What does the job market have in store for us this year? The answer seems to be mixed. We are continuing to hear about company layoffs. Yet, at the same time, the stock market just hit a new all-time high. This doesn’t paint a clear picture for would be job seekers. And often, uncertainty in the market can discourage employees from seeking new employment.
For example, major companies are continuing to lay off workers. In January alone, companies such as Microsoft, Sports Illustrated, Google, Amazon, and NBC all laid off workers. On the other hand, the S&P 500 has been setting records as earnings have continued to grow. And, a few of the very same companies that are doing well are also laying off employees. So, what gives?
Unfortunately, the answer is not straight forward. There are a number of factors at play. First, in the last five years, many industries have seen a shift. Since 2020, it is more common to work from home. People are wearing more casual clothing. The auto industry is in the midst of an evolution. I could go on, but you get the idea. The way we work and play has shifted. Some industries have gotten smaller while others have grown.
Another very unfortunate factor is that layoffs have become more normal in business. In the past, layoffs were typically a last resort. Companies avoided them at all cost. Companies wanted to protect their employees. Employees were the fabric of the company. Layoffs were considered shameful.
Although employees are still important, companies now consider many other factors. Some companies focus more on the short term value of the company rather than looking into the future. This can mean that a company may elect to lay off employees simply to save money in the short term. In fact, it is at times perceived as a responsible thing to do. In other words, the short term cost savings of layoffs may at times be considered smart.
What does this mean for the job market, and for your job search? If you have been thinking looking for a new job, don’t give up hope. Despite the unusual market, many companies are still hiring.
But, before you accept a new job, do your research. Look online for any news about the financial health of the company. Research where the industry is going overall. Research the company on sites such as Glassdoor.com. Glassdoor allows employees to leave reviews about the company. If layoffs are being handled poorly or employees are being mistreated, they will often share their feedback on Glassdoor.
Whatever you do, keep your resume current. With the current environment, unplanned things can happen. By keeping your resume up to date, and by staying in touch with contacts, you can create some level of insulation from the unknown. The more proactive that you are, the more choice you will have if things change in this market.
Employees are switching jobs, and they switch often. They stay at jobs for a shorter time than their parents or grandparents. In most professions, the concept of sticking with one employer no longer makes sense. In fact, people who stay put are often indirectly penalized by doing so. Employees who stay forfeit promotions and money when they stay for too long.
It’s the time of year when raises may begin to occur. When a company looks at an internal employee, they often focus on the person’s salary history. They’ll say, “We gave James a 9 percent raise last year. He should be happy for a few more years.” But, if James were to go out on the open market, he might find an increase of twenty percent is closer to the market rate. In fact, the company would likely pay more to a new candidate if James were to leave, and the company were to backfill his role.
If you find yourself in this modern day dilemma, one thing is for sure. Your online brand is important. Keeping your online footprint professional is not just for politicians. It’s for every level of worker. In fact, there are hiring managers who will spend more time researching someone online than they will spend interviewing them.
Make sure there is not negative content about you on the internet. A good place to start is Google. Look up your name with quotes around your first and last name. Look through the first two or three pages of search results. And, don’t forget to check Google images.
If you find something negative that you have control over, remove it. Look for photos where you are dressed in a way you would not want an employer to view you. Look for times when you may have shared something on a controversial topic that may be misinterpreted.
Be on alert for negative content for other people who share your same name. For example, if someone with your name was recently arrested and a local TV station is sharing their mug shot photos online, this is a reason to be concerned. If you do see this, you can at times reach out to the TV station and ask them to remove the photos. Alternatively, you can work to create more positive content online that will push down the negative results.
If you work in a creative field, you may consider setting up an online portfolio of your work. You can also use sites like LinkedIn to feature your work.
Get involved in your career community online. Join your university’s alumni group on LinkedIn. Comment on relevant posts your LinkedIn connections make. Consider sharing your own success stories.
Whether or not it should be the case, personal brand matters. And, how your personal brand is perceived online matters. Your resume is no longer the only thing companies are considering. So, take the proactive steps to build your online brand.
Happy New Year! January is a time for new beginnings. It’s a time when we often set our goals for the remainder of the year. It can be a time to commit to change, whether it is within our personal lives or our careers. It can often help to begin with the end in mind. If you can create an image of the end goal, it can be easier to build the steps to complete the change you crave.
But, so often, it can be hard to see the end goal in the beginning. This is especially true when you are in the middle of a difficult situation. And let’s face it, the last few years have not been easy.
One thing remains true however. If you make small steps in the right direction, you will eventually find your way. In other words, good choices will lead you to more good options. And eventually, your destination will reveal itself. If you’ve taken many positive steps, you are certain to find yourself in a positive place – even if there are a few turns along the way.
If you do have a clear vision for the future, set an intension. Break it down into bite sized steps that you can do over the course of the year. Create a timeline. Find friends to help hold you accountable along the way. Reach out for help as you need it.
But, not having that vision of the end doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself in a great spot. I’ve often spoken to job seekers who are distressed. They have two good job offers and aren’t sure which to choose. In reality, both opportunities are good options. This is often the case in life. There are many paths that will take you to a good outcome.
However, what you do need to do is to get moving. Staying stagnant in a situation that isn’t working for you will not lead you to where you need to be. It will only make it harder to get yourself out later.
No matter what your goals are for 2024, January is a great time to polish up your professional presence. Ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date. And, set aside some time to update your resume. This is likely the time of the year when you will complete your performance evaluation for the previous year. Use the opportunity to truly outline the impact of your contribution to your company. In addition to making a great case for your bonus or raise, you can use this information for your resume.
Finding a job is hard work, especially when you are proactively looking. Start early, and keep moving. The more effort you put into your search, the more options you will ultimately have. And, you will have more opportunities to guide your career in a positive direction. Start by taking one positive step at a time.
The holidays are here again. Along with the turkey, the stuffing, and the loved ones, there’s more to consider. This season is a time of giving thanks. In every job I have ever had, I have felt most thankful for those I work with each day. It’s not the work that makes things special. It’s not the perks that come with the job. It’s the people. And, it is those we work together with who allow our success to grow collectively.
So often at work, we forget to thank one another. Because a task is expected of someone, we assume it should be done with no complaints, and with no thanks. Each task is simply a box to be checked.
In reality, colleagues can choose whether or not to help us. And, they can choose how much to help us. Whether or not it’s said, each person is putting some piece of themselves into their work each day. They are doing their best in spite of challenges. They’re working hard even when things are tough at home, or when they don’t feel their best.
So often, the only thing they need in return are a few words of thanks. Thanking someone is easy. It’s free. And, it’s an investment in your work relationship.
How can you give thanks at work? There are many ways, and no one option is the correct one. You will likely want to use a combination of methods. First, thank someone in person. When you see them in the hall or when you meet one on one, give them a verbal thank you. Be specific. If they’ve done something to help you, mention it. Tell them you appreciate their help.
Another great option is to thank or praise someone in front of a group. This often makes the most sense during a work meeting on a project that the person has helped you with. As you present an update, you may make a brief mention of the person or team who helped to make the work possible. This allows people to feel like they’re receiving credit for their work. It helps them to understand that you truly value their work.
You can also thank someone via email, either individually or as part of a group message. This can be another nice way to recognize their work. And, if you want to do something extra special, you might consider a hand written note. Or, you may want to get your colleague a small gift. Or, you may want to consider taking them to lunch.
Giving thanks can come in many forms. But, we can all agree that it’s important to acknowledge others. Work is hard enough. Why not take a little time to acknowledge one another? It is good for everyone, and it can even be good for the company’s bottom line. Employees who feel appreciated are more dedicated and are harder workers than others.
Hiring can be tough. At times, it is similar to online dating. The hiring manager is often flooded with applicants. There are more potential employees (and in the case of dating, more singles) than anyone could ever truly sort through. So, what’s a hiring manager to do?
Unfortunately, most hiring managers use an elimination method. They try to look at what may be “wrong” with the candidates. Very often, there may not truly be anything wrong with the candidates. Often, they may be different than other candidates in some way. For example, a job may not require a master’s degree. But, if you are the only candidate who doesn’t have one, you may be eliminated from the consideration set.
Similarly, a company may be looking for someone with similar experience to their existing employees, or to the previous employee in the role. If you don’t have experience from the same industry, you may be eliminated from consideration.
Companies also look for employees who have similar work situations today. For example, a company may be hesitant to hire someone who is currently self-employed. Or a small company may be hesitant to hire someone from a large company, and vice versa. Similar rules apply when it comes to things like visa sponsorships, or any other notable difference. Any sort of difference can create a hurdle to get over.
Unfortunately, the same is true for perceived differences. Recruiters and hiring managers often read through twenty or more resumes in one sitting. They make quick judgements in order to efficiently work through the line of candidates. This can at times results in incorrect assumptions about your background. These incorrect assumptions can remove you from consideration.
There a few takeaways from this. First, if a recruiter shares why you weren’t selected, maintain a sense of perspective. First, they are likely sharing a quick judgement. Second, they are comparing you to a specific group of candidates. If you were the one candidate without a specific qualification this time, you may find this qualification is not even considered at the next job you apply to. Candidate pools are ever changing, and recruiter feedback is worth what you pay for it.
As a job seeker, you can help to combat these incorrect judgements by providing a cover letter with your application – and by customizing your resume. Use your cover letter to tell your story. Explain why you believe you stand out from the other candidates. Then, mirror the language and qualifications from the job description in your resume. This won’t solve every problem, but it can help in your search.
The job search process can be long and painful. Try to keep pushing forward. Just like dating, it only takes one great hiring manager for things to fall into place. Realize that you are not alone. Every candidate except for one received a reason that they are not a good fit, or are not qualified.