In 2021, the Job Market’s on Your Side — 5 Ways to Take Advantage of It, From a Career Coach

In 2021, the Job Market’s on Your Side — 5 Ways to Take Advantage of It, From a Career Coach

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May 22, 2024 at 12:19PM UTC

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 9.2 million jobs added to the economy in May of 2021. The most noteworthy fact for job seekers and would-be career changers is that there are currently more jobs available than workers available—and willing—to take them.

This economic boom starkly contrasts to July of 2020, when the world was knee-deep in the pandemic. Lay-offs were rampant. Workers, if they were lucky not to lose their jobs, were terrified of making a career change. 

Just one year later, the mood has rapidly shifted from trepidation and fear to excitement and relief as more people get vaccinated and restrictions continue to lift.

However, if you are currently job seeking or considering a career change, is it really a good time to start your job search or make a change? If so, what are the most important factors to consider in this still-recovering economy?

Below are five ways to take advantage of 2021’s stronger job market.

1. Think long-term.

Although it can be challenging to think about your career's big picture, this can help you evaluate your next short-term move. 

If you are moderately happy in your current position—but know that the economy is recovering and with it, there are increased job opportunities—you might be wondering if you should start looking elsewhere for better pay and benefits.

Maybe you've been with your company for several years and your long-term goal is to move into management. In another six months, you’ll be up for a promotion. If you jump ship you might get better benefits and pay elsewhere, but you’ll have to prove yourself all over again. 

If you decide to stay put, it doesn’t mean you can’t browse other opportunities or talk to a recruiter if you get approached on LinkedIn. Since the tide is swiftly moving to the job seeker’s advantage, that means employers will be pressured to offer more attractive benefit packages, professional development and higher pay. This can also motivate companies to try harder to hold onto their current employees. 

Therefore, you can also consider approaching your current boss and ask for a raise, or additional benefits, like working partially from home, or for the opportunity to take continuing education or upskill courses. 

2. Do your due diligence.

If you’re currently job seeking, you might be tempted to jump at the first opportunity that comes your way in fear of the economy taking another nosedive. However, it’s always important to take time to reflect on your values, strengths and passions and make sure they’re aligned with your targeted position and company.

You can start with the company’s website. Their mission and values, along with recent press releases, can offer ample information and help you determine if there’s a cultural fit. 

But don’t just rely on the internet. Talking to people is even more important.

Jump on your LinkedIn profile and see if you have any first or second-degree connections working at your targeted company. Send them a message and ask if they’d be willing to chat with you via Zoom or phone. Your message can read something like:

“Hello {insert name}! From your profile, it looks like you’ve made significant strides in developing xyz products for abc company. I’m in the process of transitioning from ___ field and am targeting a role similar to yours. I would love to chat with you briefly about your experience with the company if you have some time in the coming weeks. Thanks so much for your time!”

Write out around five to seven questions in advance and focus on the company culture. You can even ask about turnover and what your contact likes best and least about the organization to get a realistic view of what working there would be like.

Lastly, read anonymous employee reviews about the company here on Fairygodboss and Glassdoor.

3. Be honest with yourself.

Just because the job market is stronger, this does not mean that an employer is necessarily going to be willing to move mountains to bring you on board. 

Before you apply for a position, take time to closely read (and re-read) the job announcement to see if it’s a job you’re actually willing to take if it’s offered to you, or if you’re just applying to apply.

For example, if the job announcement says remote work is not an option, don’t apply thinking you can accept the offer and then get your manager to change their mind about letting you work from home after you’re hired.

Or let’s say you apply for a position that’s in an expensive area. You notice the salary range is way lower than what you’d need to make to support yourself or your family. You apply anyway thinking you can negotiate up to $10,000 because this is a “job seeker’s market.” 

Save yourself and the recruiter or hiring manager some time and effort by not applying for positions that you don’t really want.

4. Ask the right questions.

Interviews are a two-way street. You are evaluating the company as much as they are evaluating you. In a stronger job market you’ve got more negotiating power, so use it.

At the end of the interview, when you’re asked if you have any questions, come prepared with at least five to seven questions. Here are some examples:

  • What kind of professional development, upskill or continuing education opportunities are available?
  • What’s the culture like?
  • What do you like about working here?
  • Who will I be reporting to and what’s their management style?
  • Are flexible work arrangements offered?
  • Do you have any organization & leadership development programs?

5. Learn how to negotiate.

If you get a job offer, congratulations are in order! But before you celebrate your new job, you’ve got to make sure you secure yourself the best possible salary and benefits package that you can.

Before you engage in a conversation about salary, be sure to do your due diligence and research the salary range for your targeted field and position on sites like Glassdoor and Salary.com. It’s also important to keep in mind the location of your targeted job. If you live in one city but you’re job searching elsewhere, research the salary for your targeted location as the numbers can fluctuate due to the cost of living. 

If there’s not as much room to negotiate the salary, ask about other benefits—stock options, flexible work arrangements, bonuses, vacation time, professional development opportunities and childcare reimbursement. 

In conclusion, with a strong job market, there are many things you can do to improve your work situation, whether at your current job or with a new opportunity at another company.

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This article was written by an FGB contributor.

Lee Cristina Beaser is a career coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and founder of The Career Counter, where she empowers women to achieve happiness and fulfillment in their careers.

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