With a little planning and effort, you can make significant progress in your job search this month, attracting new opportunities and converting promising leads. But to be successful in these endeavors, you need to know what to expect so that you can get ready to adjust to the current and often-turbulent job market trends.
If you are launching or continuing a job search in February, here’s how you can focus your efforts to continue to make traction and achieve your goal of getting a new job in 2021.
1. Create a sustainable routine so you can outlast your competition
By February, many people that set out to get a new job in 2021 are already losing steam.
While January is an obvious time to launch a job search, as you are often propelled by the optimism for a new year, it is also one of the hardest months to get noticed in. The candidate supply is at its highest while many organizations are only just beginning to open up positions and rethink their hiring needs.
And it’s fair to say that this January’s job market took the dynamic to new heights, as US unemployment rates continued to stagnate, and new job openings were spotty.
However, the situation will begin to shift in February when many job seekers, especially those who are already employed and who have a more passive approach to their job search, begin to lose steam and refocus on the demands of daily life, often allowing their job search efforts to stop completely or go cold.
You will have an edge if you can outlast these applicants and stay committed to your search in February and March, which is why having a sustainable job searching routine is so important.
Forget what you’ve heard about making a job search your full-time job, and that you should spend up to 40 hours a week on it. While that much time might be possible at the very beginning of your search, it is certain to become unsustainable when you run out of people to contact and when the only jobs you’ve yet to discover are the ones that opened that very day.
Trying to spend this much time on your search will only lead to an overall sense of discouragement and dissatisfaction. There might not be new jobs to apply to every day, and there is a big difference between effective job searching and desperate refreshing of websites or scrolling through contact lists.
You need to stay focused and persistent during your job search, but you also need a sustainable routine that includes meaningful distraction to keep you from climbing the walls. Set aside time this month to assess if your job searching activities are fitting into your overall life, impacting your energy, or if you are reaching a point of diminishing returns. Your job searching routine should include a specific amount of hours set aside for focused search, time to authentically connect with your network, and breaks to do things that you enjoy and that sustain you.
If you make adjustments to your job searching habits early enough in your process, you will stay more consistent in your efforts, which will greatly increase your chances of success.
2. Position yourself to capitalize on pent-up demand
Nobody has a crystal ball that tells them exactly how the economy will twist and turn this year, but there is a growing sense that pent-up demand for hiring will start flowing into the job market this spring.
Assuming the vaccination rollout helps get the economy back on track or at least shows promising signs that we are headed in that direction, it could be the busiest Q2 for hiring in years. And while that may not immediately make your February job search any easier, there are things you can and should do to make sure you are able to watch these trends so that you will see opportunities as they emerge.
In some industries like technology, this acceleration of 2021 hiring needs is already evident. But for other industries, you will need to pay close attention to how the full reopening of commerce is creating new customer needs and transforming businesses.
It’s fair to say that no viable and growing business is going to be operating in 2021 as they were pre-pandemic. There is great potential in this for anyone that wants to take their career in a new direction, because change always creates the need for new skills and roles to be developed in an organization, and almost all business will be restructuring and changing in some way.
No matter what skill set you have, make sure you are clear about how your talents can help an organization restructure, manage change or pivot into new areas of growth. Individuals that have these skills are the most sought after right now and will continue to be in the months to come.
Start now to reframe the way you share your expertise around change management and let your network know that you excel in shifting work environments. Strive to embed those themes into your résumé, how you tell your career story and in your interview preparation. By repositioning your skills and your brand, you will be able to attract and quickly capitalize on new roles as they begin entering the market.
3. Prepare for setbacks and build resilience
If you need to plan for the jobs that are coming in the spring, does that mean there is no hope in finding a job in February? The answer to this is no. You might very well find a new job this month or shortly after and never need to plan for a longer search.
But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to be flexible and prepared for a variety of scenarios. Sometimes the least favorable timeline is indeed the one that materializes and that you will need to manage through.
You should plan for a long job search even if you won’t end up having one, because should you find yourself needing to wait for the right job, you don’t want the vulnerability and disappointment of the process to drag you down so that you aren’t able to put your best self forward when the time comes.
Even the most experienced CEOs question themselves during a job search. Nobody, no matter how talented and accomplished, is exempt from feelings of vulnerability. Having to convince people who don’t know you that you are competent, valuable and that they should want to work with you every day, brings back all the old fears from being chosen for a team on the playground. You want to know that your peers deem you as a strong player and an asset to their group.
This month, you need to create the space to plan for how you will seek out support and build your resilience throughout your job search. Think about how you will address the real and valid feelings that can be triggered by unanswered outreach, cold, automated rejection emails or coming in second place for a job you really wanted.
It’s a tricky balance to maintain the hope and optimism that will propel your search forward while also adjusting your expectations so that the common and universal pitfalls of a job search don’t catch you by surprise or feel overly personal. You will land a new and better opportunity if you stay committed to your process, and that requires resiliency so you can weather the setbacks.
Overall, this February is still a great month in which to further your job search momentum, especially if you are prepared to ride the wave of uncertainty that every job search presents, and to adjust both your mindset and process.
Kourtney Whitehead is a career expert and author of Working Whole. You can learn more about her work at Simply Service.