Now is an excellent time to learn valuable new skills, refresh existing ones, and focus on career-centric soft skills that enhance your hireability

jobs report - job-seekers

News today from the Labor Department bodes well for job seekers at all levels of experience. The unemployment rate is falling, wages are increasing, and yet there is still a strong sense of demand, as employers continue to struggle to fill roles within their organizations.

A “seller’s market” for job-seekers

For those seeking new employment opportunities, it’s a seller’s market, making this an ideal time to get very strategic about your career plans.

An additional positive to the jobs report is that opportunities are broad-based—jobs are being added across many different industries. The healthcare, construction, manufacturing, and retail sectors all added significant numbers of new jobs.

In the article on the report from The Wall Street Journal this morning, the authors highlighted a particularly significant data point:

“One factor holding wage gains in check is the ability of employers in the past year to bring Americans who have been out of the labor market back into the workforce and dissuade existing employees from retiring or otherwise exiting.”

This clearly indicates that not only is the advantage with job-seekers, this advantage extends to a wide spectrum, including older workers who may be looking to reskill in order to reenter the workforce, or execute career changes.

Employer trends to watch for

Looking ahead, we can expect employers to continue taking steps to attract workers. The Wall Street Journal article discusses the trend towards offering increased flexibility. At Udacity, we see additional trends such as employers being more open to more diverse backgrounds, educational paths, and qualifications.

In the course of our research in advance of launching our new Data Scientist Nanodegree program, we saw clear evidence that employers are far more open to bringing on entry-level employees, and those with comparably less career experience. Numbers from Glassdoor point up that brand-new data scientists only make 40K less than those with 15+ years of experience.

An article from The New York Times this morning underscores the importance of job-seekers being proactive in this environment. The article quotes Torsten Slok, chief international economist at Deutsche Bank:

While job switchers are being rewarded with raises, people who stay where they are are not. Nearly 15 percent of what he calls “job stayers” saw no increase in wages in the past 12 months. At comparable periods in past economic cycles, that share was more like 10 percent.

“If you just stay around, you have less bargaining power,” Mr. Slok said.

Takeaways

The overwhelming takeaway from today’s news is that now is an excellent time to learn valuable new skills, refresh existing ones, and, perhaps most importantly of all, to give priority to those soft skills that can often make the difference in determining who ultimately gets hired.

Building up a robust work portfolio, and optimizing professional brand components such as LinkedIn and GitHub, are critical steps, as are making certain your resume and cover letters are in top shape. Prioritizing engagement with your professional network is also of paramount importance—employers need to be proactive and creative about how they find new candidates, and networks are a valuable resource for new talent leads.

You can find the full report from the Labor Department here. Give it a read, and then start taking strategic steps to make the most of the available opportunities!