemployment rate in 10 years, the most people employed, and a record number of jobs going unfilled. It’s also taking longer than ever to fill the average job – 29 days.
It’s truly a job seeker’s market out there.
Here’s some advice for taking advantage of it.
Know Your Market and Get Paid
Once I found my way out of the casino nightmare, I spent a few years off the job market. When I jumped back in the game last year, I did very little prep.
I had no idea what the market rate was for my job, or what the trends were.
I got lucky and did well, but after spending the last year working at a company that’s focused on helping other companies hire, I can see why you should really go into this with as much knowledge as possible.
Here’s the thing:
The people that do the hiring probably do it way more often than you job seek. They play the game everyday, you play it once every few years. Who do you think is going to play it better?
You can at least close the gap a bit by doing a little research.
Betterteam has put together this resource on job boards and career blogs that will help you know where you should be looking, the latest trends in your industry, what to expect for pay and where the best job opportunities are.
With this kind of info in hand, going back out on the market won’t feel like such a gamble.
Knowing about market rates for your job is especially important. Most good recruiters and hiring managers will ask you straight out at some point what you want to be paid.
You should know the exact answer, along with an explanation for where you fall in the payscale. They’ll also ask you your opinion on recent trends in your industry, and probably want you to name some examples of who else is doing good work, and why. Be ready to rattle all of this off on a moment’s notice, and you’ll look pretty darn good.
The Resume and Linkedin Redux
To someone who’s been on the job market, or just out of college and in the job seeker’s mindset, grooming your resume and LinkedIn profile probably seems like obvious, perhaps even stupid advice.
But when you’ve been off the market for a while, you start to feel like you shouldn’t need to market yourself anymore. You feel as if employers should just be able to see that you’re an experienced and responsible person, and you shouldn’t need to waste your time with such trivial things as resumes and social profiles.
The thing is, people in positions to hire are bombarded all day with slick resumes and well-managed profiles of people who are not qualified for the job. This is the main reason employers cite for taking so long to fill positions, or not filling them at all.
It’s gotten to the point where recruiters literally spend about 6 seconds per resume. If they find yours among the heap, glance it over, and can’t quickly sort out whether or not you’re qualified, your resume is toast.
And if it doesn’t match your LinkedIn profile, which they will be checking, you’ve also got a problem.
Go over your resume and make sure it’s very easy to spot the exact qualifications you have for the job you want. That means putting them in bullet points, and bolding specific skills.
Then go and review your LinkedIn profile and be sure it matches up.
Ok, that should give you a good start on your return to the work force. If you get a call back, be sure to read up on how to interview, so that you’re ready for that phase of the game.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Paul Peters is content marketer and job ad writer with Betterteam. Before Betterteam he spent 6 years building an education startup, where he was was involved with many aspects of the business, including hiring and marketing.