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4/2/23 - Job seekers are anxious. Here’s how to navigate the daunting job market

Looking for a job can be stressful.


Economists continue to reiterate that we are not in a recession, however, the widespread media coverage of layoffs (especially in the tech industry) has created a culture of fear among American workers and job seekers; a recent survey revealed that 61% of workers are concerned about their job security within the next 12 months. It’s extremely important for Americans to understand how best to navigate the current job market and ensure they are set up for success no matter the circumstances that arise.

We’ve developed six simple tips for workers to keep in mind if they are looking for a job, and help remove the stress from what can be—but doesn’t need to be—a daunting task.

Conduct an internal audit of your own skills in order to determine where your strengths lie. Your areas of expertise will help differentiate you from other workers, so it is important to understand what you are good at and how you can utilize these skills to provide value in the current employment landscape. For instance, in the era of hybrid work, homing in on skills that allow for digital collaboration could be beneficial to organizations.

Additionally, this exercise can help identify any potential skills gaps that you can fill. Many job seekers today are upskilling in order to increase their value within the workforce. In fact, a recent survey found that 67% of American workers are looking to upskill in the current employment market.

While every industry is different, we are seeing more roles requiring hard skills, such as cloud computing, AI, SEO/SEM, and data analysis. On the soft skills front, we are seeing requests for candidates with emotional intelligence, leadership, collaboration, and adaptability.

Many industries have been impacted by economic uncertainties—especially the tech industry, which has seen mass layoffs sector wide. In light of this, it would be wise to do research into which industries are struggling and which industries are growing and consider making a switch.

The BLS monthly jobs report is an excellent resource for Americans to turn to for regular updates on the employment market and the status of various business sectors. The latest report identified that the leisure and hospitality industry had the most growth in January, with the creation of approximately 128,000 jobs. The professional and business services industry came next with approximately 82,000 new roles created, followed by government with 74,000, and healthcare with 58,000 roles.

Understanding the direction of the job market and where career opportunities lie empowers individuals to make informed decisions about whether shifting industries makes sense for them and to determine if, and how, their existing skills can be transferred to a new setting.

Networking is a key part of navigating any job market but when times are tough, it’s extra important to put yourself out there. The good news is that odds are, you already have people in your corner—think previous colleagues and managers—who can be excellent resources to learn from.

Furthermore, take advantage of social networking platforms to connect with those in your current or desired industry and engage with them. Seek out people who have had a similar path to yours, or a path you admire, and ask questions about their career journey. More often than not, you will find that people are surprisingly willing to talk about their experiences. Many professionals got their start through networking and want to pay it forward.

These valuable conversations can guide how you move forward in your career, and you never know where these connections will take you. Perhaps, you will gain a new mentor, friend, or even be pointed in the direction of your next opportunity.

Many individuals don’t think about updating their résumé, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile until they are ready to begin their job search, but in this uncertain employment landscape, it’s important to be proactive. Some have dubbed this “career cushioning.”

Updating recruitment materials before the need arises to look for a new role will minimize the chance of forgetting important information that can make you stand out from other candidates as you will not be in a rush or under stress to complete them. Information, such as recent accomplishments, milestones, and quantitative measurements of success, are key updates to make.

It is important to identify your relevant skills and experiences that align with the current demands of the job market and ensure that these are highlighted throughout your materials. Additionally, with the use of applicant tracking systems (ATS) becoming increasingly prevalent, noting these important skills and any relevant industry keywords can increase your chances of being noticed by organizations and moving on to the next recruitment stage.

Although much of the news we are consuming revolves around layoffs, we are still living in a hot job market in which there are more available jobs than workers to fill them. Bear in mind that the jobs report indicated that there were over 517,000 new roles created last month.

Although the market is still favoring employees, it is important to be vigilant when looking for future opportunities. Set up alerts on recruitment sites so that you are notified when roles that may interest you are posted.

If you have been laid off, you may want to take a look into your financial situation and see if you can afford to extend your job search and explore available career options rather than taking the first offer that comes your way. The constant creation of jobs could mean that your perfect opportunity is coming right around the corner, and it’s ideal to avoid accepting a role that is not the right fit solely because of the paycheck.

We’re living in an era of information overload, and no matter where you turn, career advice is available. Although much of this information can be valuable, it does not always mean it may be of use to your current situation.

For example, we are now seeing lots of advice being given out regarding the use of ChatGPT or AI in recruitment and how it benefits job seekers. Common advice surrounding using these tools involves how easy and fast it is for job seekers to draft personalized recruitment materials. With that said, this advice does not always take into consideration the potential negative effects of these tools.

This is why thinking critically is important. Consider the qualifications of the advice giver and always evaluate if a piece of advice aligns with your personal values and goals. Instead of rushing to put any advice into action, take some time to think things through and ensure that it makes sense for your situation. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion. An objective point of view can be very helpful for evaluating the effectiveness of any advice.

The labor market is constantly evolving, and although its current uncertainty may be intimidating, keeping these six tips in mind can help ensure that workers are effectively navigating the employment landscape.

Robert Boersma is a vice president of operations for