Virtual Job Fair

October 29, 2012 5:55:41 AM PDT
John Challenger of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas shares job search information with ABC7 Chicago.

Q: Where does the job market stand for the remainder of 2012/going into 2013?

A:
- We could see an end-of-the-year increase in job cuts as employers try to meet earnings goals and make workforce adjustments based on 2013 plans.
- Ongoing troubles in Europe and general weakness around the globe means that large companies here that are dependent on foreign markets may hold off on big hiring plans.
- That being said, hiring is always occurring.
- Nearly 4.4 million Americans were hired in August, more than 1 million of those were in the Midwest.
- At the end of that month, there were still nearly 3.6 million job openings, including nearly 800,000 in the Midwest.
- There is a lot of turnover right now, with a growing number of people retiring or quitting their jobs, so there are opportunities opening up that job seekers can take advantage of.

Top 5 industries/occupations:
- Health care - Aging population and more people with health insurance mean more jobs. Nursing, doctors, physical therapists, pharmacists are all in high demand.
- Information technology - Engineers, programmers, network architects, IT security are in demand. On the less technical side, this area needs sales and marketing people to sell the hardware, software and services.
- Office administration - One analysis notes that 17% of job openings right now are in general office administration?receptionists, office managers, etc. However, these individuals are not simply answering phones; they are being asked to help put together PowerPoint presentations, manage spreadsheets, troubleshoot networking issues, provide customer service. Tech skills are a must.
- Financial services - Accountants, analysts, financial planners, retirement consultants.
- Skilled trades - Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, HVAC repair, and construction workers. Retirements are shrinking the number of workers with these specialized skills and fewer are pursuing these careers out of high school.

Top 5 tips to re-ignite your search (what to do differently)
- Network, network, network -- If your efforts have revolved around responding to online job ads and blindly sending out resumes, get out from behind your computer and start meeting people face-to-face. A good network starts with people you know but soon branch out to new introductions to people who can best help you in your job search and/or career.
- Identify new targets - Draw a 10-mile circle around your home. Identify every company where your skills might be needed and start trying to find a way to get a foot in the door. Perhaps you know someone who works there. Call the head of whatever department your job would fall under and seek a meeting to get his or her advice on making inroads in this market.
- Don't take a holiday - With the holidays coming up, many job seekers take a hiatus, figuring that key decision makers are out of the office or focused on year-end goals. This is a great time to increase your job-search activities and take advantage of the dearth in competition.
- Keep your skills fresh - Find some way to keep your skills fresh, whether it is by volunteering for some non-profit organization or taking classes at a local community college. The biggest concern employers have about long-time job seekers is that their skills are "rusty." So you want to be able to point to specific efforts you have made to stay up to date on the latest trends and developments in your profession.
- Stay positive - This is easier said than done, but maintaining a positive attitude and outlook is critical to job search success. If you walk into an interview with a gray cloud over your head, it is immediately noticeable and almost guaranteed to sink your chances for success. Avoid the tendency to fault other employers for recognizing your abilities. It is equally important to not get down on yourself.

Q: How do you explain the gap in employment to prospective employers?

A:
- It is important not to be defensive. Be honest. If family situations were barriers in the search, they should state that and that now that the issues are resolved they are looking forward to taking on new challenges.
- Use language that emphasizes that you have been looking hard for the right fit.
- Also emphasize any volunteer work they have done and/or any classes/consulting working/etc. that they have done to keep their skills sharp.

www.ChallengerGray.com


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