The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 321,000 new jobs were added in November, and it revised hiring figures for recent months to reflect increased job growth. According to Daily Kos, there are still many Americans who are out of work or only able to find part-time jobs. That’s the downside. The upside is that job growth is starting to lead to higher wages. If this trend continues, that will be the real game changer. While hiring has increased the last two years, salary has not been increasing. If you’ve been stuck at a job that has been giving you small raises or no raises, it’s time to start looking for a new job.
Every year I like to remind readers that the annual dip is coming in the hiring season. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, hiring tends to slow. Companies still hire, especially those who need to put an employee in place quickly. However, some companies will put hiring decisions off until the new year. Others will hire more slowly because of vacations and time off related to the season.
Am I saying you should stop looking for a job during this period? Absolutely not. Keep looking, but do so with the proper expectations. You will probably see fewer job postings that interest you. That’s the bad news. The good news is that your competition will often stop looking for work because they think no one gets hired during the holidays.
Companies that need to hire will do so. Keep looking. You might be in for a holiday surprise: a new job.
The business website 24/7 Wallstreet reports that retailers expect to make major increases in hiring for the Holiday season. That’s good news for people who will get jobs, but it can lead to happy media reports that mask deeper problems in the economy. Why? First, these jobs are not permanent and generally low paying. Second, the unemployment rate and related news will sound better than it really is. For my money, watch the manufacturing sector to understand how the job market is doing. More importantly, watch changes in wages and benefits. Until America gets a raise (at least 99% of America), we will not have significant changes in the economy or in real opportunities for working people.
I recently read an op-ed claiming that millennials are terrible workers: They don’t know how to communicate. They only want to work forty hours a week. They feel entitled.
Remember stories about slackers? Before that it was hippies. Beatniks. In each case, young people were smeared as lazy and unmanageable. The problem with this prejudice, like all other forms of prejudice, is that it demeans an entire group, and it is a simplification. I share some concern about the impact of texting on how we communicate. However, I know many people in their forties and fifties who hide behind texting when they should be making a call or holding a face-to-face meeting.
What’s wrong with millennials? The same thing that was wrong with slackers, hippies, and beatniks: They don’t control the mainstream media, and they aren’t making hiring decisions.
What I have seen in millennials is a type of realism about what work should be. One of my millennial clients took a big pay cut to have a better quality of life. I challenged her to think about how long it will take to make up the lost income and related raises. Without skipping a beat, she asked me what good the money will be if she is always miserable. She thought through what she was giving up and what she was gaining. I would call that good career management.
Are some millennials lazy? Of course. There were lazy Baby Boomers and probably even some lazy folks in the Greatest Generation. My impression is that millennials want to work in jobs that interest them and treat them fairly. They have learned from watching their parents and older brothers and sisters work hard with little reward. They understand the game.
I’ve come across several resume experts who say that it is impossible to convey personality on a resume. Nothing could be further from the truth. Soft skills and qualities give an employer a good indication of the kind of person you are and the kind of worker you will be.
For example, a word like flexible indicates that someone can fill different roles. It is important to follow up on this point in the resume and show how you are versatile and able to take on different roles. Similarly, a popular word in job postings that I often use in resume is proactive. Someone who is proactive either prevents a problem from happening or solves it without being told to do so. These are just two examples of how a personality can be conveyed as part of a well-written resume. Here are a few other terms that you can use to give an employer a sense of what you offer:
Many job posts include these terms. Find a way to integrate them into your resume so the employer can tell who you are as well as what you do.
I ran into a neighbor today and made a joke about the weather. He didn't laugh, telling me that Chicago will be hit by about 6 more inches of snow before we face two days of below zero temperatures. This winter sucks, and there's another month left to go.
What does this have to do with job search and career management? A lot. Whenever we dial back on looking for work or put career management on the back burner, we lose opportunities. Employers need to hire, and they will make an offer to the best available candidate. If you're so traumatized by the snow and cold that your not networking and responding to job posts, another person is getting a job that could be yours.
Here's a good reason to look even harder during this kind of weather: Less competition. If bad weather is keeping people from applying for the jobs you want, that means your chance of landing that job is better. Take advantage of a bad situation, and make it work for you. Don't get stuck singing the Cold Weather Blues.
Too often resumes simply convey basic qualifications for a job. This information is important, but it is equally vital to show the value you will bring to a new employer. Describe the achievements that will set you off from other candidates. Think of achievements this way: How have you been a hero at your previous jobs? If possible, quantify your success stories, but you should tell them even if you can’t represent every success with a number. Here are a few examples of how you can present achievements on a resume:
• Won several accounts from a major competitor (Symantec).
• Achieved year-over-year growth of 25% for license renewal.
• Increased market share from $100,000 to $900,000 in one year.
• Reduced cell phone costs for 500 units by conducting detailed research of market and price trends used in negotiation.
• Cleared a back log of 50 overdue performance reviews.
• Ranked #1 of 75 Account Executives.
• Completed an average of 500 projects per year.
• Established protocols and procedures for a new PET CT Department.
• Recognized by supervisors for providing outstanding customer service.
• Consistently exceeded goals for productivity.
• Achieved 110% of goal in the first year; planned and delivered 500 events.
• Launched social media and email marketing to reach younger consumers.
• Played a key role on a team that improved workflow in the Emergency Department by 20%.
• Entrusted with customers’ confidential data during computer repairs and data migrations.
• Achieved +$1 million in saving by negotiating price reductions outside of the market.
How have you helped your employer or former employers? Find a way to make these hero stories part of your resume.
A few weeks ago at a social event, I met a woman whose granddaughter is married to a recent law school graduate. She told me: “He can’t get a job. There are no jobs for lawyers.” As I’ve noted in the previous blog posts, such hyperbolic language only breeds more fear and does nothing to help anyone find a job or navigate a career.
According to a blurb published in the Chicago Sun-Times’ Grid feature, law schools in Illinois graduated 2.5 lawyers for every new job. Is this statistic true? It could be as a short term trend. However, if any profession were to create 2.5 applicants for every new job, there would be obvious consequences of the trend. People who go to law school are intelligent. If they knew three years of law school would result in no job with a big student loan debt, few people would go to law school. To my knowledge, no law schools in Illinois have closed lately. They may be admitting fewer students and the ABA might be tightening requirements for passing the bar. These measures will bring down the 2.5/1 ratio – if that statistic is true.
What could newly minted lawyers do if they can’t find a job with a law firm in Illinois? I see two obvious options. First, pursue employment in another state. Second, look for a position outside of a law firm. Lawyers have skills that will translate to other careers, especially in financial services where the ability to read a contract is highly valued.
Is there currently a glut of lawyers in Illinois? Probably. However that doesn’t mean that unemployed lawyers will never work for a law firm or that their degree is “worthless.” Like all other unemployed workers in this tight job market, the key for new law graduates is to explore all options and stay flexible. Another key: Ignore hyperbolic claims and statistics that make no sense.
Francine Knowles of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that workers 55 years or older have had more success finding jobs. This trend is also true of workers age 20-24 and those 25-34. This is good news. However, some groups have not been so lucky.
The groups that have seen job loss are 35-54 and teenagers. Teens always suffer during periods of high unemployment. Middle-aged workers are often earning high wages, which motivates employers to lay them off in favor of lower-paid, younger workers.
Overall, the job market is still only ticking up. As I often say, that’s macroeconomics, and it’s important for how we live as a society. For individuals, the unemployment rate is less important. Job churn means that individuals will find job opportunities if they search the right way. Whatever your age, be ready to look for a job and be ready if an employer asks for your resume. When it comes to your career, only two questions matter: Do I have a job? Do I have the kind of job I want? I call that the 100% rule.
Writing in the Nation, Bryce Covert examines how women have faired in the current job “recovery.” She points out problems with government data that muddy a real evaluation of the current employment status of women. What is undeniable is the impact of cuts in public center jobs, which are disproportionately held by women. According to one estimate, women account for 70% of public sector job loss. Covert’s report shows how the war on women goes far beyond the contraception debate. It’s great that the Lilly Ledbetter Law passed. However, equal pay for equal work only matters if there are jobs for women.
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