Posted by Paul McDonald on Friday, December 5, 2014 - 00:00 | Follow me
The strong November jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) clearly shows that employers are in hiring mode. If you’re in the job market, now is not the time to slack off on your search. The holidays are here, but so are employment opportunities! Here’s my advice for making the most of these pivotal final weeks of the year.
While economists projected the November jobs report from the BLS would be strong, the number of U.S. payroll additions far exceeded expectations. Employers added 321,000 jobs in November — the strongest month of hiring since January 2012. The surge in hiring also means that 2014 will end up being the best year for job growth since 1999.
Here are some more notable findings from the November jobs report:
- The professional and business services sector enjoyed the greatest number of job gains (86,000). Within the industry, temporary help services added 23,000 jobs. Accounting and bookkeeping jobs were up by 16,000.
- The overall unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.8 percent; the unemployment rate for college-degreed workers 25 and older is just 3.2 percent.
- The BLS revised upward the figures for both September and October; 44,000 more jobs were created in these two months than previously reported.
The bottom line is that the hiring environment is very favorable for skilled job seekers. Here are my top five tips and takeaways from the November jobs report that you can use to enhance your job search:
1. Finish strong
As you look ahead to 2015, don’t let your job search go dormant these last few weeks of December. Despite conventional wisdom, right now is an excellent time to step up your search. Lots of employers are looking to make hires by December 31.
Moreover, many job candidates will go into a holding pattern, falsely believing that hiring grinds to a halt around the holidays. As a recruiter for Robert Half in the San Francisco Bay Area noted, “The main benefit is that there’s less competition now as opposed to after the New Year, when everyone wants to search for a new job.”
2. Know what you want and go after it
The end of the year is often a time of self-reflection and personal goal setting. Apply this type of introspective thinking to your career. Identify what you really want to do and where your professional passions lie. This will help you narrow your search and increase the chances of finding the right fit.
Then, rather than sending your resume to every employer with an opening, target the handful of companies and positions that truly interest you. Research those organizations and craft customized cover letters. Describe the specific skills and attributes you possess that will enable you to help those companies achieve their respective business goals.
One word of caution: While it’s certainly helpful to have a clear idea of your ideal opportunity, don’t be so rigid that you immediately reject any opening that fails to meet all your criteria. Know what factors are most important to you — pay, work-life balance, collaborative atmosphere, etc. — and be flexible on the others.
3. Get interview-ready now
The calendar is condensed at the end of the year, given vacations, holidays and all the associated festivities. Many employers want to interview candidates right away to take advantage of the few remaining days. So expect that you could be called for an interview at any time. In particular, be ready for a video interview over Skype, FaceTime or Microsoft Lync. Employers are in a hurry to hire, and a majority of hiring managers are using video as a first step.
If you haven’t interviewed in awhile, anticipate likely questions and think of responses that will allow you to pitch yourself effectively. Use the research you’ve conducted to explain why you are an ideal fit for a particular role and organization.
4. Don’t hem and haw
Got a job offer? Don’t jeopardize it by dragging your feet. Employers often have to move quickly this time of year in order to secure all the necessary sign-offs on a new hire before higher-level managers and HR reps are out of the office. Yes, it’s fine to take a day or two to consider an offer. But take much longer than that, and the hiring manager may question your interest and your decision-making ability and move on to other top candidates.
Caught up in compensation questions and concerns? Use respected resources such as Robert Half’s Salary Guides to research salary ranges for the position in your area.
5. Consider pursuing temporary and interim work
Employers are striving to meet year-end goals, and many are short staffed due to vacations. This means that skilled temporary professionals are in great demand. Project work allows you to gain new skills, make valuable contacts and earn money. But it also enables you to get a foot in the door.
A standout performance during your time temping or consulting can put you in excellent position to stay on longer term — or even convert to full time. Connect with a specialized staffing firm to learn more about temporary work. Well-connected recruiters often know of unadvertised job opportunities that might be right for you.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and let your job search slow. But it’s a missed opportunity. As the November jobs report shows, companies are hiring. Double down on your efforts now, and you could start 2015 with a new job.
U.S. Firms Surprise Big With 321,000 Jobs in November (U.S. News & World Report)
Now May Be the Best Time of Year to Get Hired (Fox Business)
What to Do When You’re Bored in the Office at the Holidays (MainStreet.com)