Landing a job can be a major challenge in a sluggish market, but thankfully, today's job seekers have plenty of opportunity to become gainfully employed. That's because right now, there are a whopping 6.17 million open jobs on the market, according to Labor Department data. That's a record high, in case you were keeping track. (Case in point: Back in 2009, on the heels of the Great Recession, there were only 2.2 million jobs available.)
Of course, finding a job isn't just a matter of clicking on random listings and hoping for the best. There's an art to landing the ideal work opportunity. With that in mind, here are some tips for navigating the process.
1. Produce a strong resume
Your resume shouldn't be the sort of document you set and forget. Rather, it pays to tailor your resume to each job you're applying to by focusing on the skills that are most likely to get you hired. For example, if you're aiming to land a project manager role, play up the fact that you're currently tasked with maintaining a reporting calendar for your team, even if that's only one of several responsibilities you hold.
Just as important, make sure your resume is loaded with action verbs because that's something recruiters are always looking to see. Also, use hard data whenever possible to showcase your talent -- if you increased sales by 25%, say so. Finally, make sure your resume is clean, consistent, and grammatically correct. Nothing kills an otherwise strong candidate's chances like a glaring spelling error.
2. Work on your interview skills
Though going to job interviews can be nerve-wracking, it's also a key part of the hiring process. That's why it's crucial to brush up on your interview skills before you find yourself face-to-face with a prospective employer. First, research each role you're called in to discuss so that you're armed with a reasonable amount of knowledge. Next, study your resume so that you're prepared to review your skills and present responsibilities.
Additionally, make sure your wardrobe allows you to dress the part, and if not, invest in some professional attire immediately. Finally, gear up for the different curveballs and loaded questions you might face. The more prepared you come in, the better your chances of a successful interview.
3. Focus on networking
Just because there are tons of jobs out there, it doesn't mean finding the right one will be easy. That's why networking is such a critical part of the job-hunting game. On a basic level, knowing someone at a given company will give you a better shot at getting your foot in the door. But what you may not realize is that having the right connections could unearth new opportunities, like a recently opened position that's yet to be listed.
Imagine, in fact, that you happen to reach out to an old associate the very week that person's manager decides to hire a new production manager for the team. If you're perfect for the job, and you let it be known that you're looking, you might snag an interview before the job is shared with the public.
4. Know how much money you're worth
When you're seeking out a new job, the last thing you want to do is accept a role where the salary leaves much to be desired. That's why you'll need to know what sort of compensation to demand as you go through the interview process. Job-hunting site Glassdoor has an extremely helpful "Know Your Worth" tool that can help you determine what folks in your industry are making based on factors such as job title and geographic location. Before you accept an offer, plug some info into that tool, or use a similar one, to get a good sense of how much you should be earning.
Now, one thing to keep in mind is that in some cases, a strong benefits package can more than make up for lackluster compensation. Say you research your job title and learn that people in your area typically earn between $55,000 and $60,000 a year. If the highest your potential employer will go is $52,000, but you'll also get unlimited vacation and fully subsidized health insurance so that you're not paying a dime toward your premiums, you might consider accepting that offer.
No matter what stage you're at in your career, clearly, now's a great time to be in the market for work. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you'll be well on your way to a rewarding new job.