When Bill Means looks at the employment landscape, particularly in the context of recent college graduates, he does so through the prism of 30 years’ experience.
And these days, he is decidedly upbeat.
“It’s one of the best job markets I have seen,” says Means, Delaware State University’s Career Services director. “The placement rate has gone up steadily since 2013.”
The national statistics support Means’s claim. In October 2018, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, which represents nearly full employment based on U.S. government calculations that take into account the number of people not working voluntarily or transitioning between jobs.
“The economy is strong,” Means says. “Everybody remembers the recession in 2008 and 2009, when jobs were not available for anybody.”
But even though there’s a lot of work out there, job seekers can’t just sit back and wait for a call. They need to be proactive, and their search efforts should appropriately align with the times.
The internet, of course, remains an invaluable job-hunting tool. New listings are posted daily; resumes and other credentials can be sent in seconds. Sites like LinkedIn and Handshake facilitate electronic networking, while apps like Skype and FaceTime permit remote interviews. Social media channels allow applicants to further promote their skills and connect with potential colleagues.
Still, applying solely online is often not enough.
“There is a mindset in which people want to hide behind their computer and hit the ‘apply’ button,” says Jill Gugino Panté, director of the Lerner Career Services Center at the University of Delaware. “But you still have to network. You don’t want to get sucked inside the computer vortex. Networking is so important to get an interview.”
Job searching, Panté recommends, should be 80 percent computer work and 20 percent networking.
There is indeed something to be said for the old-fashioned meet-and-greet, hustle-and-grind nature of networking. It’s a great way to find out more about who is hiring, as well as learn about positions before they’ve been promoted to the general public.
Another tip: Refine your “elevator pitch” so that you can quickly and elegantly deliver it to someone you’ve just met. You never know who could connect you with an employment opportunity.
“Technology has made things easier,” Panté says. “You can send a resume to 50 companies quickly. But there are other things to it. You have to go to events and reach out to people. Recruiters are still looking for a personal touch.”