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Job Searching in a Tight Job Market Tips

Just before spring break, SI Career Services Senior Associate Director Joanna Kroll gathered tips and suggestions from all the UM "experts" (aka the different career services staff here at UM) to share with our students. I wanted to share with you all the tips that were gathered from our colleagues. These are great little ways to get an edge on other candidates that are competing for the same job as you. Also are some figures and facts about the market and our students' employment outcomes.

According to the National Association of Colleges & Employers 2009 data…
--Job prospects for the class of 2009 are below those for the previous five graduating classes.
--NACE’s Job Outlook 2009 Quick Poll, conducted in October 2008, found an overall flat job market for this year’s candidates.
--Many sectors are projecting decreases: financial, automotive, real estate/development

Sectors that are showing growth include...
--Government
--Information Technology
--Green Technology & Energy
--Healthcare

What’s going on around campus?
--Across the University of Michigan, on-campus recruiting activity has reflected a small decline (down 5-7%) for most colleges and schools. 
--SI’s on-campus recruiting activities are indicating the same decline (down slightly from 2007-08 academic year).  Positive news is that off-campus recruiting remains about the same.  The number of overall job postings in iTrack have not declined thus far.  Although there have been less Michigan-based postings.

But... There's good news for SI graduates and job seekers...

*US News and World Report released their pick for the Best Careers in 2009. Selection was based on criteria such as job outlook, average job satisfaction, difficulty of the required training, prestige and pay: Library Information Scientist AND Usability/User Experience Specialist
*Of the 106 MSI graduates in April 2008 and August 2008, 61% have reported their job outcomes so far (this percentage is in alignment with numbers from last year).
*2008 MSIs are reporting high levels of job satisfaction (Overall, 91%  satisfied to extremely satisfied -- 61% reported extremely satisfied -- 30% satisfied -- 9% somewhat dissatisfied -- 0 extremely dissatisfied)

2008 MSIs reporting professional jobs:
6% continuing education
93% in professional positions
2 reported non-professional positions

Things to Be Aware Of...
--Average job search length is taking longer- 4-5 months (over the past 5 years the average job search length reported was 3-4 months).
--Average starting salaries look about the same as in 2007-08.

Job Search Tips & Advice
--Do something for your job search every day, but don’t let it consume you
--Let everyone know you’re looking for a job (and be sure they know what you’re looking for, aka your pitch)
--Job search activities should be 20% looking at websites for job postings and 80% reaching out to people/networking/informational interviews network early AND creatively!
--Be flexible with job expectations
--Be flexible with geographic preferences
--Have a back-up plan: be prepared to accept a position that could lead to your dream job (if your dream job is not available).
--Highlight transferable skills
--Consider industries that are more stable and may even be growing– government, healthcare and professional services firms.
--People pay a lot of lip service to the concepts of networking and the hidden job market, but now is the time to really pay attention to these career services buzz words! If you are unsure who is in your network and how they can potentially help you, do some research. If you want to expand your network, be proactive and use every opportunity to connect to people in your professions of interest. Networking can go far in helping you secure employment and contribute to your professional development.
--Pursue a more unconventional job search path:
*Hot recruiting trend (and more economical) for many companies means hiring for contract-to-hire positions
*Many companies partner with reputable, professional staffing/recruitment firms to help identify qualified candidates
--Figure out how your skill sets can transfer into growing industries such as healthcare and green technology. Pursue positions in these areas and always have a plan B or C if your dream job doesn’t materialize.
--Follow the money! The Federal Government is spending $789 billion. It would appear that transportation, energy, technology, and healthcare (Medicaid) are some of the areas the money will go.
--Network, network, network, and never stop networking even after you've gotten a job
--Now, more than ever, a well written resume is critical. Your resume must clearly and concisely communicate your accomplishments, skills and talents.
--Both the content and design must advertise and market your outstanding capabilities. One mispelled word or grammatical error will land your resume in an employers trash can.
--Thoughtful AND strategic networking: take the time to consider how the people you know (and who think highly of you) can help you in your job search.
--Think outside of the box. This is a great time to capitalize on one-year fellowships and short-term contract positions. These offer the opportunity to apply skills, develop professional networks, and position yourself for full-time opportunities as they arise.
--Diversify and think creatively by trying new job search techniques. You may need to consider Plan B or Plan C industries or geographic locations. Too often job seekers get sucked into online job board vortex, applying endlessly to posted openings. This is easy to do because it makes you feel like you've accomplished something measurable. However, it may not be the most effective use of all your energy.
--In a tight market, or when targeting a specialized field, networking is your most effective search tool. Finding people connected to posted jobs and finding people with jobs that are never posted will greatly increases your success rate. Devise a plan so you set networking goals (____ number of connections each week) then track and measure weekly progress. In the long-run, it will be time well-spent.
--Use unconventional resources to gain an "in" or to get a contact to an organization - and make a great impression, i.e. if you a reading an article in one of your favorite trade publications and someone from an organization in which you are interested is quoted, send an email or letter by post or LinkedIn message to the person responding to their quote and asking to set up a informational interview about their career. This can lead to insider information about potential positions, the application process, and a possible interview or job.
--Network early and often.  Expand the way that you are thinking.  Emphasize transferable skills, regardless of specialization:
 
1. Communication skills
2. Strong work ethic
3. Teamwork skills (works well with others)
4. Initiative
5. Analytical skills
6. Computer/Technical skills
7. Flexibility/adaptability
8. Interpersonal skills (relates well to others)
9. Problem-solving skills

And..What should you be doing now?
1. Most effective job search methods/resources reported by MSIs:
2. Networking- 85% indicate that networking directly led to job offer!
3. Company websites
4. Listservs
5. Job Posting Sites (field/industry specific– including iTrack!)

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
If something isn’t working, it’s time to step back, re-assess your plan, and adjust your job search strategy.

Posted by kkowatch at March 5, 2009 03:53 PM

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