Job Hunters Remain Uncertain but Optimistic

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) –  It’s a new year, but Americans are slightly less doubtful about the job market, according to the jobs counseling firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Results from an annual survey found a general uncertainty among unemployed people about finding a job this year. Nearly half (48%) did not know how much longer the job search would take, the same percentage as in last year’s survey.

For those who have been out of work for more than a year, the uncertainty was even more prevalent, with nearly 60% saying they were not sure how long it would take to find employment.

The survey polled 400 of the 1,500 callers who took part in the counseling firm’s Job Seeker Call-in Advice session held December 27 and 28, 80% of whom were unemployed. This was about the same level as a year ago, when in 2008’s session 76% of callers were unemployed.

In contrast, during the pre-recession 2007 calendar year, only 55% of callers seeking advice were out of work.

“Obviously, there was a lot of frustration in callers’ voices this year,” John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, said in a press release. “Under the frustration, there was sense of optimism, with many feeling that 2011 would be a stronger year for the job market. And that indeed should prove to be the case.”

Nearly one in five callers (18.4%) believed they would find a job in the next one to three months, an increase from the 12% who felt the same way last year. Additionally, only 4% of callers thought it would take another year or longer to find employment, down from nearly 16% of last year’s callers.

The firm says this optimism isn’t unwarranted.

“Planned job cuts have slowed to the lowest levels we have seen since 2000. Private sector employment has experienced 11 consecutive months of net employment growth. And companies are sitting on mountains of cash saved through two years of dramatic cost-cutting initiatives,” Challenger said.

The predictions are in line with other recently released stats on the jobs market. A December survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com found that 24% of employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in 2011, up from 20% in 2010 and 14% in 2009. Additionally, recent job numbers released from the Labor Department have indicated a slight dip in jobless claims.

Challenger warned, though, that slight improvements in the job market won’t necessarily lead to an easier job search. They encourage those who abandoned their search out of frustration to re-enter the applicant pool. Meanwhile those who do have a  job may want to begin seeking greener pastures.

“There are a lot of things people can do to improve their chances of being among those four million new hires,” Challenger said. “The one thing they should not do is simply sit at a computer all day, responding to online help-wanted ads.”

For more ways to improve your odds of scoring a job, check out MainStreet’s 14 extreme job hunting success stories.

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