This month we will examine how the pandemic in the labor market has changed the dynamics of looking for employment as well as how Jobs for Veterans State Grants (JVSG) staff can help with the American labor shortage.
The labor market continues to thrive – the Department of Labor (DOL) reported that the unemployment rate slid to a two-year low of 3.6 percent in March[i]. As such, one might think that finding a new or better job in this labor market would be a quick, no-fail process. However, the ease of applying for jobs online has made it nearly impossible for recruiters to manually sort through the hundreds or even thousands of applications submitted online, leading to the rise of reliance on software screening to help with the process.
For military veterans, who have always faced the obstacle of translating the skills they developed during service to nonmilitary jobs, submitting resumes to software screening is not ideal. Applying through online forms removes the opportunity to provide additional explanations or context to their resumes, exacerbating an already difficult challenge. Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program (DVOP) specialists can help veterans overcome this hurdle by providing individualized career services that guide veterans on how to best apply their veteran skills and help them match their experience to the right employer. DVOP specialists can also offer guidance on best practices for following up on job applications. Hiring managers are filling multiple open roles at a single time, and it isn’t unusual to wait several weeks before hearing back after applying. This in mind, it is suggested that applicants wait at least a week before following up with the hiring manager; any sooner might send a message of unrealistic expectations of a hiring manager’s schedule.
Virtual networking has also been a tricky transition for many to make. Before 2020, networking was done primarily in-person – attending events, meeting up for coffee, etc. Now, two years out from the pandemic, in-person events have been slow to return, and most connections are still made online. Learning to network virtually is a key skill that can enhance one’s ability to procure and progress in a job.
Try out these tips to improve your virtual networking skills:
- Make it personal – When you reach out via email to make an introduction, aim to make a connection (e.g., a mutual acquaintance, shared military service, etc.). If you don’t personally know the recipient, check their LinkedIn profile to see what commonalities you share. You’re far more likely to get a response if the person you’re contacting feels like you are reaching out to them specifically rather than sending a mass email.
- Polish your social media presence – Social media offers many different platforms to connect virtually. For example, Twitter allows users to connect and follow others and engage in conversations that highlight personal strengths. LinkedIn, a popular resource for recruiters, allows one to publicly present their career profile, highlight accomplishments, and engage with other professionals. To ensure your first virtual impressions are positive, make sure to update your photos and delete any potentially offensive content that would concern an employer. DVOP specialists can assist job-seeking veterans in revising their profiles and connecting with job recruiters.
- Try a new approach – Email isn’t the only way to reach a hiring manager. You can send messages to hiring managers on LinkedIn. If you notice that a hiring manager uses their other social media accounts in a work-related aspect (e.g., identifying their employer in their profile, posting about their job), you can try sending a direct message to those accounts too.
The ever-shifting labor market, with baby boomers retiring, falling immigration numbers, and declining labor force participation, among other factors, leads experts to predict that labor shortages in the U.S. will last for some time. Though employers are actively looking to hire, searching for and obtaining a new job still requires persistence and creativity to land the perfect job. DVOP specialists are available to support job-seeking veterans, helping them set realistic expectations for the current labor market and navigate through the waters of the new virtual hiring world.
[i] U.S. Department of Labor, accessed March 6, 2022: Employment Situation Summary – 2022 M02 Results (bls.gov)