Jul 06, 2018

7 Tips for Job Seekers to Overcome the Skills Gap and Take Advantage of the Tight Labor Market

By Allan Brown, Senior Vice President at TempWorks Software

In my role with TempWorks Software, I work with top staffing companies all over the country. With more than my 20 years of experience in the staffing industry, these are what I think potential employers are looking for in job applicants.

What is the skills gap?

First, this is what I mean when I talk about overcoming the skills gap. Employers have a certain checklist of criteria for candidates that they’re looking for, ranging from years of experience to specific training or certifications. If you don’t meet all of those qualifications, then you might not even get an interview. Luckily for job seekers out there right now, the low unemployment rate and tight labor market means that job seekers have an upper hand in today’s job market. Companies and recruiters are beginning to evaluate their checklists to see if it’s an absolute must-have or just a nice-to-have.

Here are my tips for job seekers on how to stand out as a candidate in today’s job market:

1. Highlight your potential rather than specific training/experience.
Make sure that you’re emphasizing your transferable skills rather than focusing too much on specific training or previous work experience. For example, if you have a history of great organizational skills but may not have specific experience with project management. Make sure you showcase how those skills will easily transfer over to many different types of positions.

2. Don’t underestimate the appeal of excellent soft skills.
Are you reliable and great team player? Do you have a positive attitude and get along with coworkers well? Specific trainings and certifications are not the only ways that you can shine during the interview process. Many recruiters are looking for the right cultural fit with the company or team rather than just looking for specific hard skills or experience.

3. Don’t shy away from temp jobs.
Temporary positions can be a great way to get your foot in the door and get some hands-on experience in a new industry or specialty. It can also be a great way to test the waters, so to speak, before diving into a new career. There are some really great staffing agencies out there that will work with you to get you a position and to help you evaluate the right career path.

4. Be on the lookout for free on-the-job training or for affordable training programs.
Depending on the area that you are looking to get work in, many staffing agencies or other organizations might be able to help you receive free or low-cost training so that you have more opportunities for placement in different industries.

5. Clean up your resume and tailor it for each position.
If it’s been a while since the last time you updated your resume, then it’s probably time to dust it off. Your resume should be tailored to the positions for which you’re applying. Take a look at the job posting and try to insert the same skill sets or experience into your resume if it’s applicable to your previous experience. This makes it easier for recruiters to check off their list of criteria and increases your chances of getting an interview.

6. Practice for your interview (out loud).
Interviews can be awkward. A lot of people don’t like talking about themselves, which is why it’s important to practice your responses out loud to potential questions. The more you practice, the smoother your responses will be and the better impression you’ll leave with the recruiter. Just don’t forget that your responses should still be natural and sincere. Remember that you’re having a real conversation with a real person so it’s ok to have a real and genuine conversation with the recruiter.

7. Have questions about the position? Ask them upfront at the interview.
It’s always good to have some questions about the position or company during the interview because it shows the recruiter that you’re genuinely interested in the position and have done your research. In addition, getting a job is a two-way street. The company wants to have a productive and hard-working employee that will get the job done. As the employee, you also need to make sure it’s right for your personality and lifestyle. The interview is your chance to get some of the answers that you want to know in order to make sure it’s a good fit.

Good luck and happy job hunting!

About Allan Brown

Allan Brown brings more than 20 years of experience in the staffing industry leading large staffing companies that utilized software to streamline process and facilitate growth. As Senior Vice President, Allan’s previous experience as a leader at several temporary staffing agencies will help TempWorks to align its technology development and client relationship management strategies to optimize support for client growth.

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