Job Market Cools Down as Weather Warms Up

The “Great Recession” has marked the largest economic downturn in American history since the Great Depression.  However, drastic hiring increases this winter led many economists to predict an upsurge in private sector hiring this spring.  That prediction has proven incorrect as hiring has slowed drastically from the blistering pace set during the winter months.  As hiring has slowed, job prospects have become evermore bleak.  In this stark economic environment it is important to separate yourself from the thousands of other applicants and to use your resume to impart a positive impression on employers.

That optimism that was created this winter was dashed after slow month of April, which saw the market add only 113,000 jobs. This number is down from a first quarter trend of 200,000 jobs per month and is the lowest total in the last seven months.  Speculation began that the upsurge of hiring during the winter months was an aberration. There was hope, however, that a decrease in the amount of applicants for unemployment benefits signified hiring would increase in May.   That hope proved unfounded as hiring has increased only minimally in May, up to 133,000 jobs compared to the 113,000 in the month of April.  These May numbers still pale in comparison to the trend created during the winter months.  The weak May numbers, coupled with an increase in the number of applications for unemployment benefits for the first time in over a month, disappointed economists who were hoping for a turnaround.  “The jobs data were not reassuring…” said Jennifer Lee, an economist for BMO capital markets.

Unemployment numbers have dropped from 9.1 percent last August to 8.1 percent today.  This drop is due in part to the addition of 1.5 million jobs over that time span, but also due to people giving up their search for work.  The unemployment numbers only take into account people actively searching for a job.  As job prospects have worsened people have quit searching for employment.

May has also seen an sharp decline in consumer confidence as it fell to its lowest level since January.  Data shows that consumers are more worried about jobs, housing and the stock market causing them to drastically cut back their spending.  This decrease in spending has negatively affected companies’ revenue and ability to add jobs casting a bleak forecast for the immediate future.

As the job market continues to dwindle, there are several helpful tips to remember when searching for a job. Be proactive in your hunt.  You should actively reach out to companies you admire.  Send them a cover letter and resume specifically indicating why you are interested in working for them.   Businesses want to hire people knowledgeable about, and interested in, their work.  Displaying that interest off the bat is a good way to separate yourself from the thousands of other applications they receive.  If it is possible, deliver your application in person. It shows initiative and employers are more likely to remember you if they can link a person to the resume.

Be sure to focus on the quality of your applications and not the quantity of applications you send out.  Make absolutely certain your resume is proofread and current.  Submit exactly what the employer asks for. If they want a resume and cover letter, send them a resume and cover letter. Do not be afraid of job search sites and social media.  There are dozens of jobs search sites scattered across the internet that can be extremely helpful finding open positions.  If there is a company that interests you, create a Twitter account and follow it to stay up to date on the current events and status of the company.  Ensure that you have a clean online profile by getting rid of any potentially embarrassing photos and posts on Facebook, and maintaining a clean and professional LinkedIn profile.  Google yourself to see if any unwanted information is still floating around on the internet.  All of these tips will help set you apart and make you to employers.

After a strong showing this winter hiring has tapered off with the coming of spring, making it evermore necessary to separate yourself from the competition.  April and May saw a decrease in the creation of new jobs and an increase in the applications for unemployment benefits.  The optimism created by the upswing in hiring  this winter has died off taking with it consumer confidence.  As hiring continues to stagnate, use these tips separate yourself from the thousands of other applicants out there.  Pound the pavement, be proactive, network and hopefully you will be able to not only find a job, but find the right job.

My Take

Despite a strong winter, the job market is still bleak. During these tough economic times it is important to stay positive while searching for a job.  Do not blindly email resumes to every company with an open position.  Take the time to ensure that your resume stands out and expresses how and why you are the best man or woman for the job. Most important of all is to stay positive. You have to realize that you have to knock on a lot of doors before you find the right job for you and your future.

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