With the current unemployment rate staying right around 4% since 2018, the job market is considered solidly in the job seeker’s favor. If you’re tired of feeling trapped in your current job, now’s the time to make the change. A low unemployment rate means that there are more open jobs than there are job seekers. Each application you send out has a better chance of landing the job than ever before.
This turning of the tables is new territory for many hiring managers. After the 2008 recession, jobs were scarce and the unemployment rate soared to 10%. Companies had their pick of the litter when it came to candidates. They could double the years of experience needed, require advanced degrees, and still get candidates who met these insane criteria. Now that the unemployment rate has dropped, the ball is finally in your court as a job seeker.
Make the most of this historically low unemployment rate with these three tips.
Bat Out of Your League
That dream job that you fit almost all the requirements for? Go ahead and apply. A tight labor market means that employers are likely to overlook some of the less essential items on their candidate wish list. This goes for both job seekers that are making a transition to a new career field and for those trying to move up the corporate ladder. If you’re applying to a more senior role, but you’re missing a couple years of experience, companies are more likely to give you a shot. They’ll fill your skill gap with training and professional development, which is a win-win. You gain valuable skills, they gain a valuable employee. So apply for the job that’s always felt just out of reach! In a tight labor market, luck is on your side – and we all know fortune favors the bold.
Focus on Culture Fit
There’s no rush to settle for a job you don’t like for a company you don’t love. Take your time and find a company that’s the right match for you. Make a list of the benefits and culture you want in your dream work environment. From 401K matching to fully paid healthcare to generous vacation policies, you can find somewhere that checks all your boxes. But make sure to look beyond just the compensation package! Investigate the company culture. You want to find somewhere that people genuinely enjoy working at. Check out review sites, company career pages, or even reach out to other employees on LinkedIn for the inside scoop.
Once you’ve found a company whose values resonate with yours, you’ll have the upper hand in the interview. During a period of low unemployment, companies want to bring on people who will stay around for the long haul. Hiring is an expensive process, so employers look to hire individuals who will mesh well with their current staff and move up within their company.
Ask for More
Don’t be afraid of it. When you don’t have much experience, it can feel wrong to try and negotiate a higher salary or better benefits. Don’t let that insecurity hold you back. Once you’ve received an offer, understand that the employer wants to bring you on. Obviously, this doesn’t mean to make outlandishly unreasonable demands, like tripling your salary. Instead, ask for a 5-15% salary bump or an extra week of vacation. Especially if you have some qualifications that go beyond the job description, you can argue that your skillset brings more to the table, increasing your value.
Keep that imposter syndrome at bay! Do you research to get insight both on your value and how the company typically compensates their employees. Use tools like Dice’s salary calculator so you know your worth going into the negotiation. You can use review sites like Glassdoor to see how other employees are paid, based on position. If you’ve got the offer letter, you’re their top choice – they’ve invested time and money in moving your through their hiring process, and it’s expensive for them to try and go through it with a new person. So long as your request is reasonable and you can support your case, the company is likely to accept your proposal.
As a job seeker, there are a bunch of benefits that come with a low unemployment rate. Make the most of the tight labor market and grow your career.