This morning (Friday, May 5th) I saw a report that the unemployment rate is at 3.4%. Yet, I have received calls from new grads, as well as jobseekers returning from employment breaks that are having difficulty finding work.
It’s understandable for you to feel confused if you are finding it challenging to find the job of your dreams when the market is said to be near “full employment,” so I did some quick research.
First, the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is reported to be higher than the overall unemployment rate—around 4%. Also, tech companies are announcing large layoffs. So, there is probably nothing wrong with your job search process. The market is uncertain.
Nonetheless, when you finish school or need to re-enter the workforce, you cannot wait for improvements in economic conditions. Instead, you need to move forward. Here are a few suggestions:
- Select a job target,
- Assess your accomplishments,
- Know your work history and employment gaps, if any,
- Prepare your resume, and
- Be confident!
Select a job target.
Your first, and perhaps most important step, is to select a job target. Marketers, I’ve learned, like to think in terms of identifying a company’s ideal customer, or avatar. Jobseekers, I have observed, get the best results when they know the kind of job they want, the jobs they are qualified to do, and the kind of company where they want to work.
onsider jobs that are not related to your college major. A number of my clients are working in fields that have little to do what they studied. For example, one client majored in English and then worked as a medical practice administrator. Another client is an aerospace electronics engineer although he has a law degree. Yet another client—the chief operating officer of a healthcare startup—was a history major in college.
My favorite way to figure out what to do next is to speak with people who are doing jobs that you think are interesting. Can you envision yourself doing their job? Can you picture yourself doing the job five years from now? And you just might encounter a job opportunity while you are talking with people!
Assess your accomplishments.
Sometimes recent college graduates and jobseekers returning to the workforce don’t recognize their own accomplishments. A recent client, for example, told me he was “just the janitor” at his last job. When we spoke in more detail, he realized that, during six years at the job (while in high school and college), he led a team and then met or surpassed every goal leadership set for him and his team. This information helped us build a resume and interview strategy.
Know your work history.
Most of us know our work history for the last ten to 15 years. We do not always realize, though, that it is important for us to fill gaps, if any, between full-time jobs.
Researchers have known for years that job candidates who have been out of work for six months or more are less likely to land interviews. LinkedIn has made this issue even more important because recruiters often search only for LinkedIn members that list the role they seek as their “current job.”
There are several strategies career coaches recommend for mitigating this challenge. An approach I’ve recommended for years is to fill your employment gap with career-related temp work, consulting work, or volunteer work. For example, one client, a business analyst, had a short-term project during the pandemic, so we added this to her profile under a consulting heading.
A fashion designer, created a portfolio of original designs after she was downsized. We gave the portfolio a band name, and then she created a LinkedIn business page for the brand. We added the brand to her resume and profile as her current role.
Think through your work history so you are prepared to resolve potential issues, such as employment gaps, when you prepare to enter the job market.
Prepare a resume.
You still need a resume. The resume’s demise has been predicted for the past 20 years or more, but it is still widely accepted.
In fact, you will probably need many resumes. The best practice for submitting job applications today is to include a resume that is specifically tailored in response to the specific job lead.
Most of the time, you will be making small changes to emphasize activities and achievements related to the specific opening. Recently, I saw one situation where I recommended two entirely different resumes because the jobseeker is both a funeral director and theater director.
A great resume also provides talking points for your job interviews. It summarizes your personal brand, your experience, accomplishments, education, certifications, and licenses so you and the interview team have much of the information you both need for the meeting right in front of you. This means the resume will be useful even in rare cases where it is not required.
Self-confidence can be the most important tool in your job search toolkit. Outstanding preparation—knowing your accomplishments, and work history, while being ready to explain employment gaps in positive ways—will improve your chances for success.