There are 39 percent more jobs available across the United States than there were a year ago. And there are 4.1 percent more employment openings than just a month ago. That information, from the March US Employment Trends Report by SimplyHired.com, is positive news for job seekers. But just because the jobs are out there doesn’t mean they’re easy to find.
Here are a few tips for finding where the greatest opportunities are, whenever you’re looking for a new job.
Look for low unemployment rates. If your location is flexible and you’re willing to relocate in order to find a satisfactory position, choose which cities to search in by looking at metropolitan unemployment rates. In cities where unemployment rates are high, you’ll obviously have lots more competition for the available jobs. But in areas with low rates of unemployment, you will be one in a smaller pool of applicants, a position that raises your chances of landing a job.
For instance, last month’s Employment Trends Report shows that Washington, D.C. is one of the least competitive metro areas with a 1:1 job competition ratio (unemployed persons to job openings, meaning that there is one open job for every job seeker. “Washington, D.C. typically has a low job competition ratio and steady job openings due to government employment in the nation’s capital,” says Daniel Greenberg, chief marketing officer at SimplyHired.com. The city saw a 3 percent increase in job openings from February 2011, and a 25 percent increase in job openings from March 2010. Other less competitive areas for job seekers include Minneapolis and St. Paul, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Boston, Austin, Baltimore and West Palm Beach. All of these cities have a job competition ratio of two job seekers for every available job.
Consider the season. If you’re debating about what types of jobs to apply for, think about which industries are probably experiencing a surge in activity at the moment, and steer your search toward them. For instance, current employment reports show that the industries experiencing the greatest increases in available jobs over the past month include financial specialists, accountants and retail sales. That’s not surprising, considering February, March and April are usually the busiest months of the year for accountants and others in financial services positions who prepare and file tax returns. Financial specialists and accountants saw an increase in job openings of 41 percent from February 2011, and a 120 percent increase from March 2010.
As for retail positions, there was an increase in openings of 89 percent from February 2011 to March 2011. “Retail hiring for home and garden stores is often strong at this time of the year, as people begin home projects and prepare for summer barbecues, weddings and graduation parties,” Greenberg says.
Look at the whole picture. If you’re looking for job-search clues in employment reports, be sure to examine the entire report and not just one piece of it. That means you shouldn’t just look at the industry report for the industry in which you’re looking for work; also look at the individual jobs. For example, in last month’s report, financial specialists and accountants saw an increase in job openings of 41 percent from February 2011, and a 120 percent increase from March 2010. However, the financial services sector saw an increase in job openings of only 6 percent from February 2011. That simply means that “these positions aren’t necessarily in the financial industry,” Greenberg says. “Businesses across various industries are seeking financial specialists, so job seekers might need to search in other industries to find the right financial job.”