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4 Hard Truths About Today’s Job Market

By Joyce Bethoney on

It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped. - Tony Robbins

Looking for a job isn’t easy. Even in the best of circumstances, a job search can be time-consuming and overwhelming. I speak with candidates every day who are confused and frustrated by the process. Keeping things positive is part of my job. However, exploring the harder truths about a job search can sometimes be helpful as well—even if they’re not easy to hear.

Taking time off will impact your career.

If you take time away from your career—raising kids, caring for an aging parent—you will likely find it challenging to “jump back in.” Particularly at the place where you left off. This may sound obvious, but it comes as a surprise to some (not all) candidates. The longer you’ve stepped away from your industry, the more you must acknowledge that others stayed on—gaining experience, staying current on technology, keeping skills sharp. There are countless benefits to taking a professional hiatus, but don’t be surprised if, when you’re ready to reenter the workforce, peers with more recent, relevant experience are tapped first.

What to do: If possible, keep one toe in the water. Even if you leave your full-time role, consider ongoing project work, part-time or contract. If you want to stay in your industry without losing momentum, the most important advice I can give is stay relevant, stay working. Otherwise, you’ll likely start several rungs back when you return.

There is such a thing as too much experience.

I hear from some candidates that they fear they aren’t getting jobs because they’re too old. Most of the time, they’re barking up the wrong tree. If a job description reads 5-10 years’ experience and you have 20, it’s unlikely you’ll get an interview. Companies are wary of hiring someone for a junior or mid-level role who appears to be capable of doing the job above it.

What to do: Be realistic in your search. If a job is well below your experience level, keep looking until you find a better fit.

Your commute can improve, but often at a cost.

My company recruits for marketing and advertising clients in the Greater Boston area and Rhode Island. If you live here, I don’t need to tell you, the commute struggle is real. This proves to be one of the biggest frustrations for jobseekers in this region. And there are simply more, often higher-paying jobs, in urban areas.

What to do: Move, make peace with the commute or adjust your expectations. If you live in the middle of nowhere and want a higher paying job, it’s likely to be in the city or close to it. Determine where your commute falls in your list of priorities. If it’s at the top and moving isn’t an option, enjoy the beautiful surroundings of your small town, find work closer to home, but know that your paycheck may be less.

Recruiters are paid by hiring companies.

It is my intention to help place jobseekers and partner with them in their search, but at the end of the day, it is my client, the hiring company, who I ultimately work for. My job is to provide candidates to the company based on their criteria. And if our candidate is selected and accepts an offer, it is the company that pays my firm.

What to do: As a jobseeker, know that a recruiter is a critical tool in your search, but not someone you are paying to find you a job. Working with a recruiter is a smart way to extend the reach of your network and put yourself in a position to be considered for more roles, including ones you may not have known about otherwise.