Judging from the headlines, the jobs numbers for May were a huge disappointment. Sure, unemployment went back down to 9.7%, but that's largely because thousands decided to stop looking for work – again. And of the 431,000 new jobs added, only 41,000 were from the private sector. The majority of new positions were temporary ones for the U.S. Census, which has just stopped hiring.
Still, don't cue the funeral march just yet. Tig Gilliam, CEO of Adecco Group North America, the largest staffing agency in the world, sees some rays of hope in this month's figures, and offers some advice in a telephone interview with WalletPop:
Fundamentals are improving If problems in Europe are contained, the economy will slowly get better, said Gilliam. After all, 41,000 new jobs is nothing to scoff at. This was not an improvement over the past two months, but it's still better than January and February. Another positive indicator: the average work-week rose again for all workers. "Employers will not hire full time workers until their part-time workers are working," he explained. "Our business has continued to show growth."
The going will remain slow
Expect the recovery to take two to four years. More importantly, expect it to get even worse before it gets better as Census jobs dry up and state and local governments run out of money. "We have to get prepared for the psychology of the second half of the year. Government will be cutting payroll the way the private sector had to 18 months ago," said Gilliam. "The private sector will have to offset those public sector jobs and that won't happen for some time."
"Maybe my expectations are not as high as some of the reactions," he continued. "But we have 145,000 clients and they are still cautious, but cautiously optimistic."
New career paths a necessity for many
Networking and having a killer resume will only get you so far. The problem for a good portion of the workforce is that their positions no longer exist. So they have to acquire new skills, which may mean going back to school. Another tactic is to figure out how their skills can be applied to new industries.
Areas of growth continue to be health care, IT, and engineering because of medical devices and energy. "There is just not enough opportunity to go around" given that 6.8 million remain unemployed for more than 27 weeks, he added. "So you have to step up your game. You have to be relevant to that employer. What is it about you and your experience that will help the company, more than other candidates?"
Employers are more willing than ever to make do with what they have. So hiring is at a glacial pace. And if they can hire, they're more likely to offer their part-time staff those coveted full-time positions. So temping, said Gilliam, is a great way to get your foot in the door and show a possible boss what you can do.
Build on your skills or education
The unemployment rate for individuals with a college degree is 4.7% -- significantly lower than the national rate. If you are able to further your education, this is an excellent way to build your career. Gilliam noted that the jobs that will recover from the recession most quickly are those that are highly specialized and require additional education or training. If a college degree isn't a current possibility, professional classes or certifications are also another way of adding to a skill set that could strengthen your professional qualifications.
When looking at options for a higher degree or training, a bachelor's degree makes the difference in employment rates and earning potential. When choosing a degree, it may be a good idea to research the hot careers of the future, or even the specialties within a field projected to grow within the next decade. Finance is a sector that will rebound with accountancy and compliance expected to produce a significant amount of jobs. Other hot sectors include IT, engineering and healthcare.
If a degree isn't the route you would like to take, certifications or continuing education classes are an excellent alternative. Many industry specific professional organizations offer continuing education credits that can lead to certifications or accreditations. These are a great opportunity to build skill sets while strengthening earning potential and career growth.
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