Why The Employment Statistics Are Always Wrong

Job Losses
Job Losses

The unemployment rate is not just under 10% or 20-25% for young professionals or declining or stabilizing or any of the things the media reports.

For you personally, the unemployment rate is 0% or 100% (maybe 50% if you’re living in a two-income household).

Are you employed or are you unemployed?

The statistic you need to track is a simple all or nothing.

If your employment rate is 0% and you aren’t independently wealthy, then you need to launch a thoughtful, proactive search, regardless of what the market numbers say. In fact, you want to be even more aggressive when the news is bad because as soon as there is any good news, the competition will be even worse. You will be competing with all the employed people flocking back into the job search market at the slightest hint of a hiring uptick. Don’t delay; the market will get even tighter as the news gets better.

If your employment rate is 100%, congratulations but don’t rest on your laurels. I already wrote about why job search is 24/7 (see Oct 22, 2008 post).

But even more important than just whether you have a job or not, do you have the right job?

Are you on the right career path? Are you happy? Are you paid fairly?

If you are employed but not in the right way, then it doesn’t matter what the market radar says. Your internal radar is telling you to launch a thoughtful, proactive search to steer your career in the right direction.


Stop relying on the news to tell you whether it’s safe or good timing or opportune to enter the market.

Start paying attention to your individual situation instead.

It doesn’t matter if 10% of the population can’t find work. You just need one job – yours.

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Caroline Ceniza-Levine is a career coach, writer, speaker, Gen Y expert and co-founder of SixFigureStart (www.sixfigurestart.com), a career coaching firm comprised of former Fortune 500 recruiters. Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline most recently headed University Relations for Time Inc and has also recruited for Accenture, Citibank, Disney ABC, and others. Caroline is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs and posts at CNBC Executive Careers and Vault.com.

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