Looking for work in 2019? Things may be different than the last time you searched.

Last month we released our definitive guide to the science of the job search, which offered a comprehensive analysis about the job search landscape in 2018. With a wealth of information and data to help you put your best foot forward in terms of your job search, we also recognize that no two years (or job searches) are alike which brings us to…

Surprise! This year is different

There are tons of variables when searching for a new job — individual requirements, experience level, age, application processes, the list goes on. What may have been a straightforward process in the past is now full of nuances and surprises. What’s more is the increasing feeling that searching for a job is a part-time job in and of itself. While we like to think our research gives us a good idea of what to expect, we wanted to talk to the people who are going through the process right now to find out, more specifically, what’s different this time around. What makes 2019 different?

This time last year I was overconfident and a bit egotistical about my job search. I took a semi-passive approach – assuming they would contact me. However after a few months I realized my resume needed work, my cover letter (if I even had one) needed updating, and I needed to keep my resume updated as often as I update my Facebook status…

— Patrick D., Sales Manager

To put it simply: Even if you’ve done this before, don’t expect the search to be the same.

More jobs are available

Despite some challenges in the market, the fact is there’s a pretty significant increase in jobs available now than in previous years — over 200% in certain industries. The folks we surveyed reported wide-ranging observations of the increase of job availability specific to their situation — with job seekers increasing their experience and different fields growing, there are an influx of jobs available; there are even more options for both employees and employers, making for a difficult decision making process.

Survey says…

We talked to folks in all different stages of their careers, from recent college graduates to seasoned professionals. It’s only a few weeks into the New Year, but some common themes emerged. To start, 60% of people starting the job search in 2019 are still employed. We know from experience that people who showed they were currently employed (even if creatively) saw a +149% hireability boost.

More does not necessarily equate to an easier search —

“There are more jobs available, but the market is more competitive in the new city I’ve relocated to.”

— Travis S., Content Creator

60% also expect their current search to take longer than previous search. Why do people expect this search to take longer than previous ones? Well, for starters, 23% of that 60% have already been at it for a long time. In some cases, responders reported having been in full-fledged job search mode for 7-8 months. One user even stated they have been at it since November 2017.

We know people are looking, but what exactly do they want?

A whopping 70% are looking because they want a higher salary.

“In the last 10 years, total compensation for 90th percentile income earners went up by 26% compared to a 21% increase for 10th percentile income earners — but the real gap was in benefits, where the value of benefits for 90th percentile earners went up 37% compared to a mere 15% increase for 10th percentile earners.”

— The 2019 Job Search Landscape

It’s not surprising a higher salary is at the forefront of many job searches. As experience is gained, worth increases. Not to mention the cost of living is skyrocketing across the United States. The statistic above may not sound promising, but there are some things we can recommend.

What should job seekers expect?

The general blueprint of a job search is more or less predictable — from polishing your resumé and crafting the perfect cover letter, to filling out as many applications as you can (which we aim to streamline to save you time for the other surprises), to preparing for an interview and waiting, for what seems like an eternity, for a callback…

That doesn’t mean the 2019 search will be the same as years prior, though. over 90 % of our survey respondents said the job search feels inexplicably different this time around. But why?

Search criteria has changed

Gone are the days of staying in the same career from graduation to retirement. The minimum amount of time necessary to “build” one’s resume at a particular job are decreasing. Interests, requirements, and general life circumstances all contribute to the changing climate of the search.

“I will finish my Bachelor’s in a few months and am looking for a career in my chosen field rather than part-time work I have looked for in the past.”

— PJ D., Software Engineer

Entry-level jobs require more experience

How in the world are you supposed to build your resumé if your first career in the job force requires 3+ years of experience? We tackled this subject last Spring, but the experience paradox is still weighing on people’s minds. “[It seems] more and more entry-level positions are requiring professional experience in my field.” One TalentWorks user indicated the perils of not being able to start their search in a new career field because they were not qualified to even begin the application process until they completed the necessary certifications.

What can you do about this?

  • Apply for Jobs Within ±2 Years of Your Experience — You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. From what we see, if you’re within ±2 years of required experience, hiring managers will often consider you “close enough.”
  • Use Freelance Jobs To Build Your Experience —Not only will you get paid, you’ll also have far higher chances getting your second job (everyone else’s first job).

Full details: 61% of “Entry-Level” Jobs Require 3+ Years of Experience

The application process is different, and so are employer expectations

Respondents reported companies wanting more for less (in addition to experience), such as more skills for less pay. That’s clearly not ideal — you deserve what you’re worth! Moreover, the application process can feel like one giant black-hole. Everything is automated and there’s no opportunity for personal touch, which can feel pretty discouraging.

With an influx of recruiters, the same positions are being submitted over and over again. The result? Companies are overwhelmed with the same applicants being submitted by different recruiters and agencies.

Want to cheat the system? Our AI-driven system saves you time, energy, and ensures you’re getting out a record number of applications. We even optimize the time and day of your application so it doesn’t fall into the blackhole.

Changing expectations

We know, it’s easier said than done. While we have a wealth of data available about the specifics of the job search, there’s a very human element that cannot be distilled in a set of numbers.

As people move through their career, pursue further education, explore the world of entrepreneurship, and experience the unpredictability of life in general, expectations for a new job can change, and may need to change due to life circumstances.

“For better or for worse, I’m focused on a few narrow, but related fields, rather than general fields.”

— Tracy B., Operations Leader

“I don’t know where I fit. I have loads of specialist skills. I’ve had similar jobs to what I’m looking for, but interviews demand much more and things change so quickly in my field…” 

— Amanda L., Digital Content

Expectations from employers are moving targets that can take anyone by surprise, but don’t let the fluidity knock you out of your element. Be humble; remain confident.

Take the surprise in stride

Even when you think you might know, you might not really know…surprises in the job search don’t have to mean completely recalibrating everything you once felt comfortable with in the search. It does mean, though, utilizing different tools to help you be successful, and staying positive — no matter what variables are present in the current job search climate.

Not prepared to go at it alone? We’ve got your back. Let us take care of the most consuming parts of the job search for you.

Outside sources:

Stagnant Wages and How to Negotiate from the Start

Picture this: You just received a job offer after months of searching. It’s now time to discuss salary. The initial offer is tempting, in fact, it’s 10% higher than what the recruiter offered during the preliminary screening. You take it. Months later your landlord hikes your rent. What was to be meaningful financial progress did not get you ahead at all.

That’s the reality many workers are facing. A recent Pew Research Study suggests that today’s wages have the same purchasing power as they did in 1974, especially for lower wage workers. Despite low unemployment and higher paychecks (adjusted for inflation) we’re just not financially progressing.

pewresearchcenter

It certainly seems bleak but you have control regarding your income. What can you do as a jobseeker to ensure your personal financial progression? 

“That’s a good place to start”

If you’re being lowballed in a salary negotiation, don’t be afraid to literally say “That’s a good place to start”. Hiring managers have wiggle-room and expect to use it if you plead your case. This initial offer does not anchor you to a set amount, so understand what the responsibilities are worth and where you need to be financially to re-anchor, so-to-speak.

Understand your buying power.

What do you need financially and what can you do about it? Firstly, understand your regional labor market. Wages vary depending on where you live; do your research before you go into negotiation. It stands that you should be making a reasonable salary per your city. An administrative assistant in the Bay Area should make more than one working in Cincinnati.

At Talent Works we’ve found that going back to school or earning additional accreditations actually improves your professional acumen by +21.9%. If going back to school isn’t possible, check-out what skills/online courses you can take to give you the edge over competition.

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Negotiation makes a difference. Need help? We’re the Jiminy Cricket to your job search.

For $10/month we can automatically find the best jobs and pre-fill job applications for you based on your desired role, location and years of experience. In addition, you’ll get our Interview Guarantee — if we can’t get you an interview within 60 days, we’ll refund everything back to you, guaranteed. (90% of job-seekers using TalentWorks get an interview in 60 days or less).

Yay-You Got a Job Offer! Now What?

You finally got the call. Maybe it’s an offer for your dream job, or maybe it’s for a job you’re less than excited about. Either way, you’ve got a big decision to make. Hopefully, you have at least a few irons in the fire—meaning you’ve been interviewing with other companies. When it comes to the job hunt, you want to have as many options as possible. Job offers can fall through for various reasons.

Early in my career, I’d accept job offers the moment they were offered to me. I was afraid they’d be offended and pull the offer if I said I wanted to think about it. And they just might. Some employers get pretty huffy when you don’t accept right away. But, for me, that sends up a huge red flag, and I’ve worked in enough not-so-great situations to pay attention. If they’re being this rigid now, what will they be like when I start working for them? Plus, why would they want you to make a rash decision? It’s better for both parties when you’ve had a chance to think everything through.

So, now that I’m older and wiser, here’s what I do when I get a job offer:

I let them know I’m grateful for the offer and that I’d like some time to think it over. Asking to think over an offer is not an unreasonable request, regardless of how an employer reacts. They will do what’s in their best interest, so you need to do what’s best for you. The length of time I ask for depends on the situation. If I’m more interested in other jobs I’ve interviewed for or I’ve received another offer, I ask for as much time as possible—but never more than a week. Most employers I’ve dealt with are at least willing to give me a couple days.

I contact other employers I’ve interviewed with and let them know I have an offer. Like I said, options are good. I don’t want to be asking myself what if or feel like I’ve been too hasty in accepting an offer. Seeing if there’s any other interest helps me feel like I’ve explored every possibility. If nobody else is interested, that makes my decision easier. But sometimes I do have other interest, which makes things a wee bit more complicated.

I ask for the offer in writing, information on benefits, and a copy of the employee handbook. A written offer doesn’t mean the job is a guarantee. But it does allow you to see all of the terms in writing, so there are no misunderstandings. I always ask for benefits information, so I can compare it with competing offers (if any) or just make the most informed decision possible. I also request the employee handbook, if the company has one. This can actually tell me a lot about the company culture. Are there a gazillion rules that remind me of grade school? If so, I’ll pass. Does it talk to me like I’m an adult who deserves the benefit of the doubt? That’s a definite plus.

I think about what is most important to me in a role and negotiate based on that. You can ask for the stars and the moon, but that doesn’t always mean you should. Remember salary is just part of the package, and it’s not the only thing you can negotiate. It’s good to do some research on what other people in your role are being paid, particularly in your area. Payscale.com is a great site for this. Salary isn’t the most important factor for me—although it’s important to me that I’m being paid what I’m worth. Let’s say I get two offers for jobs that interest me equally—Offer A and Offer B.

Offer A: Pays 50% medical insurance and gives 10 days of PTO. No remote work allowed.

Offer B: Offers 5k less than Offer A. Pays 100% of medical insurance and gives 20 days of PTO. Allows me to work remotely 1-2 days a week.

Work-life balance matters a lot to me, so I’d actually take Offer B. Those insurance premiums can add up, and the extra two weeks off makes a huge difference. Plus, I don’t have to deal with commuting every day of the week (yay for less stress), which will help me save on gas.

Would I still try and get Offer B to come up on salary? Sure. I’d ask if they could match Offer A. And sometimes, I get a nice surprise and they do! But sometimes they simply can’t or won’t go any higher. At that point, I try to negotiate other perks, such as more PTO or remote days (if they don’t offer them). The worst they can do is say no. Well, I guess the worst they can do is rescind the offer, but—frankly—I wouldn’t want to work for an employer who responded that way to reasonable requests. And that’s the key. Keep it reasonable. Don’t ask for 100k when the market rate for your role is 50k. Don’t ask for paid summers off, a new car, and a trip to Hawaii. Use common sense and be ready to tell them why they should pay you more.

I ask any final questions I have. Now is the time to ask anything else you’d like to know. After all, this is a big decision. When I’m debating between job offers, these final questions will often swing me one way or another.

Remember—you need to look out for you. Know your worth and stand by it. Ask the questions you need to, and take heed if an employer refuses to answer them. If you’re feeling anxious or uneasy about an offer, trust your gut. It’s easy to shove those feelings away, because you want and need an opportunity to work. I’ve totally been there. But I can’t say ignoring my instincts has ever worked for me. On the other hand, a job that fills you with excitement and anticipation is worth checking out, even if it’s not perfect. I dare you to show me a job that is!

How do you handle job offers? Share your story below!