What’s your brand?

This might be a weird question for job seekers. But these days, especially with the rise of social media, it’s something every job seeker should spend time creating.

Basically, everyone should be ready with your “elevator pitch,” so if you run into someone who can help you, you’re ready on why you’re someone who should be hired, said Elizabeth Craig, president and master career strategist at ELC Global. Once you’ve got your pitch, you need to find ways to develop that brand on LinkedIn and through networking opportunities.

In many ways, job seekers are in the driver’s seat. Many companies in Minnesota and around the country are reporting worker shortages.

Unfortunately, uncertainty comes with the new dynamic, and career counselors said job seekers can’t let their guards down. They have to work just as hard to differentiate themselves from other candidates.

Ask job counselors what to expect as far as the job search process in 2016, and they’re likely to shrug their shoulders. It depends, they say.

“It is very hard to generalize about this. It depends on how crucial a position is and how hard it is to fill it,” said Lisa Cook, a career development specialist who runs the website Plan B Connections. “If there are many well-qualified candidates or not enough qualified candidates to interview, or if it is a government position, it can take longer to fill.”

In other words, manage your expectations. On the downside for those out of a job, an attractive job market has current employees itchy, looking for new opportunities. Jobvite, which provides career intelligence, surveyed potential job seekers this fall and found 50 percent see their jobs as a placeholder; 45 percent would jump ship for a better opportunity even if they are happy with their current job.

Before the fall, a rhythm had developed in the marketplace, where it might take more one-on-one interviews, a few more months of back-and-forth, even some silent periods before a company made the offer. In other words, people had to wait it out and keep the lines of communication open.

Now, some companies are feeling pressure to make the offer within a few weeks so candidates don’t land somewhere else, especially if it’s a skilled position, said Carmen Croonquist, president of the Minnesota Career Development Association.

Not all companies or industries are there, though, and human resources departments at many companies are still thin from the recession. In those cases, it might take longer to properly screen candidates.

In other words, stop scouring the Internet ads and take a week to figure out what your goal is for a job (your mission statement, so to speak) and then assess what you need to get there, Craig said.

Craig and other career coaches said job candidates should work on their personal brand, their LinkedIn accounts and get outside their comfort zones to meet people who can help them land their next job.