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5 ways to use the candidate-centric market to your job search advantage in 2019

If finding a new job is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, you’re in luck. With the unemployment rate at the lowest it has been in generations, candidates have less competition for jobs, and employers are doing everything they can to attract good candidates for their growing needs – from offering higher salaries to providing extra perks. Whether you’re looking for a new job or a complete career change, now is the time to take the leap. The tight labor market is creating new opportunities that won’t be around forever. Learn how you can use the current job market to your advantage now for a spectacular 2019.

Talk yourself in.

How many times have you talked yourself out of applying to a job because you didn’t feel 100 percent qualified? Resolve to quit that habit in the New Year. Never has there been a better time to aim higher in your job search. In today’s tight labor market, employers are more willing to consider applicants with fewer skills, less experience or less education than normally required – particularly if the candidate seems like a good cultural fit, and shows potential to learn and develop into the role. So seize the opportunity and apply to that “dream” job you’ve been eyeing. Just make sure you customize your resume to the job in question as much as possible, and when applying, be sure to include a cover letter. Emphasize what excites you about the role and the company (this requires doing a little intel), your ability and willingness to learn, and any transferrable skills you can bring to the job.

Don’t settle for the first offer.

Just because you get a job offer doesn’t mean you have to say yes – at least not right away. Think of the job offer as a starting point for negotiations. Want an extra $5,000 a year, more paid vacation, stock options or flex time? Now is the time to ask for it. Not only do the vast majority of employers expect candidates to negotiate their initial job offer, employers are more willing to shell out extra cash or benefits these days, if it means bringing in qualified talent. Just be sure your demands are within reason, and know your worth. Use an online salary calculator to find out how much someone at your career level should expect to make, or search CareerBuilder’s Explore Careers page for a quick look at average salary information on hundreds of jobs.

Explore your options.

Having two (or more) job offers to choose from seems like a good problem to have, but it can also be stressful. Don’t automatically go for the company with the highest salary offer. It’s also important to consider cultural fit, growth opportunities, work environment, management style or anything else that is important for you to have in your next job. Check out online reviews of the companies, their career sites and social media pages to get a better feel for the company and what it’s like to work there. Look for people in your network who work there (or who can introduce you to people who work there), and ask them about their experience with the company. Do as much research as possible in order to make an informed decision before accepting an offer and avoid “buyer’s remorse.”

Ask for referrals.

In a tight labor market, employee referrals hold even more weight than usual. That’s because employers are placing more importance on cultural fit, and who better to find people who would be a good fit than current employees? If you see a job at a company where you know someone, reach out to that person and ask if they would be willing to refer you for the job. With so many companies offering rewards to employees who refer candidates, chances are good that the person would be more than happy to oblige. Even if you don’t know someone within the company who can refer you, it is always a good idea to have a list of professional references at the ready who will be willing and able to offer glowing reviews of you.

Upgrade your current job.

Even if you’re satisfied in your current job and don’t plan to leave, there might be something that would make coming into work each day just a little bit sweeter. Would it be a raise? A promotion? A more flexible work schedule? If you know you’ve been a stellar employee, and have the track record to prove it, now is the time to ask for what you want. In a tight labor market, employers are working just as hard to retain good employees as they are to attract them.

Not getting job offers? Your social media could have something to do with it.

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