Despite the increase in the number of new job openings in the US, many people are still unemployed, and some experience difficulties finding jobs. While many businesses complain about the labor shortage, it also impacts consumers. So, what is the current employment situation in the US? Is it easy to get a job during a pandemic?
PissedConsumer interviewed career coaches, recruiters, and job experts to get a better understanding of the current labor market and find answers to the following top questions on job search and employment:
- What’s the employment situation?
- Is there a labor shortage in the U.S.?
- What are current labor market trends?
- Contracting vs. Full-time employment
- How to apply for a job with less experience?
- Soft skills vs. Hard skills
- How to search for a job during the pandemic?
- Job search scams
Interviewed Job-Search and Career Experts:
What Is the Employment Situation in the U.S. Now?
Andrew Fennell: The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the unemployment rate at the end of 2021 sits at 4.2% and is fairly equal for men and women. Employment sits at around 59.2% according to these same figures, slightly below 61.1% in Feb 2020, which is seen as pre-pandemic.
Generally, 'The Great Resignation' is being skewed by largely older workers leaving the workforce who were close to retirement anyway, but it is causing a growing sentiment online due to the vast interest in the media. You can see the /r/antiwork Subreddit for an impassioned example of people sharing their stories of quitting and distaste for work. The employment situation right now is one where candidates with experience are worth more to employers than they were a year or two ago.
Marie Zimenoff: A lot of people right now are looking to make a change. So not only are they job searching, but they're wanting to change their industry or change their role... Even though there are so many jobs available, and that's part of the disconnect that's happening in the market right now, there's a lack of talent that has been doing that exact job that wants to keep doing that exact job...
The people who are hiring are saying, "We're seeing a lot of unqualified people. Why aren't the people who are qualified applying?" Well, because the people who are qualified want to do something different. And that's kind of the shift we're seeing in the marketplace right now.
Is There a Labor Shortage in the U.S.?
Andrew Fennell: Various reports will tell you different things about the current labor situation in the U.S., however, recruiters and hiring managers are seeing a shortage in lower-paid, often described as lower-skilled roles, such as delivery personnel, and retail/hospitality staff to name but a few.
There will be many who simply aren't looking to get into work at this time as they have a surplus of cash from stimulus checks, investments, or benefiting from the property boom. Economists and industry experts cannot, and should not, point to one reason causing the labor shortage, but there is a growing sentiment against employees who don't treat their staff fairly.
2022 will see these employers suffer more as staff move to jobs with better perks, benefits, and work-life balances. For example, those businesses who are prepared to offer remote or hybrid working are going to attract far more candidates than those restricting employees to work solely from the office.
For more on the labor shortage and unemployment issue, you may watch this video with Marie Zimenoff
What Are the Current Labor Market Trends?
Andrew Fennell: Jobs that utilize digital marketing and tech skills are more in demand now than at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic due to businesses developing their online presence further: budgets have been re-allocated for this as e-commerce thrives.
New jobs that emerged from the pandemic are those that traditionally were solely office-based but now can be done remotely. People have access to jobs around the country due to the remote revolution.
The pandemic job search rewards those who show they have good adaptability to changing situations as this is all the last two years have been. Those who can show they are able to communicate effectively in a hybrid environment will benefit across most professional industries. The job search is still competitive despite 'the great resignation' so don't be fooled into thinking it's now open season. The majority of workers leaving the job market are older, therefore you need skills and experience to help fill this gap.
Contracting vs. Full-Time Employment: Which Is Trending?
Marie Zimenoff: So the freelancer and contract work economy has taken a complete 180. So right before COVID, there was a lot of pushback on that. People want full-time jobs, they don't want to be freelancers. It's lesser than work. And then COVID came. And now you've seen a huge resurgence in that market.
People used to work very strategically and making good money and doing solid work in that area. It's not just Uber and Lyft and those types of things, which we tend to think about. There's a big economy of big companies hiring out contractors and doing that freelance or gig work, and that will continue until people decide they don't like it anymore, and then it'll be interesting to see if there's a pushback against it at some point. And if it's something that ebbs and flows, that's kind of my prediction, is that at some point it will ebb again, and people won't want that type of work, they want the full-time job.
How to Apply for a Job with Less Experience?
Ben Taylor: This is challenging but not impossible. In some cases, training can fill the gap - especially in any role that’s “portfolio based.” Often, modern courses involve full projects that can act as examples of work. And there’s nothing to stop an individual working on personal projects that demonstrate their expertise and commitment. A programmer, for example, could refer a potential employer to their work on open-source projects, or a designer could show off logos and websites created for some local not-for-profits.
Volunteering is another option to gain that experience - few people relish working for free, but if it’s part of working towards a long-term goal, it could prove more than worth it, and be rewarding too.
Are Soft Skills Or Hard Skills More Important?
Ben Taylor: Arguably, they’re both just as important, but I think we’re moving into a phase where soft skills are particularly revered. This is especially relevant to remote and asynchronous working. People well-versed in managing remote teams, handling projects across timezones, and working well without the structure of a 9-5 office are likely to find themselves in demand in 2022 and beyond.
Marie Zimenoff: Employers are used to hiring someone that has the hard skills that they need, and job seekers are adapting to this because we tend to default too quickly to soft skills where we could communicate harder skills, relevant skills, and not that soft skills aren't relevant, but they're not as easy to transfer. So job seekers tend to default to that too quickly, instead of really looking at how they could translate and communicate that they are qualified for the role in terms of the hard skills, even though they're changing industries.
How to Make an Effective Job Search During Pandemic?
Mike Grossman: To carry out an effective job search during the pandemic, focus on growing your professional network. When it comes to fast-tracking your job search, you might be surprised to find that sending more applications is not the most effective approach. Instead, the best course of action is to leverage your professional circle as a means to bridge the gap between yourself and the companies you're interested in.
As opposed to traditional job boards and employment websites, one study found that a striking 85% of jobs are filled entirely through networking. This stands to reason that the most tactical job search approach is to treat your network in much the same way you'd treat your resume: a powerful tool to spread far and wide.
An expansive network means more people to connect with, which often leads to more employment opportunities later down the line. If you focus on talking to people and taking an interest in what they do without an ulterior motive, your job search will naturally fall into place.
Matthew Warzel: Improper communications. I see a lot of job seekers who quite frankly have not built up enough business acumen and their written and verbal communication makes it obvious. Quick sentences like, "here's my resume, what do you think?" without even an introduction or a thank you at the end is frustrating for hiring professionals, recruiters, and career coaches/resume writers like myself. Act proper. Act like you don't know this person because you don't. No one owes you anything, so treat every interaction like you're meeting an important person to you. Also, misspellings in written communications aren't showing attention to detail.
What Are Job Search Scams and How to Avoid Them?
Mike Grossman: To avoid falling victim to a job search scam, consumers should always make sure that the company they're applying to has a strong online presence. Every professional company should have an established online identity at a minimum, usually in the form of a website and up-to-date profiles across social media.
If you can't find a company online or even verify their contact details, there's a high likelihood that the company's job post is a scam. To verify, carry out a simple Google search in which you type out the name of the company followed by the word "scam". If any search results point toward warnings on online forums or company review websites, make sure to steer clear.
While it’s not easy to get a dream job and switch careers, there are still many opportunities in the labor market today. If you’re looking to change your role or find a new job, now is the best time to do it.
We thank our experts for taking part in this survey and sharing tips on a job search and employment in general. You are welcome to leave your comments below.
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- employment tips
- full-time vs. contracting
- hard skills vs. soft skills
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- job search scams
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- labor market trends
- labor shortage
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