How to Check Out the Job Market Before Starting a Search

On-line job search computer keyboard
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There can be many reasons why you might be thinking about starting a job search. Your career could feel like it’s going nowhere—or maybe you’re bored, and the position isn’t challenging. More money would be nice, or perhaps you want to do something different with the next phase of your working life.

Before making a change, it helps to find out if you'll be able to. Here are some factors to consider if you're thinking of changing jobs.

See What Is Available

Take some time to investigate what the job market will be like for someone with your credentials. Look to see if there are some new skills you need—even a good job market overall might not translate into success if you lack some of the top skills employers are looking for.

Consider starting a passive job search while you’re investigating options and getting prepared. Passive job searching involves listing your skills and qualifications on job boards and letting recruiters search for you. Also, implement some strategies to help position yourself for a job hunt.

Start slowly, find out what positions are available and learn how you stack up against the competition.

Networking can help you learn more about the job market and bolster your search. You might find more career options, get the inside scoop on companies or jobs, and connect with people who can boost your career. If you haven’t built a robust career network, now is the time to start getting one in place.

Analyze Your Current Skills and Experience

The first factor to consider when starting a job search isn’t the unemployment rate—it’s what the job market is like for a candidate with your skills, experience and education level.

Regardless of how long you've been working in your industry, your qualifications still might not match up with job openings. It can be even more complicated to figure out what you might need if you’re considering a career change or a job that’s a step or two up from your current role.

There is a wealth of data online you can use to discover your worth and the salary you should be looking for. You can find companies hiring candidates like you and what the pool of available job openings is like.

Do some soul-searching to see if you want a job in the same industry—perhaps a change would do you some good. Or maybe you want a position similar to the one you have. Identify the skills you need to be competitive if you’re making a change.

If you’re thinking about a career switch, some free career quizzes can help you generate some ideas. Once you have a list of options, you’ll be able to determine how easy it will be to find a new job in that field.

One of the tricky parts of job searching is that it can be hard to calculate how long it will take to find a new job. The more you earn, the longer it can take. Candidates in a high-level position typically spend more time getting hired than an entry-level applicant.

Look for Job and Salary Differences

You can use free salary calculators to determine how much you are worth in today’s marketplace. Input your job title, company, location, education and experience to get customized estimates of your salary potential. Also, use advanced search options on job sites to see if the results match your estimates and expectations.

Once you know what you want to do and how much you want to make, you can use the advanced search options to find job listings. Use the same filters and search parameters to narrow down your choices.

Refresh Your Resume

If you haven't updated your resume recently, take the time to give it a makeover. Be sure to include keywords and skills related to the type of job you’re searching for.

Once you’ve written your first cover letter, you should be able to update and edit it to highlight your qualifications that match the jobs for which you’re applying. It will be easier to customize it each time you apply.

Not all similar jobs have the same requirements. If you're looking for jobs that don't have the same qualifications, be sure to update your cover letter and resume to match before sending it in.

If you don’t have all the qualifications listed in the job posting, consider whether it’s worth your time applying. If there’s a strong applicant pool, you probably won’t be considered if you are short on job requirements.

Get Your Applications In

Most employers have job listings on their websites. Create a list of companies you’d love to work for and work to get (and stay) on their prospective employee radar. Be sure to check them out on Glassdoor.com, and apply directly on the company website.

It’s quick and easy to apply for positions on major job sites like Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, and Dice.com. You’ll have a head start because you’ve already taken a look at what jobs are available. Tweak your resume to fit, and write a custom cover letter for each position. Otherwise, edit the template you created so it’s a strong match.

Use Apps and Keep Applying

Most job sites have apps you can use to simplify the process. Sign up for email job alerts to get notified of new postings as soon as they are listed. If you’re one of the first applicants to apply, you will up your chances of getting selected for an interview.

Don’t slow down when you start getting emails or calls for interviews. You won’t know which jobs will result in job offers, so continue to move ahead with your job search until you have secured a position.