Listening in a Chaotic Job Market

Large companies are hiring. So are smaller companies, but smaller companies struggle to be seen in a flooded landscape. Big companies have the budget to promote their job vacancies on a grand scale through many channels, while smaller companies find their job opportunities buried in search results.

Exposure doesn’t always mean better.

Sometimes the loudest message overpowers others, but amplification doesn’t necessarily mean more significance. It’s the difference between hearing and listening. Hearing (noun) is defined as “the act of perceiving sound.” Listening (verb) is defined as “giving or paying attention.” Two words, seemingly similar and sometimes used interchangeably, yet so different. Hearing is about biology; how the ear picks up sound vibrations. Listening is about seizing what is heard, making sense or assessing those sounds, and then, taking some action.

Listening is an often underutilized skill when it comes to job search, especially when things are active.

There is a lot of noise in a chaotic job market. It’s easy to get distracted by it. Job boards are packed with listings. Some have already been filled. Some may never have existed. Most postings don’t share why the job is open. Some companies hire to combat turnover. Other companies hire to support growth. Every company promotes itself as an employer of choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s your employer of choice.

In a candidate-centric market – when available opportunities exceed available talent – shrewd candidates whether actively seeking new jobs or passively exploring, recognize the need to capitalize. They understand they have value, and conditions are ripe for career advancement. They’re cunning. They have the confidence to explore new opportunities and decide for themselves if other options are just other options or if they are better options. It’s called leverage, and for now, smart candidates have it.

Listen to those in the know.

Find influencers whose messages resonate with you. There are many experts, gurus, and specialists generating content. You don’t need a formal mentoring program to enhance your skills. You don’t need to physically attend an industry conference to follow hashtags and watch live events. You don’t have to talk with the CEO of a company to learn about company culture. Listen to employees. Listen to executives. Listen to entrepreneurs. Gain perspective.

Review your contacts, connections, and followers. Seek out people with a positive outlook. Create a short list of the people you respect and trust the most. With each person, acknowledge something specific that he/she taught you. Share – with each individual – how you were impacted, professionally. Ask each how they are being affected by workforce trends. Listen for themes.

Contact an industry recruiter. Most agency recruiters have established relationships and have specialized knowledge related to the overall market, companies that are hiring, and the compensation associated with available (and hidden) job opportunities. Open the door to conversation. Avail yourself to on-going discussion. Build a relationship with a recruiter. Listen, always.

Better opportunities do exist, but you must be open to receiving them. Listening isn’t an obligation or commitment. It’s an investment in your career. Listening is learning whether the job market is calm or chaotic, and knowing your place in it.  Ready to listen?  Start HERE.