There is no question that the employment market is tight. Unemployment levels are at highs that have not been seen for generations. While some areas of the United States offer more job opportunities or house corporate headquarters' with more job vacancies available, there is nowhere in the country that does not average at least four applicants for every available position. Job advertising sites are not the only way to go about a search for a new position and many have limited listings as employers pay hefty fees to advertise on these sites and budgets are constricted, everywhere.
Adding to the lack of job opportunities is the change in the types of job vacancies which are available. It is difficult for anyone without education level higher than a high school degree to find work. Those with college degrees, no matter what the level, are having difficulty, too. The types of labor and experience needed by companies which are growing and expanding enough to offer job opportunities are moving away from physical labor, manufacturing, and liberal arts.
Companies investing in new employees are looking for individuals with information technology, research, and scientific education or work history. This leaves generations of people, particularly over forty years of age, with a disadvantage. Although one may have extensive higher education and work experience, computer science was not a frequent general course requirement to obtain a college degree throughout all majors until the late 1990's. If one was not fortunate enough to be in a field where personal computers, Internet, and other IT methods were being introduced and expanded upon, the knowledge gained from on the job training is lacking as well.
Increasing one's adult education can be a costly proposition in today's economy particularly if one is unemployed. However, formal education is not the only way to expand upon what one does have experience with. There are many ways to research and learn through self-taught methods. The internet is a terrific resource in keeping up to date with the latest technologies used in one's field of expertise.
Libraries and government employment assistance offices are loaded with valuable information about today's workplace environment. Government job vacancies and qualification requirements, employment forecasts and predicted economic growth in the region, and free classes introducing computer usage are likely available. In addition, technical help, public computers, and free Internet are usually offered to those without personal access.
Interning and job shadowing are other methods to educate one as to what is happening in the workplace today. Picking up valuable knowledge and experience while watching or assisting someone in their job can excellent on-the-job training. One's consistent presence and interest in the company demonstrates commitment and work ethics which may lead to a job offer down the road.
Volunteering is another way to learn about a field or company while assisting those in need. If one is interested in becoming a nursing assistant and volunteers regularly at a hospital, his or her dedication may be conveyed to department managers who may suggest the volunteer to the human resources department. Many times, employers have their own on-site learning and certification programs that may be offered free of charge. These programs take place while the person is still a volunteer. When certification is successfully completed, a paid job offer is usually awarded.
Networking through word of mouth has always been a great way to let friends, family, and former co-workers that one is searching for employment. With the explosion of social networking, this phenomenon is helping enormously in connecting people and spreading the word that a job search is in motion. Employers use this technology to find former employees in hopes of bringing them back on board or to ask if they know of a highly qualified candidate to refer. Signing up with site such as LinkedIn can get a person who is in touch with five people connected to 2,500, instantly.