Today's economy can be tough to navigate, particularly if you're unemployed and engaged in a job hunt. In January, hiring across the nation slowed dramatically after several encouraging months in 2013. Economists place some of the blame for the slowdown on the US's unusually severe winter. They're probably right: after all, the severe weather had a significant impact on other aspects of the American economy, certainly causing a knock-on effect.
Overall, hiring is down, and regardless of the reasons why, it's important to ensure your talents positively shine on every application you send. Competition is tougher, and consequently, you need to stand out from the crowd. If, like many other individuals engaged in the job hunt, you frequently wonder how best to present yourself at interviews or on a job application, read on.
Thankfully, unemployment is on the decline; however, it's not yet back to pre-recession levels. According to a recent analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 2.6 unemployed people per job in the US in December 2013. National unemployment currently stands at 6.6 percent. Before the recession began in December 2007, unemployment stood at 5 percent, meaning there were 1.8 people per available job. At the height of the recession, more than 9.8 percent of the American populace found itself unemployed, a total of 6.2 people for every job opening.
Of course, those figures are based on the number of jobseekers actively involved in the job hunt. The BLS also keeps track of another statistic, known as the "real" unemployment rate. This second figure takes into account individuals marginally attached to the workforce, as well as people who are underemployed. When those numbers are added to one another, the real unemployment rate for December emerges: 12.7 percent.
Thankfully, you don't have to be wildly original or eccentric to stand out. What you do need, however, is a solid set of communication skills. Few people effectively engage and communicate with prospective employers: consequently, honing this ability gains you the advantage at every stage of the recruitment process. Keeping that in mind, here are some important job hunt tips:
- Always include a cover letter with your application; recruiters often prefer to read letters before examining resumes. Make sure you proofread your letter for accuracy, spelling, and grammar before sending it off.
- Try to find out the name of the person in charge of recruitment at the company you're applying at so that you can address your letter personally. Often, jobseekers send letters marked, "Dear Sir/Ma'am"; however, it can be advantageous to get personal.
- Create job-specific resumes and cover letters rather than resorting to generic job hunt copy. Mention the company name at least twice in your letter to ensure the recruiter knows you're keen.
- Get enthusiastic about the prospect of being employed—don't remain bland. If you can, include a short personal anecdote to underscore your genuine interest in the field, career, or job for which you're applying.
- If you send an electronic application or an email, link to your profile on an appropriate business site like LinkedIn. Many companies examine applicants' online activities and take note of endorsements and references.
If you are asked to attend an interview but don't get the job, try to obtain feedback from the interview team so that you can use it to your advantage. Don't give up: keep applying and use any rejection as an opportunity for growth. If you can hone your application technique and interview skills while the job hunt is tough, you may increase your chances of getting hired. If you don’t get hired, you'll emerge ahead of the pack and stand out from the crowd when spring finally arrives.
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