Business

November 15, 2013

It’s time to kick job searches into high gear

The fourth quarter is a good time to job hunt, and serious job hunters who’ve been unemployed should get motivated by their jobless benefits’ running out.

The all-important holiday shopping season is something of a gift to job hunters. Employers in the retail, online, warehouse and shipping worlds are hiring.

These may not be career or target jobs. They’re unlikely to be fullt ime with benefits. But the jobs can be a foot in the door for new or long-term job hunters who need income and something to fill a blank spot on their resumes.

Job hunters who’ve been collecting unemployment and delaying searches until after the holidays should re-think their strategies. If nothing else, be motivated by the likelihood that extended jobless assistance programs will end.

About 1.3 million workers who now get federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation checks will lose them in the week before New Year’s unless Congress reauthorizes the program. And don’t count on that.

An additional 850,000 workers will exhaust state unemployment eligibility in the first three months of 2014, with no access to further federal benefits, unless Congress acts. Again, don’t expect it.

There is substantial research showing the imbalance of skills and experience between many job hunters and the jobs that employers are trying to fill. That’s a long-term problem solved mostly by education and training — a huge barrier for low-wage and out-of-work people who can’t figure out a way to afford, much less obtain, it.

The U.S. economy has a job market imbalance. The national ratio of unemployed workers to posted job openings is about three to one. Clearly, the job market is difficult. Employers can’t find the quality of worker they need, and job hunters can’t find a suitable job for them.

But that in no way suggests suspending a job search. This is prime time to take advantage of the fourth-quarter hiring surge. This is also time to get ahead of job hunters who are waiting until the new year to look.

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