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Short-term job strategies for long-term success

Updated: January 5, 2012 2:00PM

As the economy continues to look for solid footing in the second half of 2011, job seekers everywhere continue to look for signs of improvement in the labor market. The good news is that even in a market with a stubbornly high national unemployment rate, there are in fact a number of encouraging signs for both passive and active job seekers.
The fact is, most major metropolitan areas are experiencing more hiring activity than one year ago, with the U.S. private sector expanding employment in each month since February 2010. So far in 2011, the private sector has added a net total of 945,000 payroll jobs, with gains in May and June totaling 130,000.
Furthermore, the Monster Employment Index (MEI), a monthly gauge of online job postings in the U.S., rose 4 percent in June and has now experienced 17 months of consecutive year-over-year growth in online recruitment activity. In fact, June was the highest level of recruitment activity since 2008.
As the economic recovery slowly takes hold, communities across the nation are starting to ramp up spending more in areas such as IT infrastructure and healthcare, as well as other areas where they'd previously avoided spending on until now. These renewed investments are in turn creating greater demand for talent and, as a result, more favorable conditions for job seekers as the power slowly shifts in their favor. When you're ready to commit, it will be critical to have a sound job strategy in place so you can hit the ground running.
There are several ways in which you can take advantage of the current labor market to put yourself in a stronger position for when it really begins to heat up. Seeding your network now and targeting those companies on your wish list is a great way to start; one way to accomplish this is through social media channels. In fact, making all of your social media tools work for you is an important job search strategy; whether it's leveraging your online network to expand your job search or merchandising a relevant blog post you've penned, social media can be an effective means both for networking and self promotion.
Targeting companies you wish to work for and building those relationships now is another useful strategy for putting you in a stronger position for when those jobs do eventually open up. Job seekers should also consider getting any necessary training or up-skilling now so they can be in the best possible position to be viewed as "in-demand" when the appropriate job opportunities come to fruition.
According to the most recent MEI, there are several occupations experiencing stronger growth nationwide, including: installation, maintenance and repair (up 27 percent over last year); computer and mathematical (up 15 percent); and, arts, entertainment, sports and media (up 3 percent).
All told, the hiring outlook for the second half of the year holds promise compared to last year, and with the right search strategies in place, job seekers can create a competitive advantage for themselves now that will pay off later. For unemployed job seekers, it means the odds of hearing, "you're hired" are better than they have been in a long time. And for poised job seekers looking to position themselves for a more rewarding or inspiring career as the labor market begins to improve, the time seems right for you - as the best time to prepare for your new job is when you don't need one.
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