Labor Day kicks off what is typically a more volatile employment environment, as companies adjust payrolls to align with year-end goals and plans for the coming year. This makes it the ideal time for workers and job seekers alike to reboot their efforts to find or keep a job, according to the workplace authorities at global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.
For many companies, business activity declines during the summer months, as sales slow and key decision makers take off for vacations. The pace tends to quicken as the year comes to a close as companies scramble to hit earnings goals and establish objectives for the new year. As a result, it is not unusual to see a flurry of employment changes in the final four months of the year.
Following the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression, it should come as no surprise that this has been one of the worst recoveries. That point was recently driven home by two reports confirming just how weak this recovery has been.
An analysis of economic data by the Associated Press reveals that in addition slow job growth and stubbornly high unemployment, economic growth, as measured by GDP, has never been weaker in a postwar recovery.
Consumer spending has grown just 6.5 percent since the end of the recession, undoubtedly due largely to the fact that most Americans’ pay increases are not keeping pace with inflation.
Meanwhile, a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Americans who lost work during the recession are having significant difficulty finding re-employment; even when they do find new work, they’re taking major pay cuts. Of all workers laid off from 2009 to 2011, just 56.9 percent had jobs as of January 2012. Another 27.5 percent were still unemployed, and 15.7 percent had dropped out of the labor force altogether.
Despite the bleak employment picture, keeping or finding a job should not be considered lost causes, by any means.
People continued to hold onto their jobs or find employment, even in the weakest point in the recession and recovery. The key to success on both fronts is to take an active approach, as opposed to a passive one. In this economy, it is critical to make your own opportunities.
While the jobs picture remains cloudy, one thing is clear: employers are announcing fewer layoffs. The Challenger firm tracked more than 2.5 million announced job cuts in 2008 and 2009. From January 2010 through July 2012, the firm tracked planned job cut announcements totaling just under 1.5 million.
People may not feel more secure their jobs, but the data suggests they are. And we hear from many employers that they are actually increasingly concerned about losing existing workers as the economy continues to improve. In fact, a survey we conducted among human resources professionals in June found that 80 percent of respondents’ companies were focused on employee engagement with 67 percent reporting that the focus on engagement is greater now than it was before the recession.
It is important to understand that those who keep their positions during this downturn are not going to do so by flying under the radar. And those who find jobs are not going to do it by simply responding to Internet job ads. It will take a more aggressive approach that goes beyond most people’s comfort zone.
The other key to succeeding in your Labor Day resolutions is to set specific objectives and reasonable deadlines for achieving them. Instead of making it your goal to find a new job, focus on the smaller steps needed to get that job. For instance, resolve to join a professional association or find other ways to meet 10 new people in your field.
Additionally, it is important to focus on things you can control and act on personally. Resolving to get a promotion requires your employer to take action. Resolving to keep your supervisor regularly updated on your accomplishments and joining a workplace committee are actions that you can take that will help position you for a promotion.
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LABOR DAY RESOLUTIONS
To Keep Your Job
Seek more responsibility. Volunteer for challenging tasks and exhibit a take-charge attitude. By assuming additional responsibilities, you demonstrate how you can increase value for the corporation.
Meet your boss’s boss. At the next company event, go out of your way to meet those at least two rungs higher on the corporate ladder. They are the ones who can advance your career.
Join a company committee. Whether it is a committee developing new workplace policies or simply planning the company holiday party, joining or volunteering can help you build relationships with other people in your company whom you might otherwise never meet.
Find and/or become a mentor. Mentoring and being mentored provide perspectives and new ideas about career goals and how to achieve them.
Align individual and company goals. Evaluate your company’s goals and identify the similarities and differences in comparison to your personal career objectives. Look to bridge the gap in differences by attending meetings and company-offered development courses. This illustrates your willingness to be on board with the company’s future plans.
Discover ways to save money. Find ways to increase efficiency and performance while decreasing costs. This is especially important in a time when employers are looking for ways to reduce spending. You will be making a significant contribution to the organization’s profitability.
Become an expert on one facet of your field. It is important to be a generalist, but knowing more than anyone else on a specific issue or topic will help make you the “go-to” person for anyone in the company who has a question on that area. This specialized knowledge makes you extremely valuable and should be covered in your resume.
To Find a Job
Join LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, et al. More companies are searching the Internet for more information about candidates, so create a professional looking page that tells them you are exceptional. With millions of members, these professional and social networking sites are a valuable job-search tool.
Remove/Cover tattoos. While body art is becoming more common and more accepted in some offices, many still find it unprofessional.
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.
Stay positive and be patient. Job searches are never easy, but it can be particularly daunting in a downturn economy. By maintaining a positive attitude and exhibiting patience, you can overcome the emotional barriers that could lengthen your search. Even in tough economic times, job opportunities are out there.
Source: Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.©