Should Job Seekers Heed Jobs Data?

Job Seekers Receive Mixed Signals

New claims for unemployment increased at a higher-than-expected rate last week, according to a report out today, which may deflate confidence among job seekers who were starting to regain hope about their employment prospects.   At the same time, however, a separate report showed that the index of leading indicators rose in January for the seventh consecutive month, signaling a continuation of the expansion into 2011.  So, which report is correct?  The weekly jobless claims report is notoriously volatile and is impacted by unforeseeable factors such as weather.  The report on leading indicators and other macro-perspectives of the economy and job market, including the monthly employment situation report, give the view from 30,000 feet.  For job seekers to gauge what is happening in their area, it may be necessary to ignore the national reports and just look around, says John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.  Do you see more “help wanted” signs?  Are the roads more congested during rush hour?  Is the lot at the commuter train station fuller than it was six months ago?  Are you starting to hear about more friends and acquaintances finding new jobs?  These are the things job seekers should be watching for at the ground level.  Why should job seekers basically ignore any news reports they see about the national and local job market? What can job seekers do to jump-start their search if they seem to have hit a dead end? 


To Find a Job

Remain Positive.  It is easy to get discouraged.  Much of the job news is negative and the job search itself, even in the best economy, is full of rejection.  It is important to remember that companies are hiring, to the tune of approximately four million new workers per month. 

Join LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, et al.  More employers are seeking candidates and advertising positions through social and professional networking sites.  These sites also offer effective means of expanding one’s network.  It is critical to create a professional profile and remember that even status updates can be seen by potential employers.  Do not post anything that might eliminate you from the running.

Get involved with community service group.  This is a great way to build your network as well as hone your professional skills. 

Join a professional/trade association.  These organizations can provide training and education opportunities and most hold several networking functions every year.  The dues are worth their weight in gold if you meet a person at an event who can help you find a new job.

Meet 10 new people in your field but outside of your company.  Building these relationships may help you in your current position and they will definitely help when you enter the job market.

Rev up your skills.  Build upon your established skill set.  Explore online courses and local certificate programs to broaden your industry knowledge, increasing your marketability to a variety of employers.


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