How is the job market doing these days? This week’s topic was inspired by an earlier conversation I had with a client. In the midst of her own job search, she wanted to know what kind of climate I was observing in the job market today, based on my conversations with other candidates and hiring managers.
While every sector and geographic market varies, overall, hiring is on a steady upswing. LearnVest reports that all 50 states in the US will see some level of job growth this year and next, and that this is true in both full time and part time or freelance capacities.
Freelance and temporary talent, in particular, make up more than 15% of the workforce today, expected to grow to more than 20% by 2020, Forbes reports. And we should expect this growth trend to continue.
Why? Because millennials are facing tougher job prospects and also valuing flexibility in their lives, while retirees are staying engaged in the workforce past retirement as freelancers and consultants capitalize on their knowledge and experience in new capacities.
I look at any rise like this and consider it a favorable condition, as it translates to companies prioritizing and utilizing their hiring budgets. And unlike in recent years where companies favored flexible workers as a cost-saving strategy, freelance and contract talent is now more of a trend making its place into the market to attract top talent looking for flexible work options that provide more balance.
I can go on forever about what the articles say, but here’s what I’m observing, and deducing, based on my own experience working with hundreds of job seekers across multiple industry verticals:
Conditions overall are better in the job market. Far less people are coming to me because they remain unemployed, or experienced a layoff. In the majority of cases, it’s more about a personal choice to change jobs, careers, industries, or markets. Furthermore, I’m getting a lot of more “rush jobs”, which is to say that people are being presented with opportunities directly, and need to get their materials in order to meet active recruiting demands.
More people are exploring the job market passively. Which means people are gainfully employed – but also know from talking with their own peers that they have options.
I’m seeing more instances of “custom-made” roles. Multiple candidates have told me that they were hired on the basis of a job being created FOR them, based on their skills and expertise, because they brought something unique to the table. This means companies are paying close attention and putting value on attracting and retaining good talent, enough so that they’re willing to bend their own processes a bit to bring those people into the organization.
More people are changing career paths or going back to an earlier focus in their career. Maybe the last 10 years of someone’s resume has been all about advertising. But they’re tired of the agency life, and want to re-explore their previous career in real estate. In today’s job market, transferrable skills are a huge selling point for many candidates, and it’s important to continue to develop yourself in multiple areas for the future.
The majority of people I work with often have varied career paths. One job here, another career here, a stint in this industry – and now they want to figure out how to pull all of that experience together into a cohesively branded story that they can market to employees. Diversity of experience and skills can be a great asset when you package it effectively.
As I always tell clients and job seekers – every company, every market, and even every hiring manager is different, and it can be difficult to really zero in on what’s going on out there in the job market. But there’s growth – plenty of it, in many sectors – and the best thing you can do to benefit from that is stop worrying, and start marketing. Get yourself into an ideal position to start your search – prepare a strong portfolio of materials, know what your marketing message, and your value proposition is, and hone in on the types of companies and industries you want to work for.
And then do more research – what’s happening in that industry? The easiest way to catch a hiring manager’s eye is to immerse yourself in their industry. Follow blogs, make connections, learn new skills, and take on freelance projects to build your resume. The opportunities are out there.