The Job Search Doesn?t Occur in a Vacuum

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When looking for a job, it's easy to focus in on one factor and identify it as THE reason for success or failure.

We see this often with our job seekers. Some have explained how they'll have no problem getting a federal job because they have veteran?s preference. Others will laser in on the fact that they are a military spouse, saying "no one will hire me because I'm a military spouse."

This focus is limiting, and it can blindside us to the realities of our job search.

The job search includes many variables, and who you are is only one of them. Working to understand the other variables can give you a better perspective and improve your chances of success in the job market.

Understand the national and international economy.

The United States Department of Labor?s Bureau of Labor Statistics puts out a monthly jobs report. While the numbers and information in this report might feel sterile and impersonal, this data is directly connected to employment on the local level. Is the economy growing? Are employers adding jobs? Were there large or small gains in jobs numbers? These seemingly distant facts will all trickle down to your job search.

Additionally, federal policies, global shifts, and international relationships can affect your job prospects. Many of us avoid the news for its negativity but keeping an eye and an ear on the economy can give you a better understanding of what you are seeing.

Understand the industry and its outlook.

What?s happening in your individual industry directly influences what jobs are available to you and when they may be available. We should all be aware of trends in our industry (to stay marketable and relevant) anyway, but knowing whether automation has led to a decrease in the positions in your field or if a new certification is now required can help you to better

Understand how your application will be received.

For some industries, it?s important to understand when hiring seasons occur (and to realize that hiring seasons may vary according to geography).

Understand your local economy and culture.

When I started looking for teaching jobs in South Carolina during my husband?s basic training, I was really surprised when I started getting calls immediately and ten at a time. I?m from Pennsylvania, and it?s usually hard to find a teaching job in Pittsburgh (or at least it was 12 years ago). Furthermore, Pennsylvania students started school at the end of August, while South Carolina started school in early August.

I was caught entirely by surprise due to my lack of knowledge about the local school culture (its calendar and the teacher shortage the state was experiencing). So, I wasn?t prepared to take interview screening calls. I had no idea where I might want to work or how far I might want to commute from the base.

Additionally, understanding the local culture can help you identify companies that are military friendly. We know that many job seekers have experienced unpleasant interviews at times, so it?s important to consider what local companies may be committed to hiring military job seekers.

Understand the competition.

Admittedly, the competition is part of the local culture and area, but it?s helpful to understand not just where you are, but who you?re competing with. Do you live in a saturated market where there are more people than jobs? Is there a variety of people in the area, or is it mostly military and locals? Is it a transient population? How educated is the population, and does the local culture include jobs that fit their goals?

With a general understanding of the forces that impact your job search, it?s much easier to understand how you fit into the job market. Do you need additional certifications, or do you need to up your game in some other way to be competitive? Can you stay on your chosen career path, or do you need to adapt it to the available positions in the region. Are you applying to military friendly companies that will welcome you?

Knowledge is power, and the more you know about those other factors, the better you can strategize in your job search.

It?s easy to blame failure or pin success on one factor (?No one hires military spouses around here.? ?My military experience makes me a shoo-in.?), but the job search and the job market are far more complicated than that. Resist the urge to simplify an intricate situation and learn all you can to find the best solutions to your current employment predicaments.

By: Jamie Boyle