4 ways to find a job in the shrinking talent market

Here are four tactics that could help you land the job of your dreams in today’s tight labor market.

A steadily improving economy means that more talented professionals are gainfully employed today than in recent years. As we explained in our June jobs report, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.4 percent after 81 consecutive weeks of employment growth.

This is good news for skilled workers like you, because you'll get more of a say at the negotiating table. It's simple supply-and-demand economics. With more people employed, those with the highest skill levels become more valuable.

Here are four tactics that could help you land the job of your dreams in today's tight labor market:

1. Target your resume

If you were in the market for a new job in 2009, you likely remember how difficult it was to find any open position. Back then, job seekers could use broad, generalized resumes to find whatever work they could. Today, that tactic won't work as well.

You should consider revising your resume for each new job you apply to. Making changes that reflect the job listing will help you make it past initial screening barriers built by automated programs and hiring directors. In an interview with The Star Tribune, career counselor Kay Blassingame recommended using exact phrases from the job listing in your resume. Screening software may look for specific keywords only.

"It is almost impossible to have one resume that expresses everything that you have done," says Vanessa Keenan, Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Financial Division in Philadelphia. "You cannot assume that the person/system receiving your resume knows how one skill may relate to another. Your initial audience may not be familiar with what you do and your industry and are just matching up key words. You may have the experience needed but may not be considered based on not having one term in your resume."

2. Become an active job seeker

A passive job seeker is someone who is already employed but would consider making a switch if a better opportunity appeared. For many professionals, this might seem like a way of life. Sure, you'd like something better to come along, but those chances are rare.

Finding a new job requires almost as much work as a full-time position, which makes it difficult for passive job seekers to move beyond mild curiosity with other positions. However, if you want to make a move in today's tightening economy, you must become an active job seeker.

"Leveraging LinkedIn – joining user groups on the site, connecting with recruiters, and applying to LinkedIn job postings – can be an effective way to go about the job search," says Chuck Martino, Recruiting Manager for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Fort Lauderdale. "In addition, attending professional networking events can be a good way for job seekers to gain exposure."

To begin your search, take at least one hour a day to research jobs in your area and start polishing your resume. If your current position isn't on there yet, it's time for an update.

Developing your professional skills will give you a leg up over the competition.

3. Develop your professional skills

As the economy continues to improve and more job seekers settle into new positions, it might seem like finding a job is easy. Anyone looking for a new position knows this isn't true. While the macroeconomic climate may suggest friendlier environs for job seekers, getting hired still means finding the right match for your individual abilities.

To compete in today's job market, you'll need to develop relevant skills. Taking classes is just one way to develop new talents. Otherwise, consider hitting the library or searching for online resources that can help you become a more accomplished professional.

If you're a programmer, consider learning another programming language. If you're a nurse, go for another certification. If you're an accountant, start a finance blog. Show potential employers that you are proactive and willing to learn.

4. Speak with a professional recruiter

Working a full-time job and looking for another is exhausting, but it doesn't have to be. With the help of a professional recruiter, you can breathe a little easier, knowing someone is on your side. In a tight labor market, a recruiter can build your professional image into a complete package that's attractive to hiring managers.

"Your recruiter will know your audience (who is looking at your resume) and help you to tweak it accordingly to highlight your strengths," notes Ms. Keenan. "Having a relationship with the company also means the recruiter can resolve any objections the client may have based strictly on your resume. Your recruiter will be your advocate in conveying your soft skills that can't easily be expressed through typed words on a page."

"Maintaining an open line of communication is key to establishing a productive professional relationship with any recruiter," says Kendall Smardzewski, Division Director of Beacon Hill's Legal Division in Washington, D.C. "As the market changes, job seekers should keep an open mind about 'out-of-the-box' opportunities. Engaging in a constructive dialogue with their recruiter regarding all opportunities helps to set expectations while focusing on achieving professional goals."

To learn how a professional recruiter can help you find the job of your dreams, contact Beacon Hill today.

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