Job seekers, this is your time. You’re in the best position to get hired since the Great Recession as employers scramble to land talent in Minnesota’s tight labor market. The same holds true for those seeking to move up with their current employer, as companies try to retain rather than replace valued employees.
Both groups enjoy a further advantage, according to career counselors and coaches: time.
Minnesota’s unemployment rate held steady in December at a low 3.3%. Rising wages and high labor-force participation also suggest the job market remains tight.
While the low unemployment rate means you’re likely to get hired faster, it also affords you the time to make sure you’re pursuing the right path based on your skills, values and interests.
Meanwhile, abundant part-time opportunities and gig work can help you pay the bills during your search, counselors said.
Just don’t take too much time, advises Christine Bartley of Career Leap Coaching.
“People have more confidence in turning offers down [right now], even when they don’t have that next job offer in hand, because there are a lot more opportunities out there,” Bartley said. “There still is healthy competition out there, too. It’s [about] finding the right balance of how much risk you can tolerate.”
1. The job should suit you.
Career consultant Clara Nydam of Clara Nydam Careers recommends finding a job that suits who you are rather than trying to change to fit a job.
To help identify a job that matches your strengths, Nydam advises writing down what you’ve accomplished at the end of each quarter and what you plan to accomplish in the quarter ahead. Take note of activities that are rewarding, those you never want to do and those that make you say, “I can’t believe they’re paying me to do this.”
2. Update your LinkedIn profile. To go from a passive job search to an active one, Nydam said, include a branding statement, key skills and things you enjoy doing, which may increase your visibility to recruiters.
3. When networking, describe your capabilities and the type of organization that interests you, Nydam said. Ask contacts about company culture, leadership style and what decisionmakers look for in filling jobs.
This is a favorable time for people seeking promotions with their current employer in part because so many older workers are retiring, Nydam said. She suggests networking internally with key individuals to learn of additional tasks to take on, committees to join or other steps to take to demonstrate that you’re ready to move up. Look for informal mentors and speak to your boss about your interest in a promotion to get suggestions, as well.
4. Interviewers learn more about job candidates from the questions they ask than the answers they give to expected questions, Nydam said. Ask about onboarding practices, what a new hire is expected to accomplish at the outset, how the company can help that person perform effectively, and how to offer feedback.
5. Don’t begin your search by scrolling through online job postings, said career coach Nancy Fraasch of Nancy Fraasch Consulting. Only about 10 to 20% of jobs are filled through online sites.
“It’s easy to click and send your résumé here and there,” Fraasch said. “You feel like you’re accomplishing something, but does it do anything? If 80 to 90% of jobs are filled by who you know, 80 to 90% of your job search time should be spent cultivating your network.”
Fraasch starts clients with interest, values or personality inventories to create a professional brand or career focus. Then she works with them to develop a résumé and update their LinkedIn profile — all in preparation for networking. Pick contacts’ brains about companies that might interest you and others to talk to, with a goal of getting three new names. Let them know about your skills, what you enjoy doing and what you’re looking for.
“Often when I look at a résumé, I say it looks like you don’t know what you want to do because it’s everything you’ve done,” Fraasch said. “[The résumé] needs to lead to where you want to go, and your LinkedIn, too. It’s not a police report. It includes pieces that lead you to where you want to go and what you want to do.”
6. While the tight labor market offers some advantages — including time — be prepared to move quickly when the right opening appears, said Janice Kalin, a psychologist who offers career counseling through her company, Plan Your Career Now. Have a master résumé ready to cut and paste in material relevant to a job you’re applying for. Also find someone you know who works at the company who can mention your application to hiring managers.
Bear in mind, Kalin said, the response of a hiring manager from a large company to a question about what happens when someone submits a résumé for an online job posting.
“He said, ‘The first 50 people that satisfy what we’re looking for, that’s who we’ll look at. Why look at 600 more if we have 50 great candidates right away?’ So be on top of the job market when you’re looking and put in your résumé as soon as possible. Be ready.”
Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Lake Elmo. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.