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How to Use Labor Market Trends to Your Advantage

The job market is always changing. As noted during the COVID-19 pandemic, many variables have the potential to disrupt and cause major shifts to job availability and even where people physically work. These changes can make navigating the market an overwhelming experience. Knowing where to begin, what employers are looking for and even how to advocate for pay/benefits can feel like daunting tasks.

Even for those who’ve already found jobs but are looking to advance their careers, maneuvering around these advancements requires additional considerations. Knowing how or when to ask for a promotion, raise or even professional development opportunities can be key factors in moving your career forward.

Using Available Resources

Factors like inflation, a looming recession, global pandemics and even gas prices have the potential to influence the job market. To better understand these market influencers, there are a variety of sources online that provide information on all things related to the job market. While it’s not necessary to absorb every detail, it’s good to know what resources are available so you can be better equipped to advance your career.

Here are a few ways you can use available resources to your advantage:

    Preparation Is Key

Understanding how the current market operates can demystify the hiring process and help you feel more prepared for interviews and important career conversations. Whether you’re a first-time job seeker or looking to find a new career, it’s always better to go in prepared.

For example, remote interviewing and remote work are increasingly becoming the new norm while only a few years ago, coming into the office five days a week was standard. While employers and workers likely never imagined work-from-home (WFH) situations would become normalized, these changes highlight a need to remain adaptable — a quality among other professional skills often listed in job descriptions.

Using labor market resources is a great way to ensure you’re always informed and prepared for whatever big trend might impact the market next.

    Setting Realistic Expectations

In an ever-changing landscape, keeping up with the job market can also help set realistic expectations when it comes to job availability and earnings. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that because of an increase in contactless shopping as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, “retail trade is projected to decline by nearly 587,000 jobs from 2020 to 2030 (the largest projected employment decline of any sector).” This information is not only vital to those already in the retail field, but also for those looking to enter this area of work.

If a particular industry is seeing a spike or lull in labor demand, you might consider using these insights to help you make informed decisions about where to apply or which opportunity to take.

    Knowledge Is Power

In recent months, studies have shown the market disproportionately benefits workers. In some cases, workers have been willing to quit their jobs in favor of working for companies that prioritize wellbeing or offer more flexible schedules. For job seekers and existing employees, this competitive market leaves room for valuable negotiations regarding pay/benefits, workplace flexibility or even training and development opportunities.

When workers are aware of the potential opportunities around them, this knowledge can empower them to make well-informed career decisions. As many employers turn to incentives to attract and compete for candidates, you can use this information to your advantage and best gauge what to advocate for and what’s realistic in today’s market.

    Stand out From the Crowd

Thousands of candidates can apply to a single job, but if you’re staying informed on the latest labor trends, it can give you a competitive advantage. As the market shifts, specific skill sets become more in demand than others, meaning you can leverage your existing skills or work toward a new skill to ensure you always stand out.

Being aware of in-demand skills can help keep you one step ahead of other job applicants going for the same job or promotion, so be sure to highlight any applicable sought-after skill sets on your own resume.

    Don’t Forget to Stay Connected

Many resources are available on job search and networking platforms like LinkedIn. By using these networks to connect with other professionals in the field, job seekers can begin to establish themselves as part of the community and access intel as it flows through these channels. Not to mention, LinkedIn is also a great place to get in touch with recruiters who can provide genuine career advice and serve as a way of getting in direct contact with hiring managers or companies you’re interested in working for.

To summarize, using labor market insights to your advantage can:

  • Prepare you for potential changes to the job market that could affect your career 
  • Help you make informed decisions about where to apply and which opportunity to take 
  • Empower you to negotiate pay/benefits, workplace flexibility and upskilling opportunities
  • Keep you a step ahead of other candidates competing for the same job or promotion
  • Connect you with a community of other professionals in your field

Over time you will become attuned to which events might cause shifts to the job landscape. An informative source, like a monthly labor report, can serve as a compass for navigating an otherwise murky market and empower individuals to make informed career decisions.

Be sure to read Aston Carter’s monthly labor report to stay up-to-date on trends and visit our Career Opportunities page to explore rewarding careers in a variety of fields and industries.