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How to weather the roller coaster job market

I was honored to be on the radio about the job market with Matt Jones at Cumulus here in Atlanta. I wanted to share the content we talked about on the radio with you here.

The economic climate recently has felt like a roller coaster for job seekers. They get mixed messages about the job market, some days it’s good news and some days it’s bad. It can be hard to know how to handle it! For example: Median salaries for college graduates increased by 4.5%in 2012 and employers’ plans to hire them are up 10.2% (per surveys from The National Association of Colleges and Employers). Yet, early April also saw unemployment claims rise to 380,000—the highest levels since January 2012. Sure it’s changed again.

So how do you know how to handle seemingly conflicting information? For a long time job seekers, including graduates, have been told to sit tight because you can’t land your dream job. In some ways that’s been true. Then we get some good news mixed in with bad and people aren’t sure whether to make the leap.

I suggest several things to keep your cool when you’re receiving conflicting information:

Temper your enthusiasm with pragmatism. I’ve said this regardless of the economic climate. You can land and work towards your dream job, and you absolutely should! Sometimes you need to be more cautious than others. Don’t give up on it, just measure the landscape, the economic climate and how quickly or slowly you need to make your change. Make a plan, and adjust the timeline based on how things look for your industry. Combine passion with pragmatism. Find something you truly enjoy and focus on it. Move towards it consistently but … figure out a way to pay your bills, take care of yourself and make the transition slowly. Take a part time job outside of your current one, volunteer, take a class, whatever. Go slowly but don’t lose enthusiasm for where you’re going.

Keep your eye on the ball. I have too many people who get excited about a career direction, then go off track. They get disappointed because they’re not moving forward quickly enough and they give up, OR they get distracted by something else and move the wrong way. When I was working with my career coaching client Luke last week, he was doing just that. It’s the bright shiny object syndrome (which I also have.) I did this too when I determined that I wanted to teach in some way, but then I was offered a job in something completely different and I said ok and took it even though I knew it wouldn’t be a long term fit! It was offered and it was easy. Yes I had to pay my bills and that was part of it, but I should have instead said I’ll take this job while I’m working towards teaching or coaching on the side. Instead 2 years later I was stuck there and miserable. Always ask yourself, will this move me towards my goal?

Know your limits. This sounds silly but some people don’t know what they need to live on and/or aren’t absolutely certain about those numbers. Determine how much you need to live and know your limits so you can work from a workable budget to stay financially stable while you’re pursuing the dream. Being absolutely certain about where you stand and what you need financially gives you that peace of mind and a foundation that you can move forward from. This way you’re not worrying about that as much and can focus on the dream.

Think outside the box. Are there jobs out there related to what you want to do long term but that are easier for you to get right now and could help you move towards your dream job? Think creatively; be open to alternative ideas and options. While you do want to remain focused and not get off track, you also need to be flexible and open to other options if the job you’re wanting long term just isn’t attainable right now. Make a long term plan for making it happen.

Focus on career management. See your career as an asset you need to manage, invest in and maintain long term. Not something short term you can just assume will be there. More and more we need to see our jobs as an asset to nurture, grow and plan for long term. So if you can’t get that dream job right now, and a lot of people can’t, that’s normal! Figure out how you can get it long term…

I hope this is helpful!!

Hallie Crawford
Atlanta Career Coach

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