Looking for a job? Build your network!

By Michael Larkins, President and Chief Executive Officer

We continue to see job creation occurring at a more consistent pace as our economy begins to emerge from a prolonged period of malaise and stagnation.   Though not as robust and inclusive as we would all like to see, companies are adding back talent to fuel the next economic surge.  Friday’s job report from the Department of Labor was surprisingly encouraging  with over 240k jobs created in January; this on the heels of over 200k jobs created in December.   But is it all real, or just an anomaly?

The staffing industry is up approximately 26% year-over-year, mainly influenced by the reality that while the health of the economy is improving, companies are not inclined to make a permanent investment and want to keep their costs flexible in the short term.  An increasing demand for sales positions, contract recruiting opportunities, social media marketing, human resources administrators and technical positions related to research and development are very encouraging indicators that companies are beginning to feel more confident investing in people again.  But with over 24mm people “unemployed” or “underemployed” we need to see a prolonged period of similar jobs growth before anyone is willing to feel confident.   The headwinds are significant as companies evaluate economic risks related to the European Union and the health care reform; not to mention the fact that we are in an election year which makes political wrangling quite possibly the biggest obstacle for job creation.

However, with all that being said, we are seeing the best job market since 2008-2009 in terms of opportunities.  As I speak to recent college graduates who are entering the workforce for the first time or Veterans who are preparing to enter the private sector, my messaging really focuses on two key cornerstones to begin their career search: Become Social Media savvy and educated on personal branding; and build your network!   It is surprising how many job seekers are not aware of all the resources available that can empower their job search.  Much like companies who are innovative in their product design or service solution, job seekers will also benefit by being innovative in how they market and brand themselves to stand out in what will continue to be a competitive job market.  Whether you are a job seeker who is unemployed, or someone  who is underemployed looking for a more suitable opportunity, push “refresh” on your public branding. Companies are aggressively seeking out top talent, but does your personal brand truly capture and reflect your skills, ability and success?