There's no other way to put it: The job market is competitive. For years, highly talented individuals struggled to find open positions, and now that most organizations have started hiring again, everyone's looking to make a move.
The good news? The workforce has, for the most part, continued to grow every month because there are more opportunities.
The bad news? In its recent 2015 US College Graduate Employment Study, Accenture Strategy found 48 percent of 2013-2014 graduates consider themselves underemployed.
In other words, you can't just graduate and find a job anymore. You need to be prepared. And that means taking time to plan out your career path.
Whether you're early in your college career, starting your senior year, trying to find your first job or thinking about making a career change, today's latest technology can help you make the right decisions for the future.
Everybody is using social media and online job boards to find jobs nowadays, but here are four other ways to use today's technology more efficiently to help you plan your career:
1. Understand your personality.
Your personality is unique. It influences the decisions you make, the relationships you build, the way you react to your environment and more.
When you're planning what you want to do for the rest of your life, it's important to think about how you handle stress, what work environments stimulate your productivity and what kind of tasks keep you the most engaged. That way, you can focus on finding work that will truly make you happy.
Luckily, there are a number of free (or relatively inexpensive) apps and web-based personality assessments you can use to learn more about yourself and what kind of careers you may be best suited for.
2. Learn more about potential career paths in any industry.
Learning about an industry and different potential career paths used to mean doing a lot of leg work. Today, technology shortens the distance between you and the knowledge you need to succeed.
For example, my company's app, PathSource, gives you access to thousands of pre-recorded informational interviews with successful professionals, in a wide variety of roles and industries that may interest you.
Rather than just reading about an industry online, you hear about the challenges you'll face from the people who experience them every day.
3. Network with people who matter in meaningful ways.
They're called social networks for a reason. You can use them to meet new people and make connections. But when you're job searching, they can be so much more.
Social media and job search apps can help you connect directly with the people making hiring decisions, and you can start a conversation with them before the hiring process even begins.
Instead of just sharing content and looking for jobs, participate in industry-focused Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and Twitter chats. Hiring managers and other members of the decision-making process often take advantage of these groups as candidate-sourcing pools.
Be active, and show you have a working knowledge of your target industry. The more you share, the more credible you become. And the more credible you become, the more likely you are to catch the eye of a hiring manager or recruiter.
4. Learn more about your value in the market.
When you're planning your career, knowing where to start is, arguably, the most important step. That means understanding the market and the value you bring to it. Today's latest job search apps help you do just that.
Whether you're just starting out or looking for a change, with today's apps, you can pinpoint the salary level you should be seeking, find out how popular a particular industry is, learn more about the skills companies value and see how valuable your skills are on the job market.
The more you know about how employers value your skills and attributes, the easier it will be to make career-related decisions and negotiate your salary once you've landed a job offer.
Today's job search apps are about more than just finding a job. They've evolved.
Job seekers who take advantage of this evolution and use tech to create an informed, proactive career plan will be the most successful in this competitive job landscape.
What tools do you use to plan your career path? How important has technology been in your job search?