3 Secrets to Landing One of the 3.2 Million Current Job Openings

With all the talk of job loss and few prospects for change on the horizon, it might come as a shock to learn that there are currently 3.2 million job openings in the US. While hardly enough to satiate the demand for new jobs, this figure proves that there are jobs available for those who know how to conduct a winning job search.

22% of employers say they can’t find qualified job candidates.

Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true; in an economy where millions are out of work and there are five candidates for every job opening, employers simply cannot find qualified people. Among the many contributing factors (understaffed HR departments, perceived skill deficiencies, low-ball wage offerings) is the increasing number of unemployed professionals applying for any available job opening. The old cliche, “you’re overqualified,” can be translated nowadays to mean “you have great credentials but your background isn’t even remotely in line with our current job opening.”

As many as 95% of resumes are off target. Use this to your advantage by targeting companies and jobs that you know fit your background. Sure, it’s okay to push the envelope every now and then and apply to jobs that are beyond your current credentials, but the majority of jobs you apply to in today’s job market should to be near-perfect matches with your background and skills.

Tip: Want to stand out in today’s job market? Show employers how you match their needs and that you can add immediate value.

It takes up to 4 months to fill an opening.

That’s right, lots of companies are eager to hire new workers. But shrunken HR staffs are so overwhelmed with off-target resumes that it’s taking more than a full quarter to fill advertised jobs.

Use these four months to bolster your competitive advantage. Research and get to know the companies you apply to. Find out their needs, opportunities, challenges, and market motivations. And finally, get to know the people who influence hiring decisions. Most job seekers fail to understand and exploit the opportunities that are out there. Start impressing hiring managers with your knowledge of the company, its market, its customers, and its culture. Use the four months it takes to make a hiring decision to sell yourself (over and over and over again) as the right fit.

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Hint: follow targeted companies and key influencers on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay-in-the-know and to create a dialogue with individuals who can help advance your career.

Poor performance.

Not on the part of companies or the economy, but on the part of job candidates. This one hits close to home, but it’s the fastest way to improve your job search outcome. We all know that we can add value to an organization but, whether on your resume, through your LinkedIn profile, in your tweets, or during your interviews, we’re failing to deliver a message of value. We are failing to perform when we most need to perform.

Improve your job search performance by getting to know an employers’ needs, getting to know what truly separates you from others in your field, and creating a clear and compelling message that you can deliver immediate value (i.e., Return on Investment). Only when you have a clear understanding of what a company needs and can properly align it with your specific background and skills, can you define and articulate a clear message of value. Know that most job candidates have only a vague understanding of their potential impact on a company and use this knowledge to your advantage.

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