The good news for people looking for work is that a significant labor shortage continues, and job seekers are gaining leverage as employers, struggling to fill openings, offer extra incentives.
But those positive signs for workers wanting to re-enter the workforce don’t guarantee jobs that are a good fit. An honest self-reassessment is necessary when weighing possibilities in the changing COVID-era job market, says James Webb, a successful entrepreneur in the medical and fitness sectors and author of A Country Boy’s Journey To Prosperity.
“The job market has changed in many ways in terms of what some employers and prospective employees are looking for,” Webb says. “From a job seeker’s perspective, they have to look at what they’ve learned about themselves while not working, whether they’ve undersold themselves in the past, where they need to improve, and if a company’s culture aligns with their new perspective and overall needs.”
As the “Great Resignation” continues to gain steam, with over 4 million workers have quit in September alone, Webb says that it’s difficult for companies “to find the right talent and frustrating to watch talented, smart people sit on the sidelines.” He offers five tips for those wanting to return to the job market and find a position more satisfying than the one they left:
Be bold; don’t get caught up in having specific job experience. “You have to be willing to take risks in order to reap high rewards,” Webb says. His own rags-to-riches story was built on self-confidence, hard work, people skills, and venturing outside his comfort zone in order to challenge himself, learn industries, and grow. “I have met many people who trust in the philosophy that your next move should be the one for which you’re already prepared,” Webb says. “I disagree. I believe in pursuing your desired path regardless of your level of preparation. Be confident in the fact that if you’re smart and focused, you’ll learn faster when you’re in over your head or out of your depth.”
Rely on resilience. Webb says failure (getting fired) or being unsatisfied (quitting) can be constructive, one reason being that both build resilience, which he considers the most important trait in life and business. “A resilient person never considers staying down,” Webb says. “Resilience leads to better things. Resilience isn’t just about getting back up; it’s about learning from your mistakes, digging deep to open yourself up to consider new ways, and finding another path that is better than the previous one.”
Review your experience. “Think about your skills, interests and strengths, and what you value most in a new position and in an employer,” Webb says. “Where are you lacking? Determine which work activities you enjoy most, and what kinds of people you enjoy working with and for. Focus your search on places that would allow you to spread your wings and prosper.”
Emphasize your soft skills. A key differentiator between candidates, Webb says, is the soft skills they offer, such as adaptability, creativity, time management, and communication. “As companies adapt quickly to rapidly-changing consumer demands and business models, they’re hiring people who are able to assimilate and process quickly, learn new skills, and problem-solve,” Webb says.
Build your network. If you’ve been out of work for a year or longer, Webb says it’s vital to tap into and expand your network. “Think about the previous co-workers you’ve had,” he says. “Attend networking events and conferences; connect with industry people on social media. The more people you share information with, the more likely one or more of them will inform you of opportunities or offer to be a reference.”
“Whether your absence from the workplace was self-imposed or a matter of being laid off, getting back into it requires energy, focus, and patience,” Webb says. “Sometimes a reset or a second wind is all we need to be a new and better version of ourselves.”