5 Things Job Applicants Can Expect in 2017

Good morning, Highlanders! It’s another addition of Career Thursdays here on the Alumni Blog. As the new year approaches, it’s natural for people to think about and reevaluate their current job situation. How are my needs being fulfilled? Am I still passionate about the work that I’m doing? Do I feel valued and understood as part of my current team? Now is a good time to start updating that resume and LinkedIn profile page to reflect your current skill sets and think about what you want your next step to be. I found this article on the US News & World Report website. It was written by Ray Bixler on December 9, 2016. See my comments in italics.

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Get prepared for your upcoming job hunt.

After another strong jobs report, which shows the unemployment rate is down to 4.6 percent, job candidates will have the chance to press their advantage – but only if they know the new rules of the game. It pays to be prepared. Here are five key trends that job seekers will encounter in 2017 – and tips on how to navigate this new terrain.

A Need for Speed. The job-search process is moving faster than ever. Companies are paying close attention to how fast job applicants respond to their questions and complete any necessary assessments, and they are sometimes using this information to rule candidates in – or out. For example, our research shows that the reference response rate is a factor in predicting turnover, along with the overall rating those references provide. Job applicants who take longer to provide references, or whose references don’t respond in time to a request on behalf of a potential employer, may be perceived as less likely to last for the long term. Potential employers know this and are factoring it into their decision-making. *I personally think that this reference idea is a little over the top. I agree that making sure your references are available to speak to the HR representative or hiring manager is important to find out before submitting their name to the employer, but I think it’s a little extreme to say that the HR representative not being able to get a hold of your reference will make you look bad. Maybe in some instances, but I don’t want to believe that this is the majority. 

That means you should make sure that you’ve got a good list of job references prepared and ready to go. Make sure you know if they’re around and available when you’re in the midst of a job search – and make sure they know that they should be accessible. Before your references even open their mouths, they’re creating an impression about you – and employers are paying attention. *Many employers are speeding up their process for job candidates, however if you are going through a process that is taking a long time, that could be the nature of the organization. I know with higher education, it seems like the process takes longer. I’ve gone through a few different processes and from application to hire it’s been a good 3-4 months! Whatever you do when you’re going through a job process and you haven’t heard anything for a while, they may just be going through whatever red tape they have to go through within their organization. It’s easy to become impatient, but just breathe and know that if you’re suppose to get the job you will get the call or email for an interview.

You’ll Be Asked to Do More Online. From assessment screenings to video interviews to automated reference checking, candidates will be completing more of the job-seeking process online (even though the face-to-face interview will remain most important). If you’re a younger job candidate, this probably seems normal. If you’re a bit more experienced, some of the online interactions may seem new and even strange. The best thing anyone can do is be prepared.

If you’re going to participate in a video interview, take simple steps like making sure you’re as presentable as you’d be for an in-person meeting, addressing potential interruptions like ringing phones, dogs barking or kids making noise, and check out your backdrop so it’s neutral and professional (no dirty socks hanging off the side of the hamper). *Make sure if you have a Skype interview, you are dressed professionally at least from the waist up so that you look the part. Check your lighting in the room where you’re going to be completing the interview. Practice looking at the camera, this can be uncomfortable because you’re naturally going to want to look at the screen and look at the people you’re chatting with but it’s important for them to see you looking at the camera. Test your internet connection before hand so you know things are good for the actual interview. 

When providing references online, the protocol is the same as it is for offering up references to be reached by phone. Make sure your references know something about the job you’re under consideration for and give them a heads up that they’re likely to be contacted. *Send your references a copy of the job description and your most updated resume so they are more prepared to answer the questions based on your skill sets. Let them know the name of the person who will be calling them, if you know this information. 

You’re Going to Be Treated Better. It’s a job seeker’s market right now. Unemployment continues to edge downward and companies are competing aggressively for talent. This translates into a better job-search experience for you. Employers are likely to be more responsive and open to negotiation. Salaries are climbing as well. *Salaries aren’t always negotiable but always ask if there’s any flexibility and state why you think you deserve more money. They may agree but sometimes they are already bringing you in at the top and then you have a decision to make.

Enjoy it – but don’t become overly confident. The impression that you make during the interview process is one that can stick with you right into your early days on the job. And if the impression is that you’re difficult or overly demanding, you won’t be setting yourself up for long-term success.

Employers Will Care More Than Ever About the Interview Experience. Employers increasingly recognize that job candidates talk. Job seekers are vocal, not only with each other but much more broadly about the organizations they interview with, expressing their views online through communities like Glassdoor. If the job interview experience is negative, employers know that it will reflect poorly on the brand overall.

As a result, companies are thinking more carefully about how job candidates are treated. The interview process is becoming less adversarial. Employers are trying to communicate more clearly and often, and working to project an open, friendly attitude – even when job seekers don’t quite make the cut. *Transparency with job candidates is an important trend. I think it’s also important for job seekers to be confident enough to ask tough questions when going through the interview process. 

Prepare to Be Sourced. In today’s tight job market, employers are doing everything they can to identify quality candidates, even if candidates aren’t actively hunting for a job. Make sure you look good. Ensure that your LinkedIn page is up to date. Do some end-of-year cleaning and privacy reviewing across your social media accounts (take down or make private those happy hour photos).

At the same time, keep an open mind. Even if you are completely content in your current job, a great opportunity could be on the other end of a cold call or email. Take a minute and consider it. *Don’t be afraid to apply and see what happens. That’s how almost all of my job opportunities have happened. I see a job on a job board that looks interesting, I apply for it on a whim and then I get the job offer even when I’m not in a full on job search. 

Remember these five trends as you head into 2017 and you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to managing your career.

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