“This is the tightest labor market I can remember. Unemployment is at a 50-year low and wage growth is at 3.2%,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist for Indeed.com, during the fifth-annual Indeed Interactive conference, held last month in Austin, Texas.
Over 1,800 recruiters and HR professionals attended the event, eager to hear from Indeed.com executives and guest speakers about the best ways job seekers can get noticed in today’s ubercompetitive recruiting environment.
As a career coach, I attended it with the goal of applying what I learned about the labor market and branding techniques to help you get noticed by recruiters if you’ll be job hunting.
The Hot, Hot, Hot Job Market
I’ll share some tips in a moment, but first, a bit more about the sizzling labor market.
In short, this continues to be an exceedingly good time for job seekers. Aside from low unemployment, wages are climbing. And most economists believe the odds of a recession happening this year are low.
At some point in the next few years, hiring will slow. ‘It’s when, not if,’ Kolko explained.
However, Kolko warned, the good times won’t last forever. Kolko joked that “economists are not very good at predicting recessions, and everyone else is worse.” But at some point in the next few years, he advised, hiring will slow. “It’s when, not if,” he emphasized.
So what should job hunters and people looking to recession-proof their careers be doing? Three things:
Look for a Recession-Resistant Field
Try to work in the kind of industries that hold up best during an economic downturn. These tend to be sectors that service the local economy, like health care, government, education, food and retail.
Of course, you shouldn’t pick a career just because it seems recession-proof. But it’s smart to research the long-term occupational outlook before trying to make a switch.
These days, health care is the largest U.S employer, with projections that the sector will add more jobs between 2016 and 2026 than any other occupational group.
Don’t Put Off a Job Search
If you’ve been thinking about looking for a job, now is the time to start. That’s because even a slight dip in employment numbers can cause employers to seriously curtail hiring plans.
“Hiring always ends up being more volatile than employment numbers,” Kolko said. “When employment dips, hiring plummets.” For example, in 2009, when employment fell by 5%, hiring dropped by 20%.
Build Your Personal Brand
To attract the attention of recruiters (either now or sometime in the future), develop a compelling personal brand that clearly communicates your value to employers.
Jennifer McClure, an Indeed.com keynote speaker and leadership coach based in Cincinnati, offered three ways to do that (for more of her tips, download McClure’s free workbook on her site):
1. Define Your Brand. To better understand what makes you unique, ask yourself: What do you know more about than most people? What differentiates you from others who do the same work as you? What are you known as the go-to person for?
Then, ask your friends, colleagues and peers: What three words best describe me? Keep a running list of their responses in a Word document, and upload that to Wordle.net to get a visual “word cloud” representation of how others see you.
2. Create a Personal Branding Statement that conveys your value in a way that entices others to want to know more about you. Then, use this branding statement on your LinkedIn profile and when networking.
McClure suggests using this framework: I am (Professional Identity) who helps (my audience) do or understand (unique solution) so that (transformation/benefit). For example, “I am a consultant who helps nonprofits in the health care sector develop new fundraising campaigns, so they can increase and expand their research capabilities.”
3. Communicate your personal brand by sharing your expertise. Do this by writing a blog or sharing relevant articles on LinkedIn, speaking at professional events and staying active on social media. By consistently promoting your brand, you make it easier for employers to find you and assess your credibility, knowledge and experience.
Expert’s Advice to Employers: Hire for an Age-Diverse Culture
One last thing from the Indeed conference: Danny Stacey, a recruitment evangelist (yes, that’s his real title!) with Indeed.com, urged employers to include age diversity as part of their recruitment strategy.
“Hiring for an inclusive and age-diverse culture has the potential to improve company performance, lower turnover, and increase overall productivity,” he noted.
To attract older workers, Stacey advised, companies should rewrite their job descriptions to target workers of all ages. Eliminate terms like “Digital Native” or “High Energy” that discourage older applicants, he urged.
Stacey also recommended employers do more to bridge the skills gap by providing ongoing training opportunities for all generations.
Next Avenue Editors Also Recommend:
- Working Longer in America: Prospects and Problems
- Older Job Hunters: Powerfully Good News
- 5 Ways to Keep Your Resume Out of the ‘No’ Pile
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