Since the election, a host of employers have announced major hiring plans. Amazon pledged to hire an impressive total of 100,000 workers over the next 18 months. Wal-Mart said it plans to create 10,000 retail and 24,000 construction jobs. The Japanese telecom conglomerate SoftBank promised to make investments in the U.S. that will result in 50,000 jobs over the next four years. Several major companies including IBM, GM, Ford and Lockheed Martin have announced substantial hiring plans as well.
With the country at a low 4.8 percent unemployment rate right now, the scramble is on for quality talent. Employers will be doing as much as they can to identify well-qualified hires and retain these people once they're in the door.
For you, this means that employers will be recruiting aggressively and using new tools and technologies to research job candidates and determine whether they're good fits in terms of both skills and workplace culture. In such a tight job market, it also means employers will be working hard to limit turnover and keep key employees happy.
Here are three ways you can get ahead of the hiring surge and position yourself for success.
Job References Will Loom Large – Get Ready Now
At SkillSurvey, we've learned through scientific research that when employers take a more strategic and technological approach to reference-checking, they typically see a 35 percent reduction in first-year turnover. (First-year turnover, in other words, is when people leave the company within their first year of working there.)
This is a really big deal for employers. To understand why, let's look at an example. Assume company X averages a fairly typical 10 percent annual workforce turnover rate. If it's hiring 100,000 people, that's about 10,000 people it can expect to leave within a year. But if company X uses better job reference information, it can cut that figure down by 3,500 employees. That translates into millions of dollars in savings plus a happier and more stable workforce.
What does this mean for you?
It means that because reference checking has significantly advanced in automation, analytics and value, companies will be asking more frequently than ever before for reference information.
When applying for jobs, have your references ready and make sure they're prepared. You should have several of them to call upon – not just two or three. That way, you can spread the love around when you're in the running for several potential jobs at the same time.
Your references should know what position you're applying for – and you should have a good sense of what they're planning to say about you. This kind of upfront preparation can go a long way.
Make a Point of Talking About How You've Helped Others
Employers are increasingly putting a premium on collaboration at work. The value of the team only really comes across when individuals are pulling together in the same direction. In today's workplace, you will almost definitely be asked to work in teams, often switching among various teams – maybe even several times throughout a typical day.
So, throughout the interview and hiring process, don't make the mistake of solely talking about yourself and your accomplishments. While these points are important, you should sprinkle in plenty of examples of how you helped your teams perform more effectively. Employers will be listening.
You Can Afford to Be More Selective
It's a seller's market for job seekers right now – in contrast with even just a few years ago when we were still emerging from the Great Recession. Don't be afraid to take your time, ask questions and do your homework.
The recruiting and interviewing process can go both ways. You are checking out your potential employer just as much as they're assessing you. Delivering a positive experience for job candidates throughout the hiring process – even for those who are not ultimately hired – is something that employers are devoting more energy and resources to than ever before.
If a prospective employer doesn't seem to care about your hiring experience – beware. And keep in mind that in today's frothy job market, another good opportunity may not be far off.
By Ray Bixler