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Why the Job Numbers Don’t Matter

We are getting used to the job numbers being incrementally better each month. But from a jobseeker’s perspective, it simply isn’t moving fast enough. The truth is, the job numbers, better or worse, don’t matter.

Heidi Shierholz, using Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data, announced this week that, at our current rate of job growth, it will be 2020 before we recover to a “normal” unemployment rate. The CBO defines the normal unemployment rate to be 5.2%. According to Ms. Shierholz, if we can add 225,000 jobs per month, then the recovery could be as early as 2018. In June, 195,000 jobs were added according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Recoveryby2020 2018 at the earliest? Really? Personally, that sounds devastating to me.

Most jobseekers I know are clamoring for a job now . The long-term unemployed are frustrated and exasperated. Many are empty—they have no hope at all. If you are a jobseeker, I encourage you to be hopeful and I tell you that these numbers don’t matter.

One year ago, this week, the news indicated that we needed 150,000 jobs per month to keep up with population growth, and 360,000 jobs per month to recover in three years. Today, as the gurus read their tea leaves, 2020 is the more likely answer to the question, “How long will it take?”

If you are a job seeker, it may feel like everything is at a standstill. We hear that, “June and July are slow months. Nothing happens in June or July. There’s no reason to keep up with the job search because it’s June and July.”

Does hiring stop in the summer?
True: in the summer months children are home from school, families go on vacation, schedules change, and people are away from work. But that doesn’t mean that hiring stops.

Hiring continues. However the time frame is stretched out. It takes longer to schedule interviews, negotiate contracts, and get approvals. Again, hiring doesn’t stop.

Proof: Eight successes in June!
In the month of June, six of my clients have been hired, another waits on a promised offer, and one more is currently negotiating a contract.

Who got called for interviews?
The areas of expertise for the list of clients, I mentioned above, include viral biology, business finance, non-profit fundraising, public school teacher, social media marketing, video production, media recording and production, piano and organ performance, and manufacturing.

FlowerOnSidewalk Why did these people get contracts?
These people are getting ready to go back to work because they painstakingly set their goal to learn the skills needed to land a job. These were different skills than they needed to do their jobs. They learned how to submit stellar, customized cover letters and résumés through a disciplined, strategic approach. They did the appropriate follow-up and follow-through. They managed their daily negativity, and their disappointments, and didn’t let the lack of activity sway them from turning in carefully crafted résumés and cover letters. When they were frustrated, angry, and fed up—they didn’t give up.

They are preparing to go back to work because, in addition to everything the people in the paragraph above learned, these people managed their emotions through the excruciating delays in the interviewing and hiring process. One client was at his wits end when, after he had given notice and completed the last day at his “transitional job”, he was notified that his start-date had been moved two weeks later. ARG!!!!!!!!

All these people have made mistakes along the way. All of them have faced despair and exhaustion. All have been angry; all have wept, and all were understandably impatient. But they didn’t give up.

They got back up, they learned new lessons, they tried again. It got easier. They sought out areas where they needed to develop new job-seeking skills and they kept learning and applying their new knowledge.

Every time they came to a chasm that seemed impossible, they found a way to cross it. They learned hard lessons and polished newly identified skills. When a deep ravine threatened their forward progress, they built a bridge and crossed over. It’s all about strategy, evaluation, learning and moving forward.

This 3-minute video demonstrates the point perfectly.


Why don’t the job numbers matter:

It doesn’t matter because there ARE jobs. There may not be many, but there ARE jobs. The job numbers would only matter if there were no jobs at all and that is not the case.

Here’s my point:

The fewer the jobs, the better the strategy you will need to get one.

It’s about strategy and learning. Recent grads face 54% unemployment. That means they have to out-strategize half of their competition to get one of the available jobs.

The 4 most-critical questions:
  1. Have you mastered the skills needed to get a job? A job-search strategy is one of them.
  2. Which skills do you need to learn?
  3. Which need polishing?
  4. What is your plan to learn them?
Again, the fewer the jobs, the better the strategy has to be. Every job-seeker needs a plan for a dynamic (changeable) and flexible strategy.

Other important considerations:
Recent research shows that every working person in the U.S. will change jobs at least every four years—regardless of their age. That means that 25% of the labor force will be in some kind of transition at any given time. CareerCast indicates that,
“You will change jobs (not always by choice) about every four years, and you will probably have three or more distinct careers over the span of your professional life.”
Therefore: Learn these skills now and keep them sharp! You are going to need them. Don’t get caught again. Begin your next job search early. Keep your network strong and knowledgeable about your employment situation.

Finally, there’s a lot you can’t control. However, there are some elements of your job search that are completely up to you:
  • You can control your reactions to the situation and that’s critical.
  • You can control the negativity that surrounds you.
  • You can control your goal setting, your workday, your weekly schedule and achievements.
  • You can protect your dignity and the dignity of those around you.
Believe it or not, this is a critical part of the job search. Jobseekers who excel here get through this difficulty sooner and in better shape.

ChessPiecesOnBoard

How to evaluate your job search strategy:

Cover letters and résumés should bring phone calls:
If your cover letters and résumés bring interviews for jobs that are a good fit, then they are doing their job. If that isn’t happening, there’s something wrong.

If you are qualified for the position, and you know how to get through the online systems, then your cover letter and résumé should get at least a phone screening. If a contact forwards your cover and résumé to a hiring professional, you should definitely get a phone call.

If you aren’t qualified for the job, then that’s the next step. Either get the qualifications you need or apply for a different position.

Interviews should bring job offers?
If you are getting interviews and no offers, revisit your interview strategy and interview skills. Are you making it through the initial screening? Are you getting through the HR or recruiter phases? Are you speaking to hiring managers? These are the steps. When you get stuck, identify the problem and strategize a solution.

Do you need help with any of this? Then I invite you to consider the Forward Motion Differentiation Workshop. That’s what it’s all about.

Planning for your future.
  • Learn jobsearch skills now and keep them sharp! You are going to need them.
  • Begin your next job search early. Don’t get caught again.
  • Keep your network strong and knowledgeable about your employment situation. Avoid “network abuse”. Remember that “networking” is the opportunity for two parties to provide mutual benefit. It’s a two-way street.
  • Stay current on your industry trends. Keep your job skills sharp and up-to-date.
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3 Responses to Why the Job Numbers Don’t Matter

  1. Neil Patrick July 13, 2013 at 3:21 PM #

    Congratulations Marcia on another brilliant post ! I too have been tracking the non-farm jobs data as you know. Critically though, you have extrapolated this to the essential action points and take-outs for job seekers. I think what you present here is a vital message for all to understand!

    Keep up your wonderful work.

    Kind regards

    Neil

  2. Andrea Chase July 11, 2013 at 12:11 PM #

    I always enjoy your articles, Marcia. Very informational, insightful, and filled with hope.

    • Marcia LaReau July 15, 2013 at 9:10 AM #

      Andrea, thank you so much for continuing to read and support Forward Motion!