If you're thinking about re-entering the job market after a long break, economists agree: Now is the time.
According to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the economy added 250,000 jobs in October, and unemployment held steady at 3.7 percent, the lowest since 1969. Wages rose by 0.2 percent (year-over-year growth of 3.1 percent), and the number of people working or looking for a job increased by 711,000.
Glassdoor's Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain says that with job gains for both full-time and seasonal hires, now is the perfect time for anyone who has been unemployed to get back out there. CNBC Make It spoke with Chamberlain and Bankrate.com's senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick about the ways in which unemployed professionals can re-enter the workforce — and how they can use the upcoming holiday season to their advantage.
If you've been out of the job market for a while because of early retirement, family caretaking or a workplace injury, Hamrick says one of the first things you should do is a self-audit.
"You need to see what you can reasonably offer an employer and what skills might be missing," he says. "If you are seeking a job that has a technical skill, that is probably a bit of a heavier lift than one that includes soft skills like conducting a mature conversation, showing up to work on time and passing a drug test."
Hamrick points out how there are a record number of job openings in the market today, and not enough professionals to fill these roles. As a result, he says, professionals seeking employment opportunities are now in a position to bargain for what they want, including on-the-job training.
"As more firms have a hard time finding workers, some are having to step up and provide non-financial benefits that they haven't provided in the past," he says.
Chamberlain adds that anyone looking for new opportunities should avoid industries like telecommunications, as well as traditional media and publishing. He says that in a changing economy and with the rapid advancement of technology, many positions in these fields may be non-existent in the next few years.
Instead, he says, employment in healthcare and business services is continuing to rise, with no predictions of a slow-down.
For anyone looking to get hired after a long employment gap, Hamrick suggests taking advantage of volunteer opportunities at an organization related to your field.
"One pass into an organization can be to volunteer if you have both the time and the means to do that," he says. "If they find your work to be valuable and almost indispensable, it is not unreasonable to be offered employment there."
He says volunteering at a company or organization's event can also create an organic opportunity for you to network with current employees. "People need to basically be networking all the time, and not just when they are facing the crisis of a layoff or a loss of a job," says Hamrick.
With the holiday season approaching, he says now is a great time to network, whether you're at a community gathering or a friend's office holiday party. During these events, he says it doesn't hurt to ask someone out for a quick coffee or lunch to get to know them better and discuss opportunities at their company.
"Don't ask flat-out if you can be hired," says Hamrick. "But ask something like, 'Are you aware of any openings that may be happening within your organization?'"
If you're still looking for an extra jolt of encouragement, consider your odds of landing a job 10 years ago.
In October 2008, the jobless rate was at a 14-year high, with unemployment at 6.5 percent. Between January and October 2008, the economy lost an estimated 1.2 million jobs. Roughly 240,000 of those job losses took place in October, reports The New York Times.
"The economy is slipping deeper into a recessionary sinkhole that is getting broader," Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh, told The New York Times. "The layoffs are getting larger, and coming faster. We're likely to see at least another six months of more jobs reports like this."
Marc Cenedella, the CEO of the career site Ladders, says that compared to 10 years ago, job-seekers are in an excellent position to find promising opportunities.
"It's a market where people looking for jobs have the ability to get multiple offers and have employers compete for them," he says, "and that is obviously a big change from 10 years ago."
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