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Be a Competitive Candidate in a Robust Job Market

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 7/03/2016 Caroline Dowd-Higgins

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Unemployment is dropping as the economy continues to recover from the Great Recession but careerists must be well prepared to be competitive for top positions. From resume preparation to networking strategies, the job search has changed significantly and understanding the new normal is essential for your success.
CareerCast.com, created by Adicio, is a job search portal that offers extensive local, niche and national job listings from across North America. They compile the Jobs Rated Report, where 200 jobs across North America are ranked based on detailed analysis of specific careers factors.

"As the unemployment rate drops and more people find jobs, there is still competition for the best positions," says Kyle Kensing, Online Content Editor, CareerCast. "Even with a rosier employment outlook, applicants need to be prepared for job market competition, particularly for the high-paying positions with a positive outlook that everyone wants."


Here are strategies for success from CareerCast combined with my own career development wisdom to ensure that you are successful in your job searching or career reinvention this year.
Unconventional Resumes - A graphical resume can grab a prospective employer's attention aesthetically and demonstrate skills and experience. A personal website can function as a resume and also give hirers an example of the candidate's abilities. Lead with your achievements and not the laundry list of all your experiences. If a hiring manager can't see your value-add after a 10 second glance, it's time to go back to the editing process. It's essential to illustrate what you can do for the prospective employer instead of just providing a history of what you've done.
Leave Your Comfort Zone - A willingness to take risks and do what feels uncomfortable is essential in the job market. 2016 is an ideal time to move out of your comfort zone and get assertive in your job hunt and becoming more aggressive requires leaving conventional channels. By all means utilize online resources to find opportunities but in-person face time with influencers will allow you to be seen and heard by people in a position to hire. Get out from behind your computer and communicate face-to-face!
Network - From an HR perspective, the No. 1 source of new hires continues to be employee referrals. Professional groups and industry meetups are good places to network with employees, but Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and even Snapchat provide easily accessible outlets for connectivity. Twitter's hash-tagged chats are an inviting and easy one to get your foot in the social media door with like-minded pros. Don't forget to regularly check who is viewing your LinkedIn profile since this provides a perfect opportunity for you to circle back and offer more information to employers who are trolling for talent via this professional site with 350+ million members.
Payment Expectations - Know your worth and research what comparably skilled employees make at your experience level and in your region. The BLS, PayScale.com and job postings, such as those found on CareerCast.com, can help prepare you. Don't be caught off guard when a prospective employer asks for your salary expectations. With advanced research you go into the negotiation process empowered with salary data that will help you earn what you deserve.
Research - Position yourself to show you can hit the ground running. Demonstrate that you can fulfill the requirements without a great deal of training. Know the expectations of the job from current employees and go into an interview prepared to show your stuff. Savvy recruiters hire for potential so if there are a few requirements in the job posting that you don't have significant experience in, like software programs, etc. - start studying now with online tutorials and the myriad of resources available to quickly prepare for the new role.
Respect - Attitude still goes a long way in the job search. You may be looking to leave one employer for another, but highlight the positives of your current and past employers. Candidates who talk down of a former workplace may well do so of a new employer. Top candidates have heightened emotional intelligence. You can teach most people new skills but the "no jerk policy" is alive and well in the recruiting arena. Being a generous, supportive and collegial co-worker is highly desirable so be ready to treat everyone with dignity and take the time to earn respect from others in the new work environment.
Enjoy the benefit of a robust job market and be the best candidate by preparing yourself for the opportunities you seek. Empower your network with your strengths story and get out from behind your computer and play the recruiting game in person so you can be seen and heard.
It's a great time to get hired and I'm cheering you on all the way!
Caroline Dowd-Higginsauthored the book, "This Is Not the Career I Ordered" now in the second edition, and maintains the career reinvention blog of the same name. She is Executive Director of Career & Professional Development at the Indiana University Alumni Association and contributes to Ellevate Network, CNN Money, and the British online magazine - The Rouse. She hosts the online series,Thrive! about career & life empowerment for women and hosts the international podcast series Your Working Life- check it out on iTunes. Follow her on Facebook,LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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