Recruitment in the US increased in February – and the unemployment rate fell slightly – but not all workers benefited from the higher-than-expected job growth. The unemployment rate is still significantly higher than it was in February 2020, before the Covid-19 pandemic began.
And some workers are no longer considered unemployed.
“More than 4 million people have left the labor force in the same period,” said Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, in a March 5 White House report.
The majority of those who have left the workforce entirely are women. According to the government, around 2.3 million women are no longer involved in the US workforce.
However, many women who are unemployed or who have left the workforce want to go back to work – and also want advice on hiring. We spoke to six career experts to get answers to some common questions.
Q: I feel like I have exhausted every employment website with no luck. What should I do to check my résumé?
ON: When you know the right people, your resume can land in the right hands. “Having an in-house referrer for a job is one of the best ways to break the crowd and get noticed,” said Jack Kelly, founder and CEO of The Compliance Search Group and Wecruiter.
Before you upload your resume to an employment website, application tracking system, or online portal, do the following:
- Select five to 10 organizations where you really want to work.
- Mine your network to connect with hiring managers and potential employees in these locations.
- Talk to hiring managers and current employees to learn more about what they are doing and express your interest in the job posting.
“Don’t contact HR, they just turn you back on the application process. Contact the department you want to work in,” said career expert Caroline Ceniza-Levine. “Yes, it’s easier to apply for lots and lots of jobs and feel like you’re busy.
“But … you’re trying to differentiate yourself,” she added.
Q: With job sites on your profile pages or on LinkedIn, what should you do to differentiate yourself from others?
ON: Your social media presence reflects your brand 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Before you look at your resume, “employers go to Google and go to LinkedIn first,” said Jackie Mitchell of Jackie Mitchell Career Consulting. “You can’t be serious about wanting to improve your career or find a job if you don’t have a LinkedIn profile.”
To create or update it, do the following:
- Highlight your professional brand. Make sure you have a recent photo that shows exactly how you want to be seen and what your brand represents.
- Be personable. In the “About” section, you are the storyteller. Personally describe your career path and what future opportunities you are looking for.
- Describe measurable results and highlight specific skills. Include your problem solving and relevant skills. Use keywords from previous job descriptions and current job openings.
Olivia Jaras, founder of Salary Coaching for Women, said if you think your profile is ready, ask yourself, “Does it really show you as the inevitable solution, the inevitable answer to your dream opportunity? Or is it out of date?”
To get a new perspective, “ask a student to look at your profile and see if they can describe what you are doing,” said Ceniza-Levine. “What you are offering should be obvious.”
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Also, ask some of the people in your professional network to validate your skills, said Minda Harts, author of The Memo: What Women With Color Need To Know To Secure A Seat At The Table.
“A lot of people have profiles, but not as many candidates as you think have taken the time to create a profile that will highlight their careers,” she said.
Q: What advice do you have for those who are no longer busy and now think they want to get back out there?
ON: Even if you’ve been unemployed for a while, don’t forget the fact that you were probably still working – looking after children or relatives at home, or volunteering. For a hiring manager, you might have skills that translate well into a future job opportunity.
- Talk to people in the industry. Talk to people in your industry to understand what the job market is like in order to meet your expectations.
- Volunteers, take online courses. “Take an online course for the skills you lack or volunteer at an organization where you have the opportunity to apply those skills on the job,” said Maria Reitan, founder and head coach, Jump Team Coaching . “This also works for skills that are out of date.” Fundraising, for example, can be a great way to meet people, develop critical pitching skills, and really help organizations in need, said Ceniza-Levine.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t currently have skills for the job you want, make sure you include the education, training, or volunteering that you do to include those skills in your profile.
- Be prepared with your pitch. How would you describe who you are, what you can do, and why you are beneficial to this organization? Your pitch should be a 30 second (maybe 1 minute) short, short story about who you are, what you’ve done in your last few jobs (including unpaid work), and notable accomplishments, Kelly said.
Q: Finding a job can be daunting. How can you stay optimistic during the process?
ON: It is almost impossible to remain optimistic in the midst of significant challenges if you don’t have a positive attitude. To get your opinion right, career experts say the following:
- Know your worth. “If you think that your dream job is not worth it, neither will the employer,” said Jaras. Find out what your dream job looks like and what would have to happen in order to position yourself in such a way that the employer sees that you are the ideal candidate for the job.
- Remember your “why”. Why do you need or want this job? What is the end goal? The job search is a job in itself. But it’s temporary. It’s a means to an end. “Think of all the reasons you want to get a job, why you want to get this dream job that is bigger than the job itself,” Reitan said. “Put a sticky note on your bathroom mirror that calls you every morning with your ‘why’.”
- Take the time to care for yourself. Maintain a daily routine to stay focused and have a semblance of normalcy. Your job search is your current “job,” but remember to practice self-care as well. “Find hobbies and activities that can help you relax and take your mind off the job hunt,” said Kelly. “You can read, do a little yoga, do push-ups, sit-ups, jog in place, walk around the block, or whatever activity you like.”
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.