The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this June that the unemployment rate in the U.S. remained steady at 3.6%. That’s the lowest the rate has been since 1969—back when the minimum wage was $1.45 an hour, the average new home cost just $15,550, and gas was 35 cents a gallon.
Reaching 3.6% puts the country officially at “full employment” status. In casual terms, it’s defined this way: Everyone who wants a job can get a job. It’s what the government calls the highest reasonable expectation of employment for a national economy.
There Are Opportunities, But…
If you’re looking for a new job, it’s clear there are opportunities out there. But the bigger challenge will be finding an opportunity with a competitive salary and benefits.
The Economic Policy Institute tracks year-over-year changes in average hourly earnings. Despite a tight labor market, wages have risen only nominally. A weak labor market since the recession of 2009 put downward pressures on wages. Even as a jobs recovery has occurred, wage growth has fallen below targets for the majority of workers.
So, if you want to take home a bigger paycheck, you have to do something to make it happen.
10 Tips for Finding a Job During Periods of “Full Employment”
1. Locate the Right Opportunity
The higher up you go on the job ladder, the less likely you are to find the job on public job boards. Finding Executive jobs can be a challenge. And, even when you do find them, there’s no guarantee anyone will review your resume. Most companies use applicant tracking systems, which means your resume could be filtered out by an algorithm instead of a hiring manager or recruiter. These ATS algorithms have clear limitations—for example, many can’t process rich formatting like text boxes and tables. They also heavily rely on keywords to evaluate a candidate’s relevancy to a job opening.
To make sure your application is reviewed by a real person, start by networking with your peers and business associates. Attend industry events and conferences. Personal referrals are always the best way to present yourself to a potential employer.
You can also consider having your resume reviewed by a professional. Experts can help you perfect your application materials to give you the best chance of progressing to the interviewing stage. Ivy Exec, for example, offers a free resume review for members.
2. Target Your Next Employer
Once you’ve found a job you want, do some research on the company to make sure it’s a fit for you culturally and economically. You can find this information on the company’s website, employer branding materials, public rankings, and employee review sites. It always helps to also compare those findings with information you gather from colleagues.
3. Leverage Your LinkedIn Network
LinkedIn may be one of your best resources in your job search. Even though their job boards aren’t designed for senior-level employees, you can still use the platform to connect with other Executives. When you’ve identified a position, check if you have any connections with anyone in the company. Often, you’ll find you have a second- or third-degree connection. That means someone you know has connections with the person you want to get in front of. Use your connections to make the introduction you need.
4. Market Your Skills
Creating thought leadership content is another way to market yourself. You can publish industry insights, comment on trends, and offer guidance on websites such as LinkedIn or Medium. These articles will help showcase your ideas in front of a professional audience. When C-level Executives search for information about your credentials, the articles you publish call attention to your expertise.
And, when a verification company or HR recruiter does the obligatory online search for your name, these articles will likely show up near the top of a search engine results page. This visibility helps with your personal SEO (Search Engine Optimization) value and can push any negative items further down the list.
Pro tip: When you create content, make sure to share it. Being active on LinkedIn will boost your profile’s visibility, and generating more reads helps improve an article’s SEO value.
5. Clean Up Your Online Presence & Offline Appearance
You’d be surprised how many top-level executives don’t take the time to clean up their online professional image. Professional profile photos with accurate job and education listings are minimum requirements. No matter what industry you’re in, you will be expected to understand technology and participate. A poorly managed online presence signals you’re not staying current on the ways your customers communicate.
If you haven’t done it already, it’s time to search for your name on Google. Do an online “First Name Last Name” search and see what shows up. If it’s not something that shows you in the best light, prepare a response to the situation in case it comes up during an interview. If you can’t find your information at all, this can also be a red flag for employers. Publishing online content will help increase your online visibility.
No doubt you’ve heard these pieces of advice: “Dress for success” and “Dress for the job you want.” There’s wisdom in these adages. Spend a few bucks on a professional wardrobe. Even if it’s unfair, appearances do make a difference.
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6. Ask for Help
You’re probably in a demanding job already and might feel like you don’t have the time to do the thorough job search that’s needed to find the perfect fit. Consider asking for assistance.
Recruiters can help Senior Executives find their next opportunity quickly. This allows you to continue to work at your current job knowing someone is looking out for the right opportunity for you.
7. Learn New Skills
Learning something new is always a good idea. Whether you pursue higher education opportunities, earn certifications, or take online courses, your continued education signals your commitment to personal growth and excellence. It makes you stand out in a field of applicants and gives you bargaining power when negotiating salary.
8. Don’t Overlook Opportunities in Your Company
The grass really isn’t always greener on the other side. The perfect job may be within your own organization already. Let your Senior Managers know you’re interest in advancing your career.
One of the fastest ways to increase your salary is to get promoted.
9. Schedule Your Time
Whether you want to go for an internal promotion or find a new opportunity, you have to make the time to do it. Approach it like a strategic initiative you would take on at work.
Create a plan, break it down into specific action items, and then put them on the calendar. Whether your strategy includes attending an event, doing a networking lunch with a colleague, calling former coworkers, or building your resume, schedule it and stick to the agenda.
10. Be Selective!
There will always be a demand for high-quality, high-performing employees. Even so, you need to connect with the people who can help advance your career, stand out from the crowd, and present yourself in the most positive light. It might be easier to find a job during periods of full employment—but it will take more work to find something that meets your employment expectations.
It’s your career. Take ownership, and you can make it happen!
Looking for your next career opportunity? Ivy Exec reviewed the best consulting firms to work for in 2019.