When Jobs are Tight, Make Your Search Tighter

Good news on the jobs front: the labor market may be on the way to recovery. New unemployment applications fell to below the 400,000 level for the first time since late December and they hit their lowest mark since July 2008.

However, that’s a far cry from a job seeker’s market. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that the jobless rate will likely remain high “for some time” because businesses are worried about hiring additional help when the economy is so uncertain. And yet, if you want or need a new job in business management, you can’t wait around for conditions to get better. So, how can you stand out from other applicants?

First step is to be sure you have the educational credentials. A bachelor’s degree in business is a basic requirement. But even in these tight times, compensation for employees with MBAs is on the rise. If you don’t already have one, it’s time to start earning one. Part-time programs can offer flexibility, as does getting an advanced business administration degree online.

Look in the right places for employment. One way to pinpoint areas with growing economies is to look at office prices and commercial vacancy rates. When companies are expanding, corporate real estate demand is up.

You want to convey the air of someone suited to management. That means thinking like a manager when you plan your job search. Understand your career goals and know your own strengths and weaknesses. Also, extensively research the companies in which you’re interested. What are their financial histories, challenges and opportunities? How are their industries faring? The better you know yourself and the companies you want to apply with, the more accurately you can determine whether there is a good fit – and you’ll be able to express why to a hiring manager.

Also, consider whether tailoring your resume would be wise. Small changes can emphasize parts of your experience or areas of concentration in your business intelligence degree that would match the requirements of a company. These can be the requirements stated in a job advertisement or the ones you’ve determined in your research. If you lack particular practical experience, consider volunteering with a non-profit and taking on the type of work you’d like to apply for. It can become an invaluable form of training.

Networking is also one of the best ways to learn about your industry and meet the people in it. Joining LinkedIn and other social networking groups can help you pinpoint useful resources and contacts. Research industry-specific online groups and forums and begin participating in discussions and reaching out to other group members. Use your research to identify professional associations that align with your industry of choice and attend local events. There may also be opportunities to volunteer at events, which will not only provide valuable experience, but may give you the chance to meet key contacts in your industry.

The good news? Corporations are exceeding their sales forecasts and a top economic forecaster says that the economy will add 2 million jobs this year alone.