Another jobs report, another mixed bag of statistics that leave most people feeling bleak about the job market. The US had a net 103,000 new jobs in September. But then again, 45,000 of those jobs were Verizon workers who had been on strike and were returning to work. The government has a jobs plan before Congress. But the government can’t keep agree on paying its own bills, so we probably shouldn’t count on them to care about our’s. We’re not technically in a double-dip recession. But after two years of recovery we still have 14 million people looking for jobs.
After reading that, I kind of want to walk up to the owners of my company and give them a little hug simply for staying in business and continuing to employ me. I think the general consensus for those in steady jobs is that we should be thankful and hold on tight. There’s so much uncertainty outside of the safety of my office, it’s hard to think about asking for more or braving the job market without a pretty serious reason.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to let your job growth stay stagnate for five years. The recession started in 2007 and we’re nearing the end of 2011. That’s a long time for any professional to hold off on moving up or looking for a better position. Out of fear, workers are accepting their position and continuing on in jobs that they may have outgrown.
It may seem unfair to be asking for more when so many others are looking for any job at all, but a tepid national jobs report doesn’t mean that job opportunities don’t exist at all. Your career can still expand and grow, even in a tough economy. And you don’t want to give up years of advancement possibilities simply out of fear or complacency in the current job environment.
- Think locally. Jobs reports and national news give a bleak overall picture of our economic recovery. But every city and state has their own positives and negatives. Contact your local Economic Development Alliance (even smaller cities have them) and see what industries are expanding or moving to your area.
- Try to take on more responsibility in your current job. If you aren’t comfortable asking for a promotion, it might be worth it expand the position you’re in. You might not make more money, but you’ll gain knowledge and experience that will be useful as you continue to advance. And companies have a harder time turning down someone’s request for a promotion when they’re already operating above and beyond their job title.
- Don’t be afraid to get out of a bad situation. If you’re having serious problems at your company, you can’t hold on tot he job for fear that it’s the only thing available to you. Start applying online and dropping off resumes. If you stay in a position where you have huge problems with your boss or you’re extremely unhappy, there are a lot of possibilities for burn-out or blow-up. Either way, you could damage future career prospects.
- Network, network, network. Right now, everyone’s in a bad position. We’re all a little afraid and the majority of companies are holding off on expansion and hiring. But it won’t always be like this. Make friends now so that as the economy improves, you have a better chance of taking advantage of the opportunities.
The economic outlook might not be sunshiney, but it’s your career. You have to take charge of it.