The economy is picking up steam – slowly, but surely less people file for unemployment and there are actually quite a few job openings out there. But while the market is improving it is still far from being really good. Not enough people feel ready to make the move from an existing job just yet and so what we are seeing right now is just the tip of the iceberg really. For the job market to really get into full swing people with existing jobs need to get going and make career moves. But those folks will only make the move if the new opportunity is either irresistible or if the job market feels right – which it does not for many of them. It’s like the chicken and the egg thing – what came first?!
In addition to some job fields not ready to pick up, the few jobs that are out there, do not necessarily pay enough. While some exceptions apply, a test I did shows that some employers are taking advantage of the current job market and are pushing down salaries. Some even lay off people and refill positions with contractors or temps and then finally fill them with new full-time employees for 20% – 30% less in salary.
So, if you are in the market to move from one existing job to another you will need some patience. But you can increase your chances by standing out from the crowd. I am currently involved in the hiring process for an IT specialist and it is amazing how bad some resumes look like. Is it really that hard to follow common standards for resumes? Is it really that hard to run a spell check on your cover letter and resume? In addition, people who I would consider junior to mid-level present them self as senior level IT specialists. Any good interviewer will recognize that and the chances of these people getting hired are slim to nothing. For the smart job seeker this is really good to know because if you put the necessary time in to make your resume stand out, you can blow away the competition easily. And if you should possess some actual skills and have some experience under your belt you will do just fine and should be able to land a new job with a good salary fairly easy. But have patience and do not settle for the first job that comes along if it does not feel right. Salary and the working environment should be right and provide a good a foundation to be able to stay for several years. If you do not like the people or if you have heard bad things about the company you are interviewing with, then wait things out. I always followed my gut feeling about a new job and (knock on wood) I have been doing Ok in most cases.
In this job market it is also extremely important to network with friends, peers, and former co-workers. Networking has become critical to find great jobs for many people. Not only can networking help to hear about open positions, but it can also be extremely helpful to avoid joining the wrong company. You will be amazed to find out that (example) the company with the super-shiny building downtown is actually a sweat shop and that employees are not treated with a lot of respect. Ask around and do your homework before accepting any offer. LinkedIn is a great tool to do networking and to stay in touch with everyone you know. Do not think that LinkedIn is like Facebook – treat it professionally. Set up a good looking resume, connect with people and do not post useless messages.
The job market might not look as strong as it was before 2008, but if you adjust to the different situation that we have today and have a little patience, then you will be able to succeed and can land a well-paying job at a good company. Don’t be too proud, it is actually Ok to turn down offers even when they look good initially. Spend the time to setup a proper resume and also use the spell checker to make sure your resume and cover letter are correct in grammar and spelling. Ask friends and family to read through your resume and cover letter, too. Most people will not do so and you can use this to your advantage. Best of luck in finding a great job.