Editor's note: CNN.com has a business partnership with CareerBuilder.com, which serves as the exclusive provider of job listings and services to CNN.com.
You've made up your mind. You're going to stop procrastinating, update that resume and (finally) look for a new job.
So what should you expect? Smooth sailing and a fast and easy job search? Or long months of applying to countless jobs and waiting for just an interview?
That depends on a number of things:
• Are you applying to jobs that suit your skill set?
• Is your resume showing quantifiable results?
• Does your cover letter tell the employer why you're the best fit for the job?
• Is it a job seeker's or an employer's market?
In 2007, the job market showed resilience amid economic uncertainties and produced more than of 1.3 million new jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2008, plans for hiring are tracking below last year's projections, but the economy still points to continued job creation.
Employers are taking caution, anticipating the advent of a slower, but still steady hiring environment in the New Year.
CareerBuilder.com's "2008 Job Forecast," conducted by Harris Interactive, tracked projected hiring trends for 2008 surveying 3,016 hiring managers and human resource professionals in private sector companies.
Here's what they found:
• 32 percent of employers plan to add full-time, permanent employees in 2008, down from 40 percent who planned to do so in 2007;
• Just 8 percent plan to decrease full-time staff levels in 2008, while 47 percent expect no change;
• 21 percent of employers plan to increase their number of part-time employees in 2008, down from 23 percent who expected to do so in 2007;
• And, 6 percent plan to decrease part-time headcount in 2008, while 58 percent expect no change.
• In addition, early one-in-five employers report it typically takes them two months or longer to fill their open positions and 40 percent say they currently have open positions for which they can't find qualified candidates.
What does this mean for you, the job seeker?
We've analyzed the data to give you eight ways employers are trying to make sure they attract and retain qualified employees -- that is, ways they can find you (the qualified candidate), get you to accept a job offer, and grow you into a dedicated, hard-working employee who will be an asset for the long-term.
No. 1: Bigger Paychecks
Continuing an existing trend designed to attract and keep top talent, employers plan to offer more lucrative compensation packages in the coming year. Eighty percent of employers report their companies will increase salaries for existing employees in 2008, similar to last year; and 56 percent of employers expect to increase salaries on initial offers to new employees, up from 49 percent in 2007.
What you can do: Do your homework and brush up your negotiation skills when you are ready to talk salary.
No. 2: More Flexible Work Arrangements
Sixty percent of employers report they currently offer flexible schedules to employees and 39 percent plan to provide more flexible work arrangements in 2008 such as: alternate schedules (come in early and leave early or come in later and leave later); compressed workweeks (work the same hours, but in fewer days); telecommuting options; summer hours; job sharing; and sabbaticals.
What you can do: If your salary offer isn't as high as you hoped or your employer can't give you a raise, perhaps you can negotiate a flexible schedule, saving you commuting time and transportation costs.
No. 3: Screening Candidates via the Internet
To ensure they are recruiting the right talent, more employers are leveraging the Internet as a vehicle for screening potential employees. Forty-five percent of employers report they use online search engines and social networking sites to research job candidates and 19 percent say they are likely to start using or increase their use of these resources to research job candidates in 2008.
What you can do: Make sure there's nothing in cyberspace you wouldn't want a potential employer to see. Do an online search of your name. Check your pictures on Facebook and MySpace.
No. 4: Rehiring Retirees
Nearly 30 percent of employers say they are concerned over the loss of intellectual capital at their organizations as a large number of Baby Boomers approach retirement age. Twenty-one percent say they are likely to rehire retirees from other companies in 2008. Another 14 percent plan to provide incentives for workers at or approaching retirement age to stay on with the company longer.
What you can do: If you are nearing or at retirement age but want to keep working, make sure your skills are up-to-date and learn which skills are easily transferred to different roles.
No. 5: Diversity Recruitment
When asked if there is a particular segment of diverse workers they plan to target more aggressively in 2008, employers pointed to Hispanic workers, women, African American workers and mature workers. Almost half of employers said, in addition to English, Spanish is the most important language for bilingual hiring.
What you can do: Make sure to highlight your diversity or language fluency. Search sites tailored to diversity hiring like EmpleosCB.com and CBAAnetowork.com.
No. 6: Freelance or Contract Hiring
Employers are turning to freelance or contract workers to help support business initiatives as they monitor their pace in recruiting permanent employees. Thirty-one percent of employers anticipate working with freelancers or contractors in 2008.
What you can do: Search job boards using keywords like "freelance" and "contract." Put your resume on freelance-specific sites like Sologig.com.
No. 7: More Comprehensive Healthcare Benefits and Special Perks
In light of rising healthcare costs, 19 percent of employers report their companies plan to offer more comprehensive or better health benefits to employees in 2008. One-in-ten employers plan to offer more perks such as bonuses, discounts, company cars, stock options, free childcare, educational reimbursement, transit passes and wellness programs.
What you can do: Keep your benefits package in mind when you are weighing a job offer. Calculate the worth of the benefits available to you and take advantage of as much as you can so you don't leave any money on the table.
No. 8: Career Advancement
Employers are taking action to carve out career paths for employees. One-in-four employers (26 percent) plan to provide more promotions and career advancement opportunities in 2008.
What you can do: Ask about tuition reimbursement and training opportunities. Ask the hiring manager how he or she sees where role will lead in five, 10 and 20 years. E-mail to a friend
Copyright CareerBuilder.com 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority
Matt Ferguson is CEO of CareerBuilder.com. He is an expert in recruitment trends and tactics, job seeker behavior and workplace issues.
All About Worklife