Our Current #LaborMarket: Where do we stand?

By George Bernocco


It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I figured I would not only do an update, but rather update us all on our current labor market. Questions still remain as we have transitioned out of the recession. Are there jobs and where are they? Let’s take a quick glance as 2014 begins to close out.

Unemployment Rate is down

The numbers show that, as of September 2014, unemployment rate is at 5.9% for the national rate (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm). Just so you can see the decline of the rate:

September 2011 = 9.0%

September 2012 = 7.8%

September 2013 = 7.2%

September 2014 = 5.9%


The number suggests that the labor market is getting better nationally. Now for Connecticut, the numbers are as follows:

August 2011 = 8.9%

August 2012 = 8.5%

August 2013 = 7.8%

August 2014 = 6.6%

Although the numbers show a decline, the unemployment rate in Connecticut is still above the national number.


Want vs Need

As the layoffs hit during the recession, no one envisioned it might take a long time for them to return to work. As a result, employment gaps among the unemployed population became the biggest concern of an “employer” market. As employers were much more selective in determining their candidates during the recession, more and more people became “discouraged” unemployed. This process occurred over about six years, where unemployment extensions came and went.

And then, everything started to get better. Numbers started to fall back below pre-recession rated. Jobs started to come around. The result was people taking jobs they needed rather than wanted, as support benefits at state and federal levels were not enough for not long enough. Jobseekers, unable to get into the field they wanted for so long during the recession, began picking up employment opportunities as they were offered to them.

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“College Graduate working as wait staff”

The labor market has changed since before recession levels. Jobs are not quite up to where they were before the recession hit, especially when we talk industry specific. If we looked at hospitality and restaurant workers, there is practically a job out there for every single job seeker. These are jobs that some, not all, would be willing to take, or have obtained in the wake of the great recession. However, these employees may have never left “job seeker” status.

The job seeker today, which may be you reading this article, might be employed. Might be at a job they don’t see a future at. The job may have been something to pay the bills, and had little or nothing to do with the career you have in mind. The job may be part time. The job might be in your career field but pays significantly less than what you made before or what you were expecting. You might be a recent Computer Engineer college graduate working as a waiter. As a result, the job seeker is looking to get back on that path towards their career as they receive a pay check from their job.


Employer Market vs Job Seeker Market

What has been predominantly an employer market is in the process of changing towards job seeker market. As the jobs begin opening up across career fields, job seekers (whether employed or not) will be more in control. Employers will still be selective of who they want, but may have to go out and find their candidate. Employers will have to create more incentives (Pay amount, vacation, bonuses, perks, etc) to hire people, and job seekers will have more of a choice of where and who they want to work for.

The process of transition from employer market to job seeker market has already begun. Which is why as a job seeker it is important to let the employers know that, even if you are employed, you are interested in a career with them. Making sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are out on the internet is crucial right now. Employers might be contacting you without you even having applied to them. This is a stark contrast from the recession era, where one would apply for a job over the internet and may never hear from the employer.

In conclusion, the job market is improving. The average job seeker varies from the job seeker of four years ago. Make yourself marketable now so that employers can find you and reach out to you for a career. When we talk about this recession, not only can we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we can begin to feel some of the warmth the light provides.


Job Search Planning




Success comes from hard work, and job search success takes planning.  When looking for your next position, ask yourself-

1.       Do I know what I want to do?  Can I do that here?  Do I need any further education or training to be qualified for this type of work?

This is a question only you can answer, but there are plenty of skills and interest assessment tools out there to help.  MySkillsMyFuture.org and MyNextMove.org can help get the ideas rolling if you are stuck.  Career counselors and workshops provided at local American Job Centers can also help you narrow down your choices.

Always compare your target occupation against Labor Market Information to see if that job is currently growing or if that position is popular in your area.  Some jobs are only available in major cities, so determining your target job can make you weigh a lot of factors.  Am I willing or capable of moving?  If I stay here, would I be happy to do another type of job?  Do I have the skills to do another type of job?

 If you need further education or training, there are many free online training programs sponsored by the American Job Centers, or see if local college or training programs are an option.  Depending on the career path, sometimes there is funding or assistance available for training.


2.      Who knows I am looking for work?

 Make sure your friends and family know you are looking.  When you speak with them, give them a brief overview of what you did and what you would like to do next.  If you’re open to different types of work, be specific.  Avoid saying you’d “Take anything,” because it is off-putting and defeats your purpose.  Saying you’re open to anything sounds like you’re not really focused on anything.  If you don’t know what you want, how can someone else properly refer you?  Keep in contact with your network and help them when you can so they can remember you if a fitting lead comes up.

Catching up with friends or family, going to an alumni or industry-related event, connecting with people through social media, or joining job search groups are just a few ways you can grow your network.  It may be difficult for shyer folks to “put yourself out there” but with research from the first step, knowing what you want may be a confidence boost on its own.  There are also lots of networking event ice breakers you can look up, but being friendly and helpful are always recommended.


3.     What am I using to market myself?

 Now that you know what you want to do, and you have researched the skills to take to do it (or are in a training program gaining the knowledge or experience needed,) you’ll need to develop some marketing materials.  Your resume is crucial, and will be supplemented by any other materials an employer can see or will receive.

If you’re applying to a position directly, be sure to optimize your materials with keywords so you make the match for the employer and show you are qualified for the job.

When posting your resume online such as on CT.jobs, be sure you title your resume something related to your field.  “Human Resources Manager” or “Results-Oriented Sales Representative” is better than “Tom Smith Resume” because the employer searches resumes on CT.jobs by keywords.

Searching job postings nationally will give you an array of keywords that are common across your target positions.  Save a list of these keywords so you can use them in context throughout your resume or application materials.

Resumes and application materials are supplemented by any online networking sites you have joined.  It is important to establish an online presence because many employers “Google” candidates prior to interviews.  In the same way that you do not want to be screened out for an improper Facebook photograph, you also want to be noticed for your positive contributions on the web.  Joining and engaging with other industry professionals on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn will reflect positively on you.  By default, Google will typically list these pages first if you actively use them and they are a great way to strengthen your reputation and positive image ever before any interview.



Targeting, Networking, and Marketing are essential for job search success.  Lay out a plan for yourself and create a list of realistic and manageable goals to complete these steps one at a time.  Like any activity, you get out of it what you put it.  Stay energized and motivated, and if you feel that negative self-talk is defeating your job search, disrupt your routine and try a new approach.  There are hundreds of ways to network and market yourself.  Finding what works for you and what makes the phone ring will take some planning and experimenting, but these tips should get you started.