Tom: You are joining us this morning with some advice for job seekers.
Mellody: I am! We are seeing fresh signs that the job market continues to get better. Americans have enough confidence in the employment outlook they are willing to leave their current jobs and move to new positions, which is great news! This morning, I have a few tips to help those in our audience who are considering starting a new chapter to get hired.
Tom: Fantastic! But first, tell us what are you seeing that is signaling an improving job market.
Mellody: The biggest signs come from the Labor Department’s job openings and labor turnover survey, which is released later than the traditional monthly jobs report, and takes a more detailed look at the labor market. The March survey showed that the number of hires increased by 56,000 to about 5.1 million, with the retail, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors leading the way in hiring. Additionally, the number of job openings is up nearly 18 percent from a year ago, and the ratio of unemployed workers for every job opening is at 1.7:1, dropping below the pre-recession level of 1.8:1, and down sharply from the high of 6.7:1 in 2009. Finally, nearly 2.8 million Americans quit their jobs in march, up from 2.7 million in February. While this may seem like a bad sign, a higher number of quits is a sign of a dynamic labor market in which workers feel confident enough to leave one job for another.
Tom: OK. So if our listeners are among those who want to change jobs, where do they start?
Mellody: The first thing you need to do when thinking about changing jobs is to define your goals for the new position. Going through this exercise will ensure that changing jobs will benefit you. Consider whether your goals are primarily financial in nature (a higher salary, a better retirement plan, or healthcare benefits), personal in nature (a better work life balance or a shorter commute), or professional (perhaps you want a job with more leadership or promotion opportunities or better professional development programs). Once you have decided why you are changing jobs and what you would like to accomplish by doing so, then you can begin your search to find the companies with job openings that fit these parameters.
Tom: We have determined our goals. What comes next?
Mellody: The next step is to find the companies out there with openings that meet your criteria. The career search landscape has changed significantly in the past few years, as employers from Chase to Chipotle have moved most, if not all, of their recruiting efforts online. This shift has benefitted job seekers, making it much easier to find job opportunities. However, it also means that in order to conduct a successful search, you will need to embrace the digital tools at your disposal, from a basic Google search to individual company websites to social networking and jobs sites.
For example, using a basic Google search, you can find companies of a certain kind in a certain area. For example, accounting firms in Chicagoland. Then you simply go to their individual sites to find out more about what they do and if there are any positions open that match your new career goals. Going a step further, you can use more specific tools on jobs sites, such as the LinkedIn search function. These will let you search jobs or companies by keyword, and filter the results by location or title. This will allow you to see a broad swath of potentially relevant positions, rather than simply searching for jobs at companies that you already know. One you have found a good list of possible positions, you can then research each job and company to make sure they match your goals.
Tom: Anything else we should think about?
Mellody: I have said it before, and i will say it again. You have to remember that in this new, digital environment, you are not just researching employers. They are also researching you! That means you have to manage your digital presence to ensure that you are putting your best face forward. Not only should you be utilizing sites like LinkedIn to highlight your positives, and engaging with your professional network, you have to make sure you scrub your social network sites of anything that could leave a bad impression. Make your Facebook page private. If you use Twitter to follow sports or celebrity news, make sure it is unsearchable or remove your name from it at the very least. You have to make absolutely certain that your personal sites stay personal, while taking advantage of your digital presence to put yourself out there.
Tom: Always great advice, Mellody. Have a great week!
Mellody: You too, Tom!
Mellody is President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts. Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.