It’s Time to Dive into the Job Market

More than 800,000 people jumped into a robust labor market in February 2018 — with unemployment hovering at 4.1 percent for the past few months — making it a perfect time to start looking for a new job if you’re not too happy in your current one. Right now companies have to work harder to find talent, so if you’re one of those people ready to explore your options, consider the following suggestions as you dive into your job search:

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1. Spend time thinking about your work self. How do you want to spend those 40 working hours each week? Freud said the key to happiness is meaningful love and meaningful work. Don’t shortchange yourself — being miserable at work is bad for your health! Think hard about what type of work is going to truly engage you while providing the necessities (decent pay, generous benefits and culture). Once you’ve determined the type of new position that allows you to thrive, target a company and a specific open position.

2. Go to the job boards to find the specific position — Indeed, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, Monster, Simply Hired — and review postings carefully to ensure you are qualified for the job. Once you have determined that you are qualified, go directly to the company website to apply for the job. By applying through the company website, you send a message to the employer that you are generally interested in that particular company — rather than taking a shot-gun approach. Employers want you to want them, so don’t disappoint. Show interest and enthusiasm for what they have to offer.

3. Write a resume that sets you up specifically for an open position, making sure your keywords match up with the job posting skill-for-skill. While some “smart” recruiting platforms are doing a good job of matching employees with companies, you would do just as well with the job hunt if you did your own sleuthing. Do your research. Read job postings very carefully. The primary purpose of your resume is to secure a face-to-face interview, so make sure you’re qualified for the job by including relevant keywords on your resume. (See for specifics on writing a great resume.) You won’t get an opportunity to sway the hiring manager that you’re the perfect fit for the job unless you have a resume that first gets you in the door.

4. Always follow the employers’ protocols — exactly. So if the employer wants you to go through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), do it. If the employer wants you to send them a Word document via email, then follow this directive. Although most resumes are created in Word documents (that’s the new standard), if the employer requests a PDF, then that’s what you send them. A client of mine got a great job after noticing a fax number on the Indeed job posting. In addition to applying for the job through the company website, she faxed her resume to HR. It was the faxed resume that got the hiring manager’s attention. In spite of what the career experts may recommend, you’re better off figuring out how the specific employer wants you to apply for the job. Follow directions to the letter.

5. Be prepared for several interviews before you get the offer. Nowadays it’s not unusual to have one, two, three telephone interviews before you ever sit down face-to-face with a hiring manager. Be prepared for the telephone call(s) — and if you’re running to catch a train when you get the call, politely ask the person if you can call them back when you’re more composed. If you are lucky enough to be called in for a face-to-face (or two or three), be prepared. Know a lot about the company where you plan to work before the interview. Examine the company website. Create a Google alert for the company and read all relevant news articles. Get workplace insights on Glass Door or Kununu. Your interview should be a 50–50 exchange of information, so make sure you can ask relevant questions. And do not ask about pay or benefits until an offer is made. (Some companies may even disqualify you if you bring up the topic of compensation ahead of time:

The job market is really humming right now. If you’re not satisfied with your current job, now is the time to start looking for another. Don’t delay. This job market won’t last forever.

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