10 Tips for Managing Your Career in a Fierce Job Market

We’re hearing job loss reports almost non-stop these days – from Congress, presidential candidates, the Federal Reserve chairman and business experts. The U.S. economy lost approximately 160,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2008. But how does that translate to you?

“The job loss reported in the first quarter signified a gradual deceleration in recruitment in the U.S. as the nation’s economy downshifted,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of

“In the next three months, employers anticipate marginal change in their hiring pace. While some industries are experiencing a contraction in employment levels, areas such as information technology, healthcare, professional and business services and sales continue to add full-time jobs.”

In the latest Job Forecast from and USA TODAY, 29 percent of employers plan to grow their number of full-time, permanent employees from April through June while 59 percent anticipate no change and 6 percent expect to decrease headcount. Six percent are unsure.

Certain industries and functions continue to outpace other areas in terms of producing new jobs. Forty-five percent of IT employers expect to add full-time, permanent employees in the second quarter followed by 36 percent in Sales, 32 percent in professional and business services and 30 percent in large healthcare organizations.

Eleven percent of hiring managers reported there were layoffs at their locations in the first quarter. Seven percent anticipate there will be layoffs in the next three months. Eighty-three percent expect no change while 10 percent are unsure.

So while hiring is slowing, there are still open positions. Here are 10 tips for managing your career in a fierce market.

1. Be the best you can be within your profession. Since the competition for jobs is so fierce, candidates need to demonstrate how they can add value to an organization. What are your key selling points that distinguish you from the competition? This is important not only for those looking for a job, but also for those who wish to keep their current jobs.

2. Brand yourself. What do you stand for? How are you marketing yourself? This is the time to be public in your search. Are you creating demand for your services and expertise?

3. Network constantly and consistently. Try joining a business networking site like LinkedIn. You can never have enough friends or colleagues who will go to bat for you.

4. Develop an ongoing relationship with a qualified recruiter with whom you feel comfortable. Being included in a database isn’t enough. Your goal is to become the candidate of choice for that hidden job opening.

5. There has been an increased use of freelancers. As such, candidates need to be more entrepreneurial, whether they are self-employed or work for an agency or corporation. is a site that hosts jobs just for freelancers and contractors.

6. If you are out of work, form a “consortium” with other professionals where you can complement each other’s skills and offer services to clients.

7. Embrace change. You don’t want to be left behind. Keep your skills up to date. Consider creating a personal Web site or taking a class.

8. Prepare for an evolving job market. Look for trends in the areas of increased hiring. Growth industries and areas include health care, education and green living.

9. Your résumé is your own personal advertisement. Make sure it highlights your accomplishments with quantifiable results, not merely details your jobdescription.

10. Candidates whose backgrounds don’t match client credentials or job requirements won’t get much attention. Pay attention to the employer’s specs or job posting and respond accordingly.

By Kate Lorenz, Editor

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