What Employers Are Looking For In Today’s Market Place

After almost a year of fears of a double dip recession and bleak economic landscape, there have been promising signs that the employment forecast is beginning to brighten. Although the economy is not yet in full recovery mode, the recession has begun to loosen its vice like grip. Economists predict that though job creation will remain gradual, the latter half of 2011 will be characterized by steady, measured gains across various industries, particularly healthcare and IT. A recent Careerbuilder.com survey of hiring managers indicate an upward employment trends of more employers planning to hire permanent, full-time employees. The number of job listings is on the rise, companies are making hiring announcements and more hiring managers say they plan to hire permanent, full-time workers in 2011 than in the past two years. Economists surveyed by CNNMoney are forecasting an average of 2.5 million jobs added to the economy in 2011. Now is the ideal time for job seekers to reevaluate their qualifications and begin polishing and streamlining resumes, portfolios and presentations to maximize their potential of landing a job. To help enhance their application and increase the likelihood of snagging an interview, prospective employees and applicants are seeking new, innovative ways their resumes and written presentations can stand out from the crowd. Recruiters are looking beyond the superficial and for applications with depth and substance, so job seekers must package themselves in the most compelling way possible. With today’s ultra competitive job market, hiring managers are pinpointing ways in which the applicant’s background, skills and education distinguish them as the most qualified. Key among this, says Human Resources experts is the targeted ability to sell oneself and to use  how your experiences and skills directly relate to the job.

Rodney Scaife, Chief Human Resource Officer and a former Director Human Resource at  Freddie Mac says Scaife has noticed that seldom used elements such as testimonials and slogans have been incorporated into resumes and cover letters to make applicants more attractive to Hiring managers. He suggests that “applicants include a brief executive summary along with key core competencies, to begin the Resume. This will provide a snapshot and overview of your experience and what you could offer a company as well as display your fit for the role you’re  seeking.”

Though there has been a hiring low down, the federal government is still hiring. Applying for a position within the federal government the process is more rigorous and can be bewildering than in the private sector. But more than catchy resume call-outs, must  meet the professional and technical qualifications or mandatory technical qualifications. Hiring managers, says  Patrina Clark, Chief Human Capital Officer of the U.S. Government Accountability Office, are impervious to pretty resumes, clever formatting and euphemistic skills and experience, and are focused strictly on qualifications.  Clarke explains applicants for federal jobs must first meet the basic non-negotiable criteria of Qualified Better Qualified or Best Qualified, in order to move to the next phase, which is the call back interview. Mandatory Technical Qualification or Professional Technical Qualification zero in on the relevant areas. “Structure and tailor your resume so that it answers those requirements and it screams your qualifications. Highlight accomplishments in a way that stands out to someone who doesn’t know you.” It’s your job Clarke  says, “To make it easy for recruiters to connect the dots between job performance, what you’ve studied and know and how they directly support your qualifications.”  This includes volunteer activities, professional groups and affiliations. Human Resource specialists evaluate resumes based on the specific skills and requirements of the position. Clarke says “The key is to structure your resume so that it is targets and responds to the specifics  of the announcement.  Human Resources must get a strong sense that you understand the organization and the job to which you are applying.” Scaife  agrees, “I also look for the story being told throughout their experiences, job selections, and company selections.  This tells me if the individual is “Managing” their career or simply seeking their next “Job”. 

The job search process and capabilities have changed dramatically because of the tremendous impact of technology and powered by the emergence of social media. Although resumes remains of extreme importance, and a key evolution has been the movement of  most search firms and recruiters toward online sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter to find candidates. Scaife also sees more request for candidates to submit resumes, cover letters and writing samples online via the company website. Scaife suggests, “As you draft your resume, focus on “Key Words” and “Search” terms to insure that your resume will surface when recruiters are establishing search queries for key skills and qualifications for a particular position.”  He stresses that candidates’ failure to focus on  the digital aspect of the process is major reason that most resumes are not surfaced for a position.  

Kevin Carrington, President, DC Chapter of NAAAHR and Vice President, and Federal Practice Leader The Segal Company, a Human Resource and Benefits Consulting firm  says, the ability to illustrate your knowledge and expertise beyond the topical buzzwords. Carrington states, ” In today’s job market, many applicants may have to forfeit a prestigious title to get hired. But, “It’s essential that you indicate in written communications how your skills and experience are transferrable in the environment even if the title is lower.”

Carrington says Testimonials, resumes, portfolios and other written materials should reflect extensive on the job training and experience rather than a novice trying to break into the profession He adds “What jumps out are applicants whose materials show value-added skills and ways they can apply them in the new spot and how you can hit the ground running.”

 The experts also caution, however, that if you’re applying for a position out of desperation or for topical reasons such as perks and befits that will shine through. Each agency is unique with a different culture so Clarke urges job seekers to read the posting thoroughly and carry out due diligence before applying. She concludes, “Resume and presentation should say, ‘I believe you would be hard pressed to find someone better qualified than I.'”


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