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Looking for a job? Try These Free Resources When Money is Tight
Whether you're looking for a new role or re-entering the workforce, now is the time to begin your job search.
Vaccinations have played a huge role in alleviating the pandemic, which has led state and local governments to lift restrictions on businesses. As a result, there has been a surge in demand for workers. In March 2021, job openings hit a record high of 8.1 million, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Today’s job market is the best it has been in 15 months since the start of the pandemic,” says Mark Beal, an assistant professor at Rutgers University. “Organizations of all sizes are hiring again, and many have more openings than they can fill.”
The pandemic has also opened more opportunities for remote work, and has become the norm for many employers. This broadens opportunities for job seekers, who are no longer confined to their local area to find a new job. It’s become more common to work for a company based on the other side of the country instead of commuting to a physical workplace.
About a quarter of employed workers said they planned to look for a new job after the threat of the pandemic subsided, according to the April 2021 Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey. This creates more movement in the job market and new opportunities for unemployed workers.
“When more employed workers voluntarily change jobs, more positions open up at every level,” says Linda Greenfield, a career counselor, and coach.
With all these new job openings, the current job market is an employee’s market. Check out these free resources and tactics to help land your next job.
Free online job boards
There are numerous job search sites for workers to use when they’re looking for their next gig. Use the one that feels easiest to use, so it’s an efficient and effective use of your time.
“The most effective utilization of an aggregator is a comprehensive one-stop platform that gathers job openings based on the information the job seeker inputs,” Beal says.
If you’re looking to land some work quickly, our partner Steady may be right for you. In the app, users can view thousands of part-time, flexible jobs that are suited for their schedule, experience, and financial goals.
In addition to looking for jobs, members can receive extra cash by trying out services that help with managing finances in between gigs.
Monster and Indeed.com
Both also allow you to upload your resume and cover letter in the hope that employers will find you; you can also set job alerts when the relevant job titles are posted. Still, unless you are in a very high-demand field, you will probably have to take the initiative to fill out job applications, as these sites tend to have many resumes scattered across them.
CareerBuilder has a mobile app as well as career advice. Most of these sites have premium options, but if you aren’t looking to post jobs, you should be able to access some extensive search engine tools for free.
It can be tough to break back into the workforce after a hiatus, a struggle that is all too familiar to parents who have taken a leave to care for their children.
Developed in part to help address this challenge, The Mom Project provides a pathway back into the workforce and strives to connect mothers with job opportunities that allow them to have a successful work-life balance. Joining The Mom Project’s network is free for job seekers, and employment opportunities range from contract to full time, and some may even have options to work from home.
If you are employed, but looking for some side-hustle work, or are a freelancer looking for potential clients, The Mom Project may be a good resource to help you find jobs too.
Networking has long been one of the most reliable paths to getting a job with top companies, or even anywhere. While job search engines can be a helpful resource, referrals and networking can go a long way when it comes to securing a new position.
Best of all, networking is free. Besides time, it does not cost a job seeker anything to leverage their network by simply conducting conversations in-person, by phone, or via Zoom.
Networking meetings can lead to new connections and opportunities. A key part of networking is doing it consistently and proactively.
“Each time a job seeker networks, whether with individuals they already know and have a connection with, or at a career networking meeting with strangers, it will result in advancing their job search,” Beal says.
Today, a lot of networking happens online, often through LinkedIn.
Job seekers can also use LinkedIn Jobs to find positions that match their profile, connect with recruiters, and apply for job openings.
If you take time to develop your network on LinkedIn, it can give you a competitive edge over applicants based on who you know and your preferred location.
“LinkedIn is a great tool to find people at your dream companies to see if you know someone who’s a second-level connection who could introduce you,” Greenfield says.
LinkedIn also offers premium options that can give you additional insights, classes, and allow you to see who has viewed your profile. However, using this service for more than 30 days can come with a price tag, so make sure you can afford it before you opt-in.
Local, state, and regional career networking groups
Other free sources for job seekers to utilize are volunteer-led state or community groups.
Look for groups by industry or profession in your community or state. Many of these groups meet in person or virtually. Group members can share job openings, help with writing cover letters, job search strategies, and connect you with recruiters.
Keep your head up
Aside from LinkedIn Premium, the above options are free, so you have every tool at your disposal to land a new job. The more you put yourself out there and apply, the more likely you’ll hear back and start earning a paycheck again.
For more resources to help get ahead while you’re out of work and strapped for cash, read our blog post on Managing Finances During a Job Loss.
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Mark Beal is an assistant professor of practice in public relations in the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. A veteran of public relations and marketing, Beal is considered one of the leading experts on Generation Z (Gen Z). Beal also speaks regularly on careers, professional networking, and securing employment. The first book he authored, “101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College,” is a guide to help university students make a successful transition from college to their career. Additionally, he co-authored, “Career In Transition,” to assist those who are unemployed. You can learn more at www.markbealspeaks.com
Linda Greenfield is the owner of Essential Career Counseling, a Los Angeles-based career counseling firm. She has a master's in guidance and counseling from California Lutheran University; an MBA from the University of Southern California; is a Certified Master of Career Services, as designated by the National Career Development Association (NCDA); and was awarded "BEST OF” for CAREER COACHING by LinkedIn Profinder.