How to Think About Your Job Search in a Softer Job Market

For a while, following the lockdowns and layoffs of COVID-19, the job market exploded. Companies hired faster than they had in years, and candidates swam in offers.

Today, the job market has softened to a more normal pace, which may cause anxiety for those interested in finding a new position.

If that’s you, we have good news.

The job market may not be as hot as it was in 2021, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to start a search. What it does mean, however, is that you’ll need a different mindset to succeed.

For instance, your approach to searching will differ depending on your underlying reasons. Maybe you’re actively looking for work after being displaced from your job, or maybe your search is more passive, but you hope to find a company that’s growing faster than your current one.

Active and passive job searches have very different needs and require different approaches.

The Active Job Search

If you’re actively seeking a job in a soft market, you may be feeling nervous, uncertain, or even hopeless. You need to find a new opportunity quickly.

First, let us reassure you. This isn’t 2009 — there are opportunities available. People are getting jobs.

However, the best approach here is to be realistic about your constraints and the limitations of the current market. This isn’t the time for opportunistic job hunting; you need a viable position and income now.

For example, because you need to get back to work quickly, you don’t have time to explore every option on the market. You may not find a position that checks every box on your wishlist, so balancing your expectations is key.

In addition, keep in mind that now isn’t a good time to make a big shift in your career, especially if you’re in senior leadership. Leverage the skills you already have to find a new position in a company you want to work for. 

Finally, resist the temptation to take a permanent position quickly while continuing to search for something better. Leaving a job after only a few months kills your credibility. A better option is to fill the gap in your employment with consulting or contract work until you find a permanent position you can commit to.

The Passive Job Search

A passive job search doesn’t include the urgency of an active search because you already have a job — but one that isn’t satisfying you, for one reason or another.

Whether you’re feeling unfulfilled or unchallenged, frustrated with slow growth or a difficult boss, or curious about whether better opportunities await, now is a perfectly reasonable time to start a job search. The softer market may not present an abundance of amazing opportunities, but you can still find plenty of good ones to consider. And remember, it only takes one.
Infographic: How to Think About Your Job Search in a Softer Job Market

The important thing is to align your expectations with market realities to avoid frustration and disappointment. The following tips can help:

Have patience. Patience is key to transitioning to a new position in a soft job market. It takes longer to find the right position, especially for senior roles.

Know your motivation. In a soft job market, knowing the root motivations for your search will help you find the right fit. For instance, looking for a better match in company culture or location is an excellent reason to explore the job market.

On the other hand, the grass isn’t always greener at another company. Boredom or fear of missing out on a hot market aren’t strong reasons to make a big shift. Make sure you’re clear about the problem you want to solve, or you may find yourself back at the start of another job search.

Be realistic. While many people still expect a salary increase in this market, sign-on bonuses and astronomical salaries are unlikely. This is also not a good time to pivot too much from your current role or industry. Companies are interested in what you already know how to do, not in training you to do something new.

Things to Keep in Mind During Your Job Search

Exploring a soft job market can be daunting, but don’t panic. The first thing you need to remember is that there are opportunities out there for you. People are getting jobs in this market, and you can make a successful transition.

Whether you’re in an active or passive search, remember that a little flexibility goes a long way. A softer job market means less chance of finding the exact position you want, so prepare to prioritize and focus on the characteristics that are most important to you.

No matter the job market, if you’re ready to make a transition, BVOH Search & Consulting is ready to help. Get in touch to start your job search today!

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