As a job seeker, it can sometimes feel like you’re at the mercy of a potential employer. But that simply isn’t true — especially in today’s job market, where unemployment sits at an all-time low, explains millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. “That puts power in jobseekers’ hands,” she says.
But a thriving job market isn’t the only thing that makes you — yes, you! — very powerful. Here, career experts explain why you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to your dream job or career.
1. You are the interviewer, too
When Jacinto speaks with clients looking for a new job, she reminds them they are interviewing the potential workplace just as much as that workplace is interviewing them. “The company — even if it has a coveted name — always wants to make the best hiring decisions,” she explains. Hiring managers are focused on retention. “It makes the hiring manager look bad if they hire someone only to have them leave,” Jacinto says. “So, they are going to do their best to sell you on this job, but it’s your job to ask the leading questions to ensure this is the best fit for you.”
2. You have special skills
When you have any special skills, you have more control over where you can work — and in your negotiations for a better salary and benefits package, says career coach Hallie Crawford. And the good news is everyone has special skills: They might be soft skills, leadership skills, advanced training, knowledge of software or machinery, or more. Whatever they are “This highlights the importance of staying on top of trends and learning new industry processes,” Crawford explains.
3. You’re competing in a tight market
Now more than ever, “Employers are looking to retain and attract talent,” Jacinto says. Why? As unemployment rates drop — Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the unemployment rate was just 3.6% in October — the labor pool and competition becomes tight. And that means that “companies are trying to stay competitive with their peers by offering alluring total reward incentives and investing more in their employees in order to win them over,” Jacinto explains.
4. You have a strong online presence
In today’s tech-savvy world, anyone with a strong online presence — like a complete LinkedIn profile, online portfolio or website, drool-worthy Instagram grid, and everything in between — has an edge over the competition, and can attract a potential employer, says Crawford. “Since [hiring managers] are searching for candidates from a long list of possible hires, having a strong online presence makes … it more likely a hiring manager will contact you,” Crawford explains.
5. The workforce is changing
According to Jacinto, “It’s no secret the future of work is heavily influencing the job market.” As new jobs and skills are created and honed each year, “employers need to meet that demand in order to stay relevant,” Jacinto explains. “Even if a potential employee can’t check off all the boxes for one of these emerging roles, employers need to rely on their talent pool because of the overall skills shortage. We will see a lot more on-the-job training as new roles are needed.”