Job growth is the U.S. economy is still anemic, the June U.S. unemployment report demonstrates. Only 80,000 jobs were created in June, far below the average 226,000 monthly pace of the first quarter of this year. The unemployment rate remains stuck at 8.2% and that doesn’t include all the out-of-work people who have become so discouraged they are no longer looking for work.
What does all that mean for job-seekers? A tough slog of job-hunting will continue, that’s the most obvious answer. But looking deeper into the report, I was struck by the difference in job creation early in the year and at mid-year. I think one lesson is that the first three months of a year are the best time to find a job. Companies have new budgets and new hopes that the coming year will be better. That’s when they’re most likely to fill positions.
That means that as a job hunter, you need to be networking and sending out exploratory e-mails and letters in the last quarter of the year, a time normally thought of as a slow job-hunting season. Get your name in front of people about to hire in January and the first quarter. Don’t wait until after New Year’s Day, there may already been a pile of resumes in before yours at that point. And keep searching intensely through March. I once started a new job on January 3, a job I had networked about in the fourth quarter of the prior year.
For companies in this economy, by June reality sets in, budgets start being cut and managers start being told to do more with less. I’ve lived through that in every job I’ve had during these tough economic times, it’s real, believe me. Search in the fourth quarter and the first quarter until economic times get better for better odds of finding something.