By: Samuel Martin, Staff Writer
The years 2008 and 2009 changed what we've always known about job searching and the job market. A dip in demand and a suffering economy due to mismanagement within big banks and on Wall Street along with the war in Iraq, employees across a wide spectrum of industries were being let go from positions they held for decades. With thousands of Americans looking for work that simply wasn't there, the idea of looking for a job had to evolve in order to match the needs of the current job market.
In the old days, people would search for jobs by adequately fulfilling employer requirements. Applicants weren't as scrutinized then since opportunities were more in abundance as the economy still allowed businesses to thrive. What you were on paper stating what you know was enough. Now, you have to prove what you can do with what you know and be able to translate that onto paper. Essentially, do you have the experience to back up your claims that you know how to the job?
According to Jamie McNeile, former HR director at GenenMedia, applicants don't have or know how to get the skills that employers are looking for. And on the other side of that, employers are holding out for a candidate that may be too good to be true. With the job market in such dire conditions, employers don't expect anything less than the perfect match. They don't want to expend valuable company time training a new hire that could otherwise be used productively by one that knows what to do from day one.
McNeile also added that the shift to online job searching has led to job seekers practicing some bad habits. Applying online allows job seekers to fire off resume after resume from right where they are. The problem with having the tempting "Apply Now" available is that many will forego doing any research thus not getting any calls. It's up to recruiters to sift through the onslaught of resumes and applications but this usually results in both parties losing out.
To better match the position to the candidate, some employers are putting candidates to the test asking them to perform similar tasks that they would need to do in the position in question. One extraordinary example McNeile provides is of an applicant whose only work experience was as cashier. Unhappy about what that mean for his future, he taught himself how to use Photoshop and applied to the kind of job he really wanted. Even while on paper he may have been completely unqualified, he was able to prove his abilities when given a task.
The main things that job seekers need to remember about job searching in this day and age is that it's no longer about just saying you can do something on paper. Employers want to know that you can show what you tell. Getting the best of both worlds--that is, having the academic degrees to prove that you really do know what you're talking about coupled with the proven ability to use that knowledge--is a combination most hiring managers expect. A winning personality on top of that is what all hope for.