Every month presents the job seeker with new challenges and unique opportunities. To get the best outcomes, you have to know how to assess the market and capitalize on key seasonal trends.
While no two job searches are exactly the same, there’s commonality in what job seekers experience in any given month, and there’s a significant advantage in being prepared for what the month will bring.
If you’re planning to launch or continue a job search in March, here’s what you need to know to land the best possible outcome.
1. It’s going to be unpredictable
Historically, March is a good month for job seekers. The months of January and February which were crowded with candidates and highly competitive are now behind you. Ahead lies the spring hiring season which is fortunately free of the disruptions that will come in the second half of the year, like summer vacations or holidays.
Normally, March would provide you with an opportunity to embark on months of steady progress toward a new job. But this particular spring might bring new conditions to the job market that you need to start thinking about now.
While monthly U.S. hiring figures continue to look strong, global volatility, driven in large part by the impact of coronavirus, is causing many business leaders to brace for a possible economic downturn.
As a job seeker, you find yourself in a unique moment in time. New opportunities are still plentiful, but for how long? With any luck, businesses will quickly return to normal and the job market will keep growing throughout the spring. But it’s still wise to put your most aggressive networking and job search push out this month. Don’t procrastinate any longer, because what lies ahead is hard to predict.
There’s certainly no reason to panic, but if you’ve been thinking about broadening your job search parameters, ending a passive search in favour of a more active one or calling in networking favours you’ve been putting off, this is the time to pull out all the stops.
Don’t get discouraged if you’ve been searching for a long time already and can’t imagine what else you could possibly do. All you need to do is simply stay the course. Try to remain focused and motivated; while this isn’t easy, now is not the time to slow down.
2. Problem solvers are in demand
In January, companies are more likely to open jobs that are completely new to the organization as they launch innovative projects. But by March, the end of Q1 is upon them and they have a fairly good idea where they stand on those goals. Many executives start to evaluate if the team they originally put in place is the right one to get the job done.
Companies that were looking for visionary leaders just a few months ago are now hoping to find a new cohort of fixers. This dynamic creates an opportunity for those job seekers that are able to effectively highlight their problem-solving skills.
Hiring managers and recruiters may not come right out and tell you the specific issues they are experiencing within the company. You’ll instead need to come to interviews ready to ask probing questions such as, “In the next three months, what’s the most important thing this team needs to accomplish?” Listen for answers that highlight something that needs to be fixed. This may be a technical problem that has to be addressed, the need to roll out a new communication strategy after the first one failed or customer relationships that need to be repaired.
No matter what kind of job you are interviewing for, come prepared with examples of when you have turned a difficult relationship or business problem around. Don’t just tell interviewers that you are a problem solver, but show them with the examples you share.
Be sure to highlight the times when the solutions weren’t straightforward or when you had to build stronger relationships before you could even understand the root issue.
If you can show them that you will bring a unique perspective and fresh energy to the team, you are much more likely to become the chosen candidate.
3. You’ll have to be ruthless about vetting opportunities
March should continue to be a decent hiring month, but it’s important to keep assessing economic trends and realigning your job search priorities.
There will be times in your career where you can take a riskier offer, knowing that if it doesn’t pan out you can reenter a booming market and try again. But during tougher times, you’ll need to be more cautious about the jobs you take.
Determining what makes a job feel safe or risky will look different for each person. However, some things to consider are whether you are joining an industry that is always in demand such as healthcare, or one that requires favourable economic times to grow such as travel or retail. What is the financial situation of the company you are considering and do they have the financial resources and culture in place to take care of employees should business slow a little? Finally, assess if you are taking on a job where you’ll be able to quickly prove your value and become indispensable or if instead, the role has a long learning curve which could leave you vulnerable.
You don’t want to take any job solely because you deem it safe, nor should you turn down your dream job out of fear. But you’ll be kicking yourself later if you failed to even consider potential risks that came back to burn you.
In the month of March, the key is to proceed with a mix of urgency and caution. Work hard on your search, but be even more ruthless in vetting potential employers.
Like any life change, a job search requires effort, hope and confidence. The job market this March may be harder than usual to predict, but it can be just as fruitful.
Originally posted by Kourtney Whitehead
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