As news about an apparently slowing jobs market has complicated concerns about a slowing economy, and as global events cause even more difficulty, the future employment outlook may seem as though it’s worsening. And yet, things are more complicated, and far more hopeful, than that. One of the big problems on the employment front is that companies have great difficulty finding qualified workers, according to a recent survey by temporary worker and placement firm Manpower.
A full third of 38,000 companies across 41 countries that the agency polled said they had jobs going wanting for lack of the right talent. A big problem is a lack of specific skills, like IT expertise. The first step is obviously to have the necessary training: a computer technology degree or maybe a masters of information systems. As important as having the right background is, you also need to do more.
A big issue is to make yourself look desirable on your resume, which will often be the first contact you have with a potential employer. That may seem cliché, but, ironically, clichés are one of the big problems, according to Rob McGovern, CEO of Jobfox. When you use phrasing that everyone has on their resumes, you have less chance to stand out and be noticed. Here are the big four clichés that may be sabotaging your job search:
- responsible for
- dedicated professional
- team player
They seem harmless enough, but that’s part of the problem, according to what McGovern said in a Computerworld Q&A. Anyone seriously reading your resume will throw their hands up at such phrases, given that they often are over-used and yet manage to say little. Think about those phrases as though you were hiring someone. Decided professional? You’d hope so. Team player? What would someone say, “I’m an eccentric misanthrope who hates coworkers?” These phrases in particular purport to describe characteristics that all hiring managers would assume prospective employees would need to have. Another killer on resumes is passive language, such as “assisted with” or “was responsible for.” It frames you as someone who is reacting to the world. Better to use active descriptions of your accomplishments: “increased efficiency” or “reduced downtime” as two examples, preferably followed with some numbers that quantify what you achieved.
The more specific about what you made happen, the awards you won, and the recognition you’ve gained are gold for job hunting. Also, be sure that your technical skills are clearly explained, using all the appropriate buzzwords. As the Internet has handed tools to job searchers in their quests for positions, hiring companies have become increasingly inundated by avalanches of resumes. They use filtering programs and databases of resumes to find the people they need. That means technical keywords become more important to display than ever before. Get the language right in your resume, and you’ve given yourself a big boost on the road to a new job.