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How the “Great Resignation” Can Advance Your Career

With more than 10 million job openings today, opportunities are abundant for job seekers to take the next (or first) steps in their careers. Contributing to that figure is the “Great Resignation,” in which a record number of workers are voluntarily leaving their positions.

Unsurprisingly, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks with our 2021 Talent Retention Report, in which 3,948 employees shared whether they quit their jobs, why those who left did so, and what would convince them to stay at their current posts.

Nearly a third (31.4%) of employees in our survey admitted to voluntarily leaving a job in the past year, a 6.5% increase from 2020. With so many opportunities on the market, the question becomes: How can candidates utilize this record turnover to their benefit?




How to Benefit from the Great Resignation

As workers continue to change jobs or switch careers, employers are left with vacancies to fill – and in many cases, they need to fill them as soon as possible. That means companies will quickly jump on qualified applicants, which gives you the chance to land that dream job faster.

However, you’ll need to make the extra effort to stand out from the pack. Although the sheer volume of job openings is promising, high turnover and unemployment rates mean a more crowded labor market. Consider these seven job search tips to leverage the Great Resignation to find your dream job or make your next career move.  

1.    Do Your Research

The number of job opportunities out there gives job seekers leverage to be more selective of where they work – it’s a candidate’s market. Benefit from the Great Resignation by thoroughly researching companies and job opportunities that truly interest you; don’t settle for whatever you can find. Doing your homework ensures that the place you commit to matches your values and aligns with your career goals.

The internet is awash with information about any company and their workers, so take the time to learn about them before applying. You may also discover that an employer is experiencing high turnover rates or has amassed a collection of negative online reviews, which will make you think twice before applying.


2.    Focus on Quality Over Quantity

Among the best job search tips is emphasizing quality over quantity when it comes to applying. It is tempting to blast out as many resumes and cover letters (*cough cough*) as possible with so many openings, but doing so at the expense of your resume and cover letter’s quality will only harm your efforts and add frustration to an already stressful process.

The number of applications you should send out per day varies, but a good rule of thumb is to submit two to three job applications per day. Regardless of the number you settle on, maintaining quality application materials is paramount to stand out and benefit from the Great Resignation.


3.    Move Fast, but Effectively

Employers have a lot of jobs to fill, and they are under pressure to do so as soon as possible amidst an overwhelming workload. Act quickly on job postings that appeal to you. When we say to act quickly, that does not mean to rush through and click “submit,” but to be ready to pounce on opportunities when they become available.

Being fast on the draw involves more than getting your application sent out at lightning speed; it also means being responsive and proactive during the entire process. Ghosting is an issue for both employees and employers, leaving each party waiting to hear back from the other. Responding as soon as you can conveys an eagerness for the job and can move you to the top of an employer’s (crowded) list of candidates.

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4.    Make Your Resume ATS-Proof

Another piece of career advice is to create a pristine, updated resume that gets you through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) (and onto a real person’s desk). Customizing your resume with the right keywords is, well, key.

The initial resume evaluation is a time-consuming endeavor, and it bears repeating that employers are looking to fill several positions as quickly as possible. Having a resume that cruises past the automated process saves a hiring manager time and is yet another way to stand out.



5.    Don’t Forget the Cover Letter

While getting your resume through the ATS is imperative, a good cover letter helps you stand out during the Great Resignation. Nearly two-thirds of employers believe that a cover letter is important in their hiring process, so take the time to write a good one even if a job posting says it’s optional. Cover letters allow you to tell a story about yourself, highlight soft skills that don’t appear on your resume, and show how you meet an employer’s requirements. They also allow you to craft the narrative about yourself of your employment history and proactively answer questions that may come from your resume.

Bonus tip: A cover letter should not be your resume regurgitated in paragraph form. This is an easy way to get your materials tossed aside by a hiring manager.


6.    Maintain and Build Your Network

We live in a referral world, as over 70% of employers use word-of-mouth recruiting in their hiring efforts. Any time you have a contact within a company whose job you are applying for, you increase your chances of getting an interview. And, the Great Resignation offers an excellent opportunity to connect with people who are leaving or have left a job – they may be able to refer you to their employer to fill their vacant (or soon-to-be-vacant) role.

The Great Resignation is also a good time to request informational interviews with prospective employers in industries or with companies that interest you. Although an informational interview isn’t likely to land you a job right away, it can put you top of mind if the company you speak with has to fill an open role in the near future.  


7.    Know Your Worth and Advocate for It

Repeated employee surveys from iHire have shown that offering better pay is critical to keeping employees from leaving. Salary is one of the driving factors in the Great Resignation, as 70.9% of our Talent Retention Report’s survey respondents said they would leave a job due to unsatisfactory pay. The leverage, again, is in the candidate’s favor – today’s employers must offer competitive pay to convince employees to join their team or stay with it.

The Great Resignation is your chance to push for a higher pay. Be ready to advocate for yourself by having a salary range in mind and be prepared to negotiate that figure during your search.

Follow these steps to present the best possible version of yourself on the job hunt and use the Great Resignation to your advantage. Good luck!

by: Chad Twaro
November 16, 2021

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