How you can use the historically low participation in the job market to improve your overall career trajectory.
With the response to Covid-19 in 2020 putting tens of millions of Americans out of work, the U.S. labor market is, perhaps, at the tightest it has ever been. There are currently over a million more job openings than there are unemployed workers looking for jobs. This means that employers are often desperate to find qualified workers to fill those open positions. If leveraged correctly, this could be a great opportunity to improve your quality of life by stepping into a better career.
Disrupted labor markets
Before Covid-19, most expert economists were in agreement that the country was already experiencing what’s known as “full employment“. The definition of full employment is commonly recognized as about 4-5 percent. However, in the months prior to Covid-19, the U.S. had an unemployment rate of 3.8 percent, meaning that employers were already actively searching for new workers.
Unfortunately, the response to Covid-19 by state governments led to tens of millions of people losing their jobs as employers were forced to close their doors during statewide lockdowns. Now that employers are back open for business, they’re trying to hire back the workers they lost during the lockdowns. However, the effects of these lockdowns are still being felt by the U.S. today as labor participation is at an all-time low. This means that many people are choosing not to participate in the labor market all, further tightening an already tight labor market to unprecedented levels.
The impact on multiple industries
Because of this significant disturbance in the U.S. economy, nearly every industry is struggling to find candidates for their open positions. This is being further bottlenecked by open positions in HR, resulting in slower response times and delayed hiring by the companies that are often most in need of workers. The industries impacted by the lockdowns goes beyond restaurant, travel, and hospitality to also include accounting, legal services, design, engineering, and many others.
Regardless of the impact on the overall economy, it’s clear that the tight labor market presents a perfect opportunity for those who are currently employed to strengthen their careers. With interest rates quickly rising and limiting the amount of cash employers have to spend on labor, higher unemployment may soon be coming. So, it’s important to work on getting yourself situated by taking advantage of the current labor market while it’s still here.
How to leverage the labor shortage to boost your career
Even if you’re perfectly happy in your current position, it is always a good idea to monitor potential employment options and advancements to ensure you’re consistently progressing. The Resume Writing Experts say that one of the problems they see that holds clients back is a lack of knowledge about what jobs are available in their field. To keep your career from becoming stagnant, you need to regularly keep yourself updated with news about other job opportunities. Even if you decide to stay at your current position, an awareness of the industry can help you make informed decisions about whether or not to ask for a raise.
Here are some strategies you can use while surveying the job landscape:
1. Review your career goals
All objectives require focus and context. If you don’t know where you’re headed – or what your goals are – you’re going to struggle aimlessly while looking for opportunities. So, take a moment to review your career goals and don’t be afraid to break them down into steps. For example, where do you want to be next year, how about in five years, what about in ten years? By breaking your goals down into steps, you can see how they piece together.
Once you have your list of short and long-term goals, you can further break them down by determining the requirements to make those goals happen. For example, maybe one of your goals was to be a senior director at your firm in ten years, but that requires you to get an MBA first. Now you know that another one of your goals will need to be completing your MBA. After you have developed a clear path with steppingstones along the way, you’ll find it much easier to determine if you’re currently heading in the right direction or if you’re stuck in the same place.
2. Consider your prospects
Once you’ve made a determination about which direction to take your career, you can being to assess your prospects for career advancements in the current job market. This involves thinking about what skills you already possess and how they’ll benefit you. We have a helpful article on hard & soft skills that you may want to check out while thinking more about this area of your expertise.
Once you know where you stand, you can now begin actively searching for opportunities. This might include reaching out to your contacts in your own workplace to ask about promotion opportunities – or it might involve building a strong network on LinkedIn to see what else is out there.
With so many companies desperate to find workers, you may find that your own employer may be open to helping you grow internally simply to ensure they don’t lose a great resource. Oftentimes, leveraging your current employer for advancement opportunities can be even better and easier than searching for a new position externally. This is because your current employer already has an idea about what skills and achievements you’re bringing to the table. However, it never hurts to give them a little reminder by presenting an effective resume.
3. Update your resume, social media, and other branding tools
It’s important not to miss out on potential opportunities because you lack a resume. Furthermore, you’ll want to leverage the internet to your advantage by building an effective LinkedIn profile and other social media accounts. Successful people know that success is often simply about being in the right place at the right time. Keeping your resume, LinkedIn profile, and social media updated will ensure you can take full advantage of that next opportunity.
Begin to apply for positions that fit your needs
After you’ve set your goals and discovered the right opportunity, applying for the position should be easy. Simply approach it with the same professionalism and rigor that you did while thinking about your goals and building your resume. From there, you’ll want to refresh your interviewing skills to ensure you can capitalize on any responses you get from the employer.
With the Great Resignation still going strong, there has never been a better time to re-evaluate your career and, potentially, take it to the next level.