According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the already slow economic recovery went into reverse last month. U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in December, reversing seven months of job gains. The final 2020 jobs report ended a year in which the economy lost more than nine million jobs. To put the total job loss into perspective, 2020 was the worst year for job loss on a percentage basis since World War II. This economic crisis, fueled by the pandemic, has upended industries and left many workers job hunting. But in this ever-changing, dynamic job market, we can no longer use the typical job search strategies that we’ve used over the past decades. Here are the five biggest mistakes job seekers make and what you must do differently to land your next job successfully.
You Have No Job Search Strategy
You can no longer think only about getting your next job. Instead, you need more choices and more control in this quickly changing job landscape. By creating a career playbook with multiple options and various paths to follow, along with a clear job search strategy, you will be positioned for success.
Given that the pandemic has upended our work and life, even forcing women out of the workforce, your job search strategy should start with a list of what is most important to you when looking for your next opportunity. For example, a recent survey found that 88% of workers said they wanted flexibility in their hours and location of where they worked. Whether your priorities are immediate income, job flexibility, or a career pivot, clarifying your constraints and preferences is the critical first step.
You Don’t Know Your Transferable Skills
Most job seekers only see themselves through the lens of a job title. Titles are just a shorthand way to convey what you do. While that is useful, you should think about titles as the beginning, but not the end, of how you now need to present yourself. Over the last few decades, we’ve seen industries and titles disappear. The big lesson is that even when titles and jobs disappear, your value in the marketplace cannot disappear along with it. Skills are the new currency, not job titles. Knowing your transferable skills, and knowing which ones are most valuable to employers, can help you get a new job, regardless of actual titles.
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You Don’t Know the Job Trends.
Another mistake job seekers make is they look for the job they lost. They don’t look at where the jobs are. Instead, you should stay up to date with the job trends to know where the opportunities are and which of your current skills you can leverage to your advantage.
According to Taryn Owen, president of industrial staffing agency PeopleReady, temporary jobs tend to be added to the workforce faster than permanent jobs following an economic downturn. Therefore, “job-seekers who are struggling to find full-time jobs may want to rethink their approach to include temporary jobs. These jobs not only provide immediate and steady income but offer the flexibility people want and need.” Their analysis of the top temporary jobs hiring over for the next 30 days found that construction and food preparation jobs top the list.
When looking at full-time jobs, LinkedIn’s most recent Jobs on the Rise report found that human-centric jobs that cater to needs brought on by the pandemic increased across the past year. They also saw an increase in the need for frontline e-commerce workers, health-care professionals, and workplace diversity experts and expect these trends to continue well into 2021.
You are not Upskilling
Many people falsely believe that their education ends once they receive their diploma. Learning is no longer a one and done—it’s now lifelong. This means that you should consider whether you should upskill to pivot to new industries. According to McKinsey, digital skills will make up 70% of the fastest-growing skills worldwide by looking even further out to the next decade, and interpersonal skills are becoming just as important. For example, technological coding and interactive skills are expected to rise by more than 50%. Social and emotional skills associated with leadership and initiative-taking will see an increase of more than 30%. The next decade will see marked changes in the skills most sought after: physical and manual skills required for repetitive tasks will drop by nearly 30%, as machines and robots take over rote tasks. The same is true for basic literacy and numeracy skills, which can be expected to drop by almost 20%.
You are not Broadening Your Ways to Work
As you job search, consider bridging the gap with different ways to work, such as freelancing, consulting, or even starting your own business. Two million Americans have started freelancing in the past 12 months, which has increased the workforce percentage that freelancers to 36%. While the pandemic forced hundreds of thousands of small businesses to close, people are also starting new businesses at the fastest rate in more than a decade.
We’ve all learned about the power of diversifying investment portfolios, and overall, the same rule applies to how you should think about your job search. Invest in yourself by taking the time to create a playbook and search strategy where you leverage your skills, knowledge of job trends, and ways you can work to your advantage.