It’s a seller’s market. With the highest rate of job openings in 15 years, a stronger economy means a thriving recruitment market, and, in theory, an easier time finding a job. But if you’re an active job seeker who has been searching for a while, this is little comfort. With 2016 just around the corner, it’s time for a fresh start.

Being aware of these 4 job search trends will improve your career success in 2016:

The BOTS are coming1.) The Bots are coming. I predict we’ll see an increase hires based on comprehensive algorithms. Assessments add science to the screening process. They’ve been used for years, but never to the extent used today. Employers aren’t settling for the minimum; they want employees who stand out, and they’re willing to wait for excellence. Even smaller companies are using low-cost but effective software in their hiring processes.

This means, more than ever, that time spent tailoring resumes and communication for specific positions is time well-spent. I recommend thoroughly researching your targeted position and industry, identifying your audience, and developing a strategy to connect with them.

2.) It will be harder to get interviews. Here’s why:

  • More cumbersome screening processes.  Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) use more forms and questionnaires than ever in order to source the best candidates. This results in more time spent sifting through available information and candidate data.
  • Employers are automating more jobs at the expense of employees. This is all the more reason for job seekers to contribute ample time to a thorough self-assessment process, whether part of career counseling/coaching or not, to understand how their skills and background best fit the targeted position, and communicate that effectively with employers.
  • Employers are afraid of “bad hires.”  Employers say that good talent is hard to find and hard to retain, despite the fact that business seems to be booming.  The result is a tougher screening process often requiring the job seeker to do extensive research and give presentations.

Social3.) Social Media continues to be king.  If you’re still only using social media to stay in touch with family and friends, you’re way behind the game.  The number of social network users around the world will rose from 1.47 billion in 2012 to 1.73 billion this year. In the digital age, employers are using social media, and you should too.

4.) It’s still about who you know. In the past year, we’ve seen an increase in companies offering perks – such as bonuses – for referrals. I expect this trend will continue, as recruiters and HR professionals say that referrals are their best quality candidates.

Job seekers who succeed will

  • Know what they want and why their skills/background is a good match for their targeted position
  • Have a list of organizations they’re targeting
  • Are active in professional development related to their field
  • Have a high level of Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Happy Job Searching in 2016!