BUFFALO, N.Y. — Federal unemployment benefits to aid people through the pandemic ended September 5, and one Western New York job coach said job seekers are raising their expectations before returning to work.

“With everything opening up, there’s more and more people that are excited to explore,” said Cathy Lanzalaco, a professional resume strategist and executive career coach.

According to the New York State Department of Labor, the Buffalo-Niagara Falls region reported an unemployment rate of 5.8% in July 2021, less than half the unemployment rate of July 2020, which was 13.2%.

As people head back to work, Lanzalaco said her clients are seeking positions with companies who will value their personal time and mental health.

“I always tell people, before you start job searching, think about what’s important to you, both from the perspective of your family life and your work life,” said Lanzalaco.

She added that when times are tough, sometimes it is more important to accept a job that will pay the bills, but in the meantime, keep your resume updated with achievements and good examples of your best work. Above all, Lanzalaco said be authentic.