The US job market’s extreme fluctuations has employers and job seekers trying to figure out what to do next. To get a handle on what you need to know about the job market, let’s look at where the growth and opportunities are.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a quits rate at an all time high of 2.9% in August 2021; the number of quits rose by 242,000 to 4.3 million.
According to a report from Reuters, 157,000 people quit in the accommodation and food services industry; 26,000 left in the wholesale trade business and the state and local government education saw 25,000 departures.
Baby boomers, people roughly age 57 to 66, are also quitting either to retire early, take a break or start their own business. Almost 3.2 million more baby boomers retired in the third quarter of 2020 than did in the same quarter of the previous year, according to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management.
But where are all these people going?
Some have decided to stay home with their school-age children. Some no longer want to hold two or more part-time jobs. Some have decided they can survive on the salary of their spouse or partner for the time being. These are not lazy workers or people who don’t want to work. They are people who have made a conscious decision for a better quality of life.
Which industries are projected to do well in the coming months? Career Onestop summarized the Department of Labor data and found that most gains were in four areas:
- Leisure and hospitality: Job growth in performing arts, motion picture and sound recording, sporting venues and travel and tourism reflects the demand for culture and travel, at least in the US
- Professional and business services: Business services encompass engineering and architectural services, temporary staffing and a variety of other jobs that can mostly be done virtually or remotely.
- Manufacturing: Jobs that produce equipment – such as concrete, machinery, computers, clothing, toys and more – saw labor gains.
- Transportation and warehousing: This may just be the next hot area of job growth as these industries address the backlog in the supply chain.
The Step-by-Step Guide to Career Success
One thing is for sure: The sudden shutdown of the job market forced us all to adapt to new technologies and new ways of doing business. Many of these changes are going to stick around for the foreseeable future.
Some employers have increased pay to attract workers in hard-to-fill positions, such as retail. The more difficult employers have in hiring enough workers, the better your chances for getting a higher pay. Bloomberg reports that the “average hourly pay for workers rose 4.9 percent from a year earlier, to $30.96 from $29.52.”
The Great Resignation’s Dark Side
People are quitting their jobs, but this doesn’t mean you should. Don’t assume that since there are so many jobs open that it will be easy to find a job. Quitting a job without developing a plan for how you generate income and obtain health insurance can be risky.
“That’s why the ‘Great Resignation’ shouldn’t be glorified and coupled with the notion that it’s always easier to find a better job in a candidate-focused market,” writes Lisa Rangel, an executive resume writer with Chameleon Resumes. “There are so many factors at play here that can affect someone finding a job… Everyone needs their own plan.”
Securing a new job is almost always easier when you are still employed and drawing a paycheck. The stress, anxiety and insecurity of not having a job zaps most people’s self-confidence. And this often can result in a longer job search.
So before you up and quit, update your resume, begin looking and have a plan for how you will pay your bills for at least the next six months.
Job Seeking Tips
As you search for a job this coming year, keep the following tips in mind.
Become a recruiter magnet on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn makes it easy for recruiters to search for potential candidates – if your profile is in top shape.
Executive resume writer and LinkedIn profile writer, Donna Svei recommends job seekers “use a premium account, follow target companies, connect with 500+ people in your industry, function, and location, and post and engage with content to show that you’re on LinkedIn daily and will see any messages recruiters might send you.”
“If you’re looking for a job, a robust LinkedIn profile will help recruiters find and contact you.” Svei says to “use keywords in your headline, summary, and current job title(s).”
When you take both these steps, you’ll have a “robust profile which makes it easier for recruiters to find you and signals to them that it’s a good investment of their time to reach out to you.”
Hone your remote work skills.
Remote work is here to stay, and managers have become keenly aware of how important the following soft skills are to the success of their team: adaptability, self-motivation, written communication and collaboration. It has never been more important to develop these skills and be ready to provide proof of your mastery. Remote work isn’t going to disappear, which means these skills will always be in demand.
Invest in accquiring new skills.
Things change quickly and you need to be ready to pivot. US workers and families with children learned this during the pandemic. While it caught many off-guard and forced the world to learn new technology, it is also a wake-up call for every worker to seek out new technology and skills that will add to your marketability in the future. You are never too old or too young to learn new skills. Regularly invest time in your professional development either with or without the support of your boss or organization.
Build new relationships.
Workers have also learned how vulnerable their positions are and therefore, should work on building new relationships outside their current place of work. One trend that started before the pandemic and is still in place is the growth of employee referral programs. These programs pay employees to refer people they know, like friends or past co-workers.
In order for job seekers to get referred, you need to build relationships with those in your network. Once you’ve built that connection, take the relationship to the next level by asking for a phone or video call. Virginia France, resume writer and co-founder of Job Search Journey, recommends this wording: “I’m sure your schedule is jam-packed and respect your time is valuable – if you are available for a brief chat I’d be very appreciative If not, no worries at all.”
Franco says she’s seen that giving someone an out has generated a response time and time again.
Know what you want and don’t want.
Before you start searching the job boards or updating your resume, take some time to get clear about what you want to do, what type of work environment and management works best for you and know what you no longer want to do. This knowledge about yourself will help you weed out the jobs that wouldn’t be a good match. Gaining this clarity may take time, but it’s time well spent.
Apply if you meet 75% of the qualifications.
You do not need to have all the qualifications requested to apply. You don’t know which job requirements are critical and which are “nice to have.” And since most employers are scrambling to fill positions, you just might be the closest candidate they’ve seen. But they’ll only notice this if you apply.
Use several job boards.
Niche or specialty websites are used to recruit specific occupations or diverse candidates. Don’t rely on a single job board to host every job posting. Since companies are trying to invest in a more diverse workforce, you may be able to leverage your diversity by using job boards that cater to your demographic.
Diversify your social media.
As we saw during the great Facebook outage, putting all your effort into a single social media platform can be a danger, even if temporarily. And just as employers use niche job boards to attract a more diverse workforce, they also use different social media platforms, besides LinkedIn, to reach new candidates. Consider branching into a new platform to enhance your personal brand and highlight your professional assets.