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It’s a Candidate-Driven Job Market - How Can You Take Advantage?

With the low unemployment rates we’re seeing right now and new jobs opening up in several industry sectors, the prospects for job hunters have rarely looked better. It’s a job candidate’s market, with companies competing for talent in an increasingly smaller and limited pool of available candidates. Even for those who are currently employed, there are opportunities a career-driven individual would find worth exploring.

So, how can you take advantage of today's candidate-driven job market? Below are some things to consider first.

1.     With the pool of job seekers shrinking, if you are the right fit for an open position, you may have more power at the negotiating table. You may be able to get a pay hike and better benefits than you have in current or previous jobs and can possibly even command top dollar for that position.

2.     Even if you’re happy in your current position, this may be the optimal time to find a job that’s a more perfect fit and may offer a better salary and more room for advancement.

3.     If you really don't want to entertain the idea of leaving your current job, this may be a good time to ask for a pay increase (if you haven't had one in a while). Do your research first to determine what would be an appropriate salary increase in the context of your position and years of experience. When you bring your request to your boss, remind them of what you have accomplished and brought to the table to benefit the company or organization. Given the current job market, they should be open to discussing your request.

4.     Are you thinking about making a career change? With the job growth and labor shortages occurring in various areas such as healthcare and software development, the time may be now to make your move. Employers who are seeing fewer resumes that meet their qualifications may be more open to someone bringing relevant or transferable skills and experience.

5.     You may not be thinking about any of these things and are fine with staying put in your current job. This makes you a “passive” job candidate. In their quest to find talent, many employers hire recruiters to seek desirable candidates among the already-employed and pluck candidates from the competition. You could potentially be approached with an opportunity you can’t pass up.

Regardless of which situation you find yourself in, you want to be ready to make your move. You can’t assume that none of the rules of job pursuit apply just because it’s a job candidate’s market. Here’s what you need to do:

1.     Make a list of what distinguishes you from others in your position or other possible candidates for the position you seek. This is information that employers will want to know about you, and it’s information you need to assemble for your resume, cover letters and interviews.

2.     Get your resume up to date and up to snuff. You want to position yourself as more than just the best possible candidate - let them see you are the perfect fit. Include the list of qualities that distinguish you, presenting them prominently in the "Career Summary" or section at the top of your resume. Also make sure to mention accomplishments and relevant projects, and have your resume well-aligned with the job description by highlighting the sought-after skills and experience.

3.     Be prepared to put your best foot forward in interviews. How well you interview still matters, and if the employer is deciding between you and another candidate, you want to be the one who shines. Pull out all the stops and ensure you have the right outfit and appearance, a list of questions for the interviewer, and well-prepared answers to their possible questions.

4.     Know your worth. Make sure you do research on the salaries and benefits in your market to determine the average and high range for people in your position or the one you aspire to. You want to be well-informed if you get to the point of discussing salary requirements.

5.     Brush up your negotiating skills. Having done your salary and market research should give you the confidence to ask for what you are worth. The employer may offer you less than the amount you are asking for; but remember that you have an advantage in a candidate-driven job market. Don’t let fear of losing the opportunity stop you from asking for more, as the employer may counter it. Start by asking for the top of the salary range for the position, reminding them of the experience and accomplishments you offer.

With all the opportunities now available for job seekers (and current job-holders) to choose from, there is no better time than the present to find the position or career that will be the most meaningful, enriching and best fit for you. Consider yourself empowered to get your career, as well as your life, to where you want it to be!

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