It’s back to school for the kids and back to the job hunt for many adults.
Even folks who are unhappy with their jobs tend to put off the hunt for a new one until summer vacations are over. Hiring managers, too, get back into the swing. And many companies will ramp up hiring before the end of the year—and their budgets.
As for the economy, the number of first-time unemployment claims declined in August, and the four-week average is just about back where it was in 2007 before the financial crisis.
It is still the case, however, that salaries and raises have been pretty flat. Companies have gotten used to getting by with less, and they are not going to jump out of the cost-cutting mindset any time soon.
The bottom line: opportunities are out there, but not so many that you can afford to be casual about your search. Here are some ways to rev up your search.
Revamp your resume. Take a fresh look at your resume and make sure it is really presenting you in the best light. Does it reflect your most recent experiences and show measurable results? Remember that recruiters generally take a quick–very quick–glance at the top one-third of your resume and if it doesn’t grab their interest, they move on to the next candidate. Craft a compelling executive summary that helps you stand out from the crowd. And check your skills list—are you using words that are common in the job descriptions you are reading? Make sure your resume includes the keywords and phrases recruiters in your industry are looking for.
Power up your network. Autumn is a great time to catch up with former colleagues and to expand your network at business and social events. Remember you won’t be the only person out there looking for new opportunities, so be sure to offer advice or referrals as often as you can. What goes around really does come around.
Polish your skills. No matter what industry you are in, or where you are in your career, there is always more to learn. And with the number of free and low-cost online courses now available, you have no excuse not to stay current. Look at the courses on Udemy, Coursea and General Assembly, among others. Or sign up for a public speaking course or a pitch night to develop your confidence in talking about yourself and your ideas so you will really shine at an interview.
Get a mentor and become a mentor. If you are serious about your search, find someone who can guide you through the process. A mentor can provide a perspective that your friends and family cannot on how you present yourself. A mentor may also offer industry insights and might have ideas for your search you hadn’t considered. Consider becoming a mentor as well. Mentoring someone else not only helps them, but may also help you by reminding you of your skills and experience—in other words, what you have to offer an employer.