For years, the job market had been tight. Many job seekers were suffering through work each day, unsure of their alternatives. They weren’t prepared for unemployment, and there didn’t seem to be any other jobs out there for them.
Today, however, all signs indicate the job market is looking up. Our national unemployment rate, hovering around 4 percent, has been lower this year than in any of the past ten years. This situation is forcing companies to fight a little harder for the best candidates.
If you’ve been unhappy in your current job, now is the time to look at your options. For many industries, it’s a job seeker’s market.
Before you rush out to find a new role, however, you should focus your energy on three specific areas of your job search:
1. Polish Your Resume
Updating your resume before you hit the market will ensure you’re ready to jump on opportunities as soon as you find them. If you get stuck, ask for help. Close friends or family members are often happy to help. Be sure to include quantifiable results and proofread carefully.
2. Work on Your Talking Points
When you begin talking to people in your professional network, you will need to be able to explain your goals. Write out a brief elevator pitch you can use to respond to the popular request, “Tell me about yourself.” Think through the reasons you’re looking for work and what you’re looking for. Be clear and specific. Practice on a close friend, or record yourself and listen back. You should not have a conversation about your job search until you’re able to speak confidently about the type of opportunity you are looking for and what you have to offer.
3. Update Your LinkedIn Profile
Check everything from your photo to your work experience to your contact information. Take a close look at your URL, too. If it’s not customized, now’s the time to update it. Be sure to check out the “Jobs” tab, where you can indicate to recruiters that you’re open to opportunities.
Once you have these three things prepared, it’s time to begin. If you have a tough time finding opportunities in your area, consider where you may have flexibility. For example, are you open to doing the same job in another industry? Are you open to doing a new job in the same industry? Are you willing to move to a new market, where there may be more jobs?
Whatever you decide, don’t wait. The time to act is now. If you’ve been unhappily punching the clock every day, the low unemployment rate is your signal to start your search.
A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.