The Job Market Is Up — 3 Ways to Stand Out and Land a Job Before the Next Downturn, From Experts

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April 23, 2024 at 9:17PM UTC

Even after issuing a correction, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that unemployment in May was down to (a still staggering) 16.4% from almost 20% in April. The report suggests 2.5 million jobs were gained in the month of May. 

Many of these job gains were likely the result of businesses reopening and rehiring their employees — and experts are warning there is an economic collapse around the corner. Still, it's worth knowing how to set yourself apart when applying to jobs in the (even if momentarily) brightening economy. Here are three ways to tailor your job search to this specific moment in our COVID-era economy, based on recent conversations with hiring experts. 

1. Pay extra attention to your transferable skills

Right now, job seekers need to be reactive to what organizations and industries are hiring. That may means applying in spaces that are outside of your comfort zone. In order to target expanding parts of the workforce, it's important to determine the skills of yours that transcend industries or organizations and learn how to market them. 
"Looking at your skills, seeing what is transferable, can help you to keep your options open," Anthony Quinones, CEO & Chief Reinvention Officer at Q Ball Media, said. "This makes it easier to pivot into your next job."
Pick out parts of your resume that highlight important "soft" skills that set someone up for success in any role. These may be leadership credentials, examples of setting and achieving business goals, or demonstrated strengths in communication, data analysis and other skills anyone is better off having. 
Find job openings that align with these underlying pillars of your experience, then apply to those roles with resumes and cover letters that focus in on these achievements. Provide proof that you've researched how your interests and skills align with the new space you're applying within. In your cover letters, be explicit in mentioning why these skills would make you successful in the role you're applying to, even if it is a different field or industry than you're used to. 

2. Apply to jobs with requirements speak to your resume rather than applying to anything with a charming title. 

Career coach Adrienne Tom wants jobseekers to know the best job search is an intentional one. Rushing to apply to jobs because they sound nice will lead to a lot of lost time. 
"Instead of racing ahead without focus, afford yourself time to analyze skills and identify a clear next target," she said. "Your career deserves thoughtful and intentional planning and execution."
As previously suggested, applying to jobs with requirements that match your skills — no matter the industry or field — is the better way to spend your time, especially with a high national unemployment rate and heightened competition. While it's good to dream big and apply to jobs even if you don't match every requirement, applying to jobs just because they have an enticing title or seem like they could work shouldn't be at the top of your to-do list. 

3. Put in an extra burst of effort after you send your application.

One of the most important parts of standing out in the job application practice? Making it past the initial HR filters. Hiring manager and business blogger Becky Beach says this can be harder than it seems and advocates for going around the traditional application process to make up for that fact. 
"As a hiring manager, I don't even get to see a resume unless it has been processed by HR first," she said. "A great idea to get in front of a hiring manager is to search for them by job role on LinkedIn. I have had people message me directly on LinkedIn before with their resume."
In other words, put a bit of extra effort in after sending your application to make your voice heard — whether that means sending a LinkedIn request or getting a contact at the organization to send an email.

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