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Navigating Today’s Job Market

Today’s job market has changed significantly since the stock market crash of 2008. Employers are taking longer to close candidates, and candidates are walking into interviews with other offers in hand, or an interview with the next company already scheduled.

The method of “posting and praying” is no longer working for candidates or employers. Candidates have a better chance of getting their resume noticed if they go through their personal or professional networks. Having your resume noticed through an applicant tracking system (“posting and praying”), will take a conscious effort of ensuring your resume and cover letter include all of the relevant keywords from the job description. By the way…this measured step will help your resume appear in Boolean searches conducted by recruiters and their application systems.

If recruiters or hiring managers do not receive resumes by referrals, then they tend to seek passive candidates through social media sites (i.e., LinkedIn) and resume databases. This allows them to have more targeted results, and ensure that the candidates have the relevant experience, before contacting them for phone interviews and referring them to hiring managers. Additionally, some applicant tracking systems have built-in ranking features available, which conduct Boolean searches of submitted resumes and rank them based on relevance to the job description. Recruiters will then review the resumes that appear higher in the ranking list for that job posting first.

Once you have your resume updated accordingly, focus on the interview. Most recruiters conduct phone interviews as the initial screening process. Let your personality come through during the phone screen. It is always a good idea to conduct the phone interview standing up. This practice allows your diaphragm to open up and give increased confidence in your tone. Have the job description, your resume, your notes and some prepared questions readily available during the interview process. It is extremely important to conduct thorough research on the company. You will be quizzed, so be prepared! This is an important step that far too many candidates skip.

Show up to the in-person interview 15 – 20 minutes early. That is a comfortable window that will allow you to get settled and relaxed, and ensure the recruiter or hiring manager is ready to meet with you. Recruiters and hiring managers are taken aback when candidates show up 30 minutes or more early. It makes everyone feel awkward to have a candidate waiting around that long. Also, be certain to greet the receptionist or assistant professionally and cordially. Oftentimes, their feedback about their interaction with a candidate has an impact on the final decision by the hiring manager. Be courtesy to everyone you encounter at the company.

While waiting for your interview, you can also gauge the culture of the company. This is a great opportunity to pay attention to how the employees are engaging with each other. Do they look happy? What’s the dress code? What’s the office environment like (i.e., open floor plan, cubicles, offices, daylight vs. fluorescent lighting, etc.)? Can you really see yourself working there? It is just as important to know what you DO want from a new company, as it is to know what you DON’T want. Use this time to conduct an additional assessment over and above the interviews.

Persistence, pace and patience will be key to negotiating the job market today. Be persistent in your pursuit of the right opportunities for you. Do not apply for a job, or use your network, unless it is a job you can see yourself maintaining for at least two (2) or more years. Retail, restaurant and hospitality jobs do not usually have the same expectation regarding length of employment, but professional and corporate jobs do. There is a cost for turnover and a cost for hiring, which is usually monitored by the Human Resources department and oftentimes shared with company leaders. The objective is to keep both costs down year over year.

Pace your job search, and take time off if things are not moving fast enough. Job searching can feel like a full-time job these days, but it is just as important to give yourself a mental break from the process. It is important not to lose momentum or focus during these mental breaks. Exercise or meet up with friends and family to help reenergize you and prepare you for the remainder of your search.

Follow up with the interviewer(s) on a regularly basis. Start off with the appropriate thank you correspondence. Best practice is to send your thank you correspondence within 24-hours. Be certain to get business cards or contact information for each of the interviewers. Finally, patience will be key. Be patient in your pursuit. Be patient with your follow up campaign. Be patient when you receive that offer and always negotiate the best deal for you. Good luck!

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