5 Ways Job Seekers Benefit from a Tight Labor Market
Unemployment is at one of its lowest points since decades, with the U.S. Department of Labor reporting a jobless rate of 4 percent in June. While the tight job market is challenging for employers because there are more open jobs than available candidates, it also translates to more opportunity for job seekers. With less candidates to choose from, employers are more willing to broaden job criteria as well as to negotiate up on pay and benefits.
But the onus is also on those pursuing their next position to leverage current market conditions. So here are 5 best practices on how to do just that:
1. Consider jobs that are “out of your league.” With a smaller pool of candidates at their disposal, employers are likely to make concessions on their job criteria. So stop scouring job openings in search of those that are an identical match to your skill set and experience. Instead, consider how your professional background is a strong fit for some job requirements while additional aspects of your work experience and education may either meet other criteria in unexpected ways or simply brings added value to the position. Then make those points in your cover letter.
2. Look beyond culinary and tourism meccas. If you’re willing to relocate, especially if you’re hoping to jump a rung or two on the proverbial ‘professional ladder,’ then consider a position in a location that isn’t renowned for its culinary offerings. That is, the competition is greater in a global locale like New York City than it is in Albany, New York. Secondary and tertiary cities simply don’t attract the same amount of talent as major gateway cities that have an established reputation. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t offer fine dining or locally sourced dining experiences (or a great quality of life for you and your family). So if you’re looking to quickly bypass some of the hierarchy and a new locale sounds exciting, then evaluate offerings in destinations that have a regional, if not an international following.
3. Think beyond job openings. Most of us inherently approach a job search as a quest for the position in our respective fields most closely aligned with our experience and skills. But this is a ‘buyer’s’ market and with 37 percent of National Restaurant Association members reporting in 2017 that labor recruitment was their top challenge – a two percent increase from two years prior – it’s worth approaching companies that you regard as an “aspirational” employer, even if they don’t currently have an opening that fits your professional profile.
Attract attention by expressing interest in the organization in the cover letter, along with a detailed account of what sparked that interest and how you can enhance the group’s reputation and revenue. You may well end up a candidate for a current or future position. Also, investigate relevant networking events and job fairs as well as going into a local hotel or dining venue where you hope to work. While’s there’s no denying the power of technology, it has yet to surpass the personal connection achieved by actual face time, particularly in the hospitality industry.
4. Inquire about future career prospects with the company during interviews. The tight job market is causing companies to cultivate talent internally. So take a cue from Heather Italiano, talent development manager at Aimbridge Hospitality and arrive to interviews prepared to proactively discuss your projected career path over the next three to five years. Ask how you can grow with the company, what training and mentorship programs or other education opportunities are offered to employees and what would be required of you in order to progress your career with the organization.
5. Be sure to ask about benefits and incentive programs. In a competitive job market, job perks are on the rise as employers look to lure new employees and retain current staff. In hospitality, this may mean greater flexibility with hours and shifts, tuition reimbursement or on-site educational seminars. Hotels may offer free or discounted hotel stays for employees and possibly their families while restaurants are likely to include a free meal with each shift. But before arriving to the interview, be sure to do ample research on the business and its employee offerings as many of the large hotel brands feature some of this information on the career pages of their websites.