Up to now, the pace of change in the jobs market could have been outstripped by a glacier.
For years, inefficiencies in the labour market have resulted in millions – circa 850 million, according to McKinsey – of educated but unemployed young people, with many others in jobs they are overqualified for. At the same time, 37% of employers are unable to find the right candidates for their vacancies.
This disconnect has been created by a lack of transparency in the market, and a failure to inform job seekers about currently in-demand skills or trends that are likely to influence the future.
Recruitment is only now beginning to shift in order to close these massive gaps, despite the fact that increasing technological advances have rapidly changed the way we work and will continue to do so.
Power is beginning to shift out of the hands of employers, and into the mitts of the job seeker. But when you’re used to a very tried-and-tested way of applying for jobs, how can you make sure you’re in the best position for this new reality of job hunting?
1. Research to Understand the Market Before Making Education Choices
Recruitment technologies are being transformed by big data, meaning people can analyse trends, better understand the labour market, and inform themselves before making important life decisions. There will no longer be a need to blindly follow traditional education advice or to pick a particular career path. Educational institutions are often 5 – 10 years behind in their knowledge of the market, and can be very slow to adapt to changing trends.
The availability of free online courses means you can now ‘try before you buy’, and test out subjects that sound interesting in order to decide if you really want to invest time in mastering certain skill sets. Indeed, for many people like for example, software developers, traditional third level education is no longer a prerequisite. Enthusiasm and curiosity can count for a lot more than degrees.
2. Get Market Savvy With The New Age of Online Talent Platforms
Data-driven technical innovation was previously impossible. Now, a growing trend towards data utilisation means that the market is becoming increasingly transparent. Platforms like LinkedIn and Jobspotting are helping to match users to jobs and companies that best suit their skills and interests. Sign up to sites that provide proactive recommendations – it’s like having a personal headhunter to match you to jobs that suit you.
3. Don’t Underestimate Your Personal Brand
Make no mistake – future employers will Google you, so make sure they find what you want them to. Be in control of your online presence, and consider using a pseudonym for any online profiles that you want to keep private. Having no online presence is equally bad – it’s often a red flag for employers if you are conspicuously absent from the web.
4. Remember You Have the Power!
You’re dealing with an employee-focused jobs market, and job seekers have never been in a better position. You can and should be picky about potential employers and positions. We spend a massive portion of our lives working, which is key to personal fulfillment. Research companies, ask tough questions, and make sure that the position is for you. Many companies will offer the option to test work to make sure you’re a company fit before committing to a full-time contract.
5. Specialise & Focus on Your Strengths
Companies will often hire people to solve specific problems, so while generalists may be very valuable candidates, they’ll have a lesser chance to stand out from the crowd. Choose something you love, and focus on becoming great at it!
Make up for your weaknesses by becoming even better at something you already rock at. If you only focus on improving your weaknesses, you waste time and opportunity costs instead of becoming an expert in a field you’re already good at.
6. Embrace the Life of the Digital Nomad
You never have to be stuck in a single office ever again. Build your portfolio while you’re working or studying by taking on side gigs that will hone your expertise and give you valuable experience. Students who work at something meaningful during their studies then come to the game with an advantage. Taking on freelance work also schools you in the arts of selling yourself, personal marketing, negotiating with clients, managing your time and workflows, and dealing with customers. These are not only invaluable in the workplace, but for life in general. People who build up strong experience have more flexibility to work where they want, when they want, in any timezone they choose!
As the reality of the job hunt continues to adapt and transform, our methods of finding employment will need to evolve as well. Our world is becoming fully digitised and more globalised, meaning job seekers have to embrace new opportunities and utilise them to their advantage in order to find the right place for themselves in this enormous market. As the job market becomes more transparent and job seekers learn to use the tools placed in front of them, the issue of unemployment for those skilled and educated candidates may slowly begin to subside.