Supercharge Your Job Search

Author: Andrew Keshner Source: MarketWatch

The number of U.S. job openings rebounded to a near-record 7.49 million in March after falling to a nine-month low in February, the Department of Labor announced Tuesday. April’s jobs report showed it’s been decades since the unemployment rate was this low, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.

So scoring a new job is practically a lay-up, right?

Wrong.

Sure, the economy exceeded expectations by tacking on 263,000 new jobs in April, but job growth wasn’t uniform. Growth for construction jobs and the white collar and health-care sector was strong, but retail job numbers slipped. Furthermore, April’s 3.6% unemployment rate had at least something to do with some Americans giving up their job hunts.

So employment experts told MarketWatch how to make the most the moment:

1. The devil’s in the digital detail

“The demand is very, very high for individuals with technology skills,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for the international staffing firm Robert Half McDonald has been in the business for 35 years and, overall, “the demand for talent is the highest I’ve seen in my career.”

But here’s one thing he keeps seeing, especially with younger workers who could never imagine a time without internet: Their resumes often fail to elaborate on their digital savvy.

“Don’t assume everyone knows you have the technology skills you have,” he said. For example, that means instead of merely mentioning familiarity with Microsoft get specific on knowing Excel, PowerPoint or even Outlook. Younger workers just assume because they are “digital natives,” the hiring manager will know they’re up to speed on all the latest coding.

It’s also important to go into details because automated job screening systems are looking for certain keywords, he noted. “If you don’t have it on your resume, you can be easily discarded,” he said.

2. Hard results with soft skills

It definitely helps to know your way around a spreadsheet, but McDonald said old fashioned know-how on writing, speaking and handling yourself in a social situation were the difference maker

“The soft skills get you the job,” he said.

With technological advances making all sorts of analyzes of candidates possible with couple of key strokes (see tip No. 1) McDonald said workers are being ”asked to present information, data and findings to peer groups and supervisors earlier. Technology is doing the work, you’re asked to present, verbally, in writing and in person.”

So the more job seekers can play up these kinds of skills, the better. McDonald said that could entail things like mentioning past public-speaking experiences, a writing course, volunteering as a docent whether it’s at a museum, at a university or even at the local zoo.

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