As we move through the conventions, and eventually move onto the presidential debates, there are at least two things on which both sides can agree: One, we need to create more American jobs; and two, we need to close the skills gap in order to fill those jobs. Neither issue will be solved without a fundamental shift in how we think about and do things. There can be no more "business as usual."
This process will be a long one. Enough jobs cannot be created overnight, and the skills gap cannot be closed with just a quick pinch. But for all the talk of creating jobs and building a skilled American workforce, we often forget that there are jobs available in major industries that still need to be filled right here at home. Recruiters are working tirelessly to review all the resumes that come their way and fill these jobs with the most qualified candidates. But many candidates are frustrated and discouraged by the lack of recruiter response.
So how does a job seeker stand out among the hundreds of other applicants?
Scenario #1: You found the perfect company, but you're not sure how to get your foot in the door. You apply to every open position, hoping that by chance a recruiter will take notice and match you to a job that fits your skill set. After months of applying, you've received nothing more than a few automated rejection emails.
Only apply for jobs that strongly match your skill set. As tempting as it may be to apply to multiple jobs within the same company, especially with the convenience of online apply functions, do not allow quantity to take over quality. Recruiters do take notice when candidates apply for multiple (sometimes dozens) of unrelated jobs, but this can often be misconstrued as not taking the job search seriously. Persistence is a great way to promote yourself as an applicant, but be sure that you are representing yourself in the best and most relevant way possible.
Scenario #2: You applied to a position that matches your professional background to a tee. You feel that you're the perfect fit for the job until you receive an automated rejection email stating that the job had been filled by a candidate whose skills more closely matched the job description.
Review your resume. Often times, candidates who have the right professional backgrounds are not called because their resumes do not accurately reflect their skills. Recruiters who review hundreds of resumes a day look more favorably on resumes with keywords that match the job description. When you find a position that interests you, study the job description and determine which keywords are used frequently and carry the most significance. Then, use those keywords in your resume so that they better describe how your skills and experience match the position for which you're applying.
Scenario #3: You optimized your resume and applied for a few jobs that match your skill set perfectly, but you still haven't received a phone call after a few weeks. The position is still open on the website, so you're confused as to why you haven't been contacted.
Make yourself visible. Recruiters now more than ever are using social media sites to promote jobs and engage candidates. Don't be afraid to log on to a site like LinkedIn and find the recruiters who are working for the company with whom you're applying. A number of larger companies have careers groups on LinkedIn where recruiters correspond with candidates daily. Introduce yourself to the group by posting a discussion about the job or relevant industry news. Next, send a personal message to one of the recruiters and ask about the status of the job opening and your application. The more visible and engaging you are, the more likely a recruiter will be able to recognize and advocate for you.
While it will take a while for us to solve the job crisis and close the skills gap, there are still ways to improve the chances of being contacted by a recruiter for jobs that are already available. By understanding the recruitment process a little better and being stronger agents in their job searches, candidates can empower themselves in the job market.
And empowerment is the first step toward success.