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2.6 State of the Market: Launching Your Job Search at This Time
- Understand the current job market and how it impacts your overall job search.
- Learn strategies to tailor your job search to this market.
Three Trends in the Twenty-First-Century Job Search
Today’s job search can be characterized by three emerging trends:
- 24/7 activity
- An entrepreneurial approach
- A multigenerational workforce
24/7 Job Search
With mobile devices and broadband Internet access, it is very easy to connect to people at all times of the day and on weekends. While formal job search activity still centers on normal business hours, it is easier and therefore more acceptable for job search activity to take place at all hours. It can be the middle of the night, and therefore you can still do the following:
- Draft cover letters and other marketing material using your word-processing software.
- Research companies over the Internet.
- Connect with people via social media.
Other job candidates will be working hard on their search, so you might feel obligated to compete with this extra time, hence the 24/7 job search. Even if you want to set time boundaries, jobs are increasingly global, so there is a significant chance that you might have to network and interview with people in time zones across the world. Finally, with job insecurity high after the recent recession, it is less likely that you will quit your job outright to devote time to your search. Students don’t have the option to opt out of classes during their job search, so the job search activity is on top of everything else, extending your typical day.
With the tight labor market (more available job candidates than employers ready to hire), the competition is intense. The rise of social media gives job seekers the ability to brand themselves in a way formerly associated only with companies. Job seekers are marketing their job potential the way companies market goods and services. This requires job seekers to develop branding, marketing, and sales skills normally associated with entrepreneurs.
Many job seekers are turning to consulting and freelancing during a protracted job search, thus becoming entrepreneurs by default. Even recent graduates are starting businesses, piecing together several smaller projects rather than a single internship, and consulting or interning after graduating in lieu of full-time employment. Your ability to adopt an entrepreneurial approach to your job search will be necessary as your competition increasingly does the same.
There are four generations currently in the workforce:
- Generation Y, born between 1980 and 1995
- Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980
- Baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1964
- Traditionalists, born before 1945
Each generation grew up with different work expectations, technology, and communication styles. There is a culture clash as four generations work closely together. Much has been made in the media of the generational clash. As a job seeker, you will likely interview with someone from a different generation who has specific preconceptions of you. You may not change your job search tactics in anticipation of a clash that may not arise, but you want to be sensitive to some of the anxiety in the market.
What the Emerging Trends Mean for Your Job Search
You can use the 24/7 job search trend to your advantage by using the connectivity as extra time and resources for your job search. If you are comfortable with online research and online social networks, these are helpful tools to add to your job search.
You can incorporate the entrepreneurial techniques of branding, marketing, and sales into the way you brand, market, and sell yourself, thus enhancing your job search skills. If you can get consulting or freelance work while you search, that is a bonus for your finances and your experience base.
The multigenerational workforce is ripe for conflict, but there are also additional opportunities to add value as a collaborative team player. Be aware that communication styles, work styles, and expectations are different among the generations. Make a concerted effort to build rapport when you are dealing with everyone, but especially people in different generations from yourself. Do not assume that they share your same preferences.
- The current job market is characterized by 24/7 activity, increased entrepreneurship, and a multigenerational workforce.
- Savvy job seekers can incorporate these trends into their job search to increase their value over the competition.
- Do you hear about these trends for the areas that you are targeting for your job search?
- How are you going to set boundaries for yourself so you don’t fall into the trap of looking for a job 24/7?
- If the notion of acting entrepreneurially appeals to you, add books about branding, marketing, and sales to your job search reading list.
- Write down assumptions you have about the different generations, including your generation. Actually seek out people in those generations and ask them to share their assumptions. Compare your results to increase your awareness and open the lines of communication.