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Surviving the ‘September Surge’: Part 2

A person typing on a keyboard. There are a few things job seekers can do to help navigate the "September Surge" and find a new job, one expert says. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — September marks the start of an increased hiring season for employers. The period between Labor Day and October is called the “September Surge” by career experts.

In part one of this story, I broke down how job-seekers can take care of their mental health during the job search process and ways to ensure they find the best work environment.

Now, let’s talk compensation. Compensation is not just a simple and static number that comes with a job. It is a complex and multifaceted factor that requires careful consideration.

When searching for job listings, don’t just focus on the upfront pay. Instead, take some time to consider all aspects of the compensation package.

Dr. Christina Geiselhart is an Illinois-based licensed clinical social worker who specializes in career, self-esteem, anxiety, and coping skills.

Geiselhart says these are some of the things to consider and make a determination if they are important for you in regards to salary and compensation:

  • Benefits packages such as retirement/ investment matching, paid holidays, paid sick days, paid vacation days, and short-term or long-term disability coverage. 
  • What type of supplies and equipment do they provide for you? Phone, computer, tools, books, office supplies, etc. 
  • Other perks such as a company car or reimbursement rate for travel expenses.
  • The cost of uniforms, if required. 
  • Relocation assistance, if applicable

“When you factor in all of these, along with your pay rate, you can make a list of the potential jobs and do a better comparison than if you just looked at flat pay or salary alone. A great book to check out to learn more about this is ‘The Compensation Solution’ by John E. Tropman,” Geiselhart said.

Geiselhart says these three techniques can help you remain calm when landing a September “Surge” interview:

Know what you bring to the table

“Know what you bring to the table! Think about all your work experience and different skills you have acquired. Make a list of your top skills. Maybe you are a highly skilled communicator, an efficient multitasker, or have certifications from completing specific training. Put everything on your list and then narrow it down to the top 5. This helps you to talk about yourself during the interview.”

Make a list of strengths and weaknesses

“Just like you did with your skills, make a short list of areas you might not be as confident or skilled in and what you are doing to improve in those areas. Typically during an interview, the question will come up about ‘weaknesses.’ If you say you have none, this can come off as you being inflexible to constructive feedback or unwilling to grow and learn. If you are honest about some of your shortcomings employers will look at this as a positive,” said Geiselhart.

Come up with a list of questions before the interview

“Make a list of questions for the employer. Remember that you are also interviewing them to make sure they will be a good fit for you.

Types of questions to ask would include: “What is a typical workday like?“, “What are the turnover rates for this position?”, and “What would training/ onboarding consist of?” During the first interview, you typically do not discuss much about compensation. Some places have you go through 2-3 interviews before they discuss pay so be mindful of this.” 

Hunting for a job can be stressful and frustrating. Geiselhart adds that during a job search, job-seekers can experience stress and anxiety.

Here are her tips to mitigate that during the September “Surge”:  

Make a list of interviews

Keep a list of where you applied, the date, and if you have received any communication back regarding your status. 

Set goals for yourself when applying for jobs.

Think about applying for 2-3 jobs per day or using different search terms to help broaden your scope. Some job sites will allow you to save your resume and applications can be quick and easy while others still require you to complete a formal application. Apply for the easy ones first and then apply for the more complex ones when you have time to dedicate to the application. 

Use your support network in your search.

Let people know you are looking for a new job and see if anyone has any leads to share with you. Knowing someone who already works there can be less stressful than going in completely on your own. This can also save a lot of time. 

Organization is key.

The number one takeaway is organization. Keep your resume updated, create a general cover letter that you can adjust easily if needed, and have a current list of references you can use. 

While job-seekers have plenty of employment options coming their way, Geiselhart says it is important to stay balanced and mentally prepared during the process.