According to this month’s National Employment Counseling Association (NECA) Newsletter, job seekers “have cause for optimism.” The Department of Labor is reporting that 162,000 jobs were added to our national economy in March, the largest job surge in the last 3 years. A significant part of that job growth (40,000 new jobs) went to temporary workers, but new jobs were added to sluggish economic sectors like manufacturing and construction (17,000 and 15,000 respectively). Without question, the economy still has a long way to go – 15 million Americans are still counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate is holding firm at 9.7 percent, and the broader under-employment rate is 16.8 percent. “Yet overall, signs of economic recovery are taking root.”
My clients are a testament to the fact that companies are hiring. Many companies are still apprehensive about hiring full-time employees, particularly in manufacturing, but jobs are increasing while companies use a variety of hiring approaches to handle their workload and bring employees on board. Some of the more common approaches are:
- Hiring contract employees with a 4-6 month guarantee and the potential of full time employment after the contract.
- Using temporary agencies to screen, hire, compensate, and in some cases train employees.
- Offering part-time jobs in which companies save on benefits and vacation time, but employees benefit by working in a job they enjoy, getting the opportunity to show their best work, being first in line for fulltime opportunities, and eliminating large resume gaps.
- Taking on unpaid or minimally paid interns for 2-4 months (particularly those transitioning into new fields) as a trial for future employment, to let interns demonstrate transferrable skills, and to provide experience.
Employers are getting creative. Potential employees need to participate in the creativity and be responsive to company dynamics to get a foot in the door. This too is cause for optimism. “Optimism increases creativity. Optimism fuels confidence, and confidence is key to interview success.”
NECA offers some wonderful reminders for career development professionals working with job seekers. I offer the following adaptation of those reminders to you.
- Rejection is not personal. In a keenly competitive job market, even the best of us will face rejection. Don’t absorb rejection or view it as negative feedback; instead, remain confident whatever the outcome.
- Continue polishing your resume. Tailor your resume to the job description, incorporating key words and applicable accomplishments and experiences. Resumes should be honest and well tailored to the job you seek.
- Take creative risks in your job search. When daily scans of major job search engines yield low returns, leave your computer and make personal calls to employers of interest. Offer to intern, apprentice or freelance to demonstrate your capabilities. Extend your search into job sectors you’ve not previously considered. Volunteer in local non-profits exercising both your mind and spirit. Each experience can bring a new perspective to your search.
- Fortify your energy reserves. A good diet, exercise, and a good night’s sleep are well-documented ways to maintain energy and a positive outlook. Looking and feeling energetic in a job interview is often viewed as more important than having experience when managers are looking for new employees.
There IS cause for optimism. Not only are jobs slowly becoming more available, employers are also using creative means to bring in workers. By welcoming the creative efforts of employers and heading the words of the NECA your optimism and job prospects will increase.