When you try to assess the state of the economy, you can quickly find yourself confused and not sure what to think. On one hand, you have the employment rate, which seems to have only taken baby steps downward but is significantly better than it was a couple of years ago. Then you have the amount of new jobs added to the economy each month, which was been on a steady rise for the last year. Yet, while we can point out the many reasons to be optimistic about the current state of job growth, what matters is whether or not job seekers are successful in their searches.
Fortunately, a new CareerBuilder survey suggests that job searches are improving, particularly for recently laid-off workers. Of surveyed workers laid off from full-time positions in the last year, 59 percent already found new positions, a 4 percent improvement over last year. Fortunately, 90 percent of these workers found new full-time jobs, and 10 percent found new part-time jobs.
Opportunities in unexpected places
As we saw with the mass layoffs during the Great Recession, all industries do not weather the economy in the same way. The financial industry went through a rougher patch than health care and education did. As a result, workers realized their best chances for employment might not be in the same industry they had been working in for their entire careers.
According to the survey, 60 percent of laid-off workers who found new jobs found them in a new industry. In 2010, only 48 percent of workers said the same, a sign that workers are broadening their job searches and repackaging themselves for employers.
"Over the last few years, we've seen workers, out of necessity, cast a wider net and discover new career paths they may never have considered pre-recession," says Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder. "New talent is flowing in and out of industries as workers apply their skills sets to new occupations."For some workers, that means taking their existing skills and looking elsewhere. For example, someone with legal experience might have been laid off from a law firm, but now they can look to major corporations or even the government, as every organization needs legal counsel.
For other workers, their job search requires a different kind of reinvention.
The role of education and certification
When the economy was at its worst, many workers returned to school in order to gain new skills, whether that was a refresher course or a new degree. For some industries, however, an additional degree isn't as important as being certified in your field. In IT, for example, having a liberal arts degree won't be as attractive as relevant experience and certification. One such program is Cisco Certifications for IT networking careers. Here, technology workers of all experience levels are able to improve their skills in network security, routing and switching, design and other in-demand fields.
"Certification meets the needs of IT professionals by allowing them to gain valuable resources and skills necessary in the work place, then validating those skills," says Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, vice president and general manager of Learning@Cisco. "Certification validates skills necessary for various job roles. Certification also provides a competitive differentiator for employers."
And for workers in today's job market, standing out in a crowded job market is a primary goal. Another benefit, and no less important to most workers, is the financial prospect of certification. Beliveau-Dunn points out that workers with these technology certifications usually receive some of the highest salaries in their respective fields, which isn't surprising. For workers in all industries, an extra line on your résumé denoting your proficiency in a sought-after skill - a training program in public speaking or certification in teaching - often allows you to negotiate a better salary because of the extra qualifications you bring. When you're bouncing back after a layoff, and even if you're not, any chance of increasing your paycheck is always welcome.
The reality for laid-off workers
The survey also found that laid-off workers haven't just found new jobs in the last year, many have relocated to help their searches and some have also seen an improvement in salary.
Here are some of the other results from the recent survey:
- 31 percent of laid-off workers were hired back by the employers who laid them off
- 23 percent of laid-off workers not only found jobs in the last year, but also received higher salaries than in their former job
- 63 percent of laid-off males workers found full-time jobs; 50 percent of women reported the same
- Workers 25-34 are most likely to land a new job, while workers 55 and older are the least likely
- Of laid-off workers who found new jobs, 33 percent relocated to a new city or state
- 34 percent of laid-off workers who haven't found a job are open to relocating
For more results from the survey, read the full release here.