Where the Jobs Are

Originally Posted Online: Oct. 06, 2011, 2:42 pm
Last Updated: Oct. 06, 2011, 2:58 pm
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By Dawn Klingensmith CTW Features

Having trouble landing a job even though you’ve applied “all over the place”? Perhaps that’s the problem.

Rather than vying for positions that don’t quite match your skill set – “it can’t hurt,” is the jobseeker’s refrain – you might be better off spending the time and effort on schooling or training to meet all the requirements for those jobs. Narrowing your focus and identifying jobs that align with your skills and talents may increase your chances of connecting with an employer.

In such fields as engineering, information technology, sales and skilled trades, a jobseeker can stand out simply by possessing the necessary skills to do the job. Organizations in the U.S. and beyond are looking for “ever-more specific skill sets” in these and other areas, and they are having difficulty finding the talent they need, according to the 2011 Talent Shortage Survey by the Milwaukee, Wis.-based workforce solutions firm ManpowerGroup.

ManpowerGroup surveyed nearly 40,000 employers across 39 countries and territories in the first quarter of 2011 to gauge the impact of talent shortages on the global labor market. It found that one in three employers is having trouble filling positions due to lack of available talent, a three point rise over 2010. Employers are more likely to report difficulty this year than at any point since 2007, even though high unemployment rates might suggest there’s a glut of talent.

This year, “We asked what impact this has on business, and the bulk of people, 69 percent, said the fact they couldn’t find the talent they needed either had a high or medium impact on business,” says Melanie Holmes, a vice president at ManpowerGroup.

But what does it mean for jobseekers?

“If you have in-demand skills, you ought to be able to write your own ticket, with the caveat that you have to be in the right place at the right time,” says Holmes, adding that upside-down mortgages are affecting worker mobility.

However, the talent shortage in certain fields is so pronounced, employers might allow a qualified individual to telecommute. “It puts jobseekers who have the skills in a strong position to negotiate,” Holmes says.

Globally, 22 percent of employers say their applicants lack the technical competencies or “hard” skills needed for the job, and 15 percent cited candidates’ lack of business knowledge or formal qualifications.

All told, approximately 75 percent of employers globally cite a lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the primary reasons they have trouble filling positions.

The most difficult jobs to fill globally due to lack of available talent are roles for technicians, sales representatives and skilled trade workers, which topped the list for the fifth year in a row, followed by engineers and laborers. In the U.S., the top five hardest-to-fill jobs are skilled trade workers, sales reps, engineers, drivers and finance professionals.

“The notion of a talent shortage is true for very specific sectors but absolutely not true across the board,” says Daniel Greenberg, chief marketing officer of Simplyhired.com, a job search engine that aggregates more than 5 million job listings and publishes a monthly employment trends report. Its data show that skilled workers are in “high demand” for technical, engineering and computer jobs.

This year, ManpowerGroup expanded the survey to examine what employers are doing to address the talent shortage. The answer: not much. One in five is concentrating on training and development to fill the gap, and 6 percent are working more closely with educational institutions to create curriculums that close knowledge gaps.

Only 10 percent of employers appointed people who lacked the job skills but had the potential to develop them. So while applying for a job that’s a bit of a stretch could result in a job offer, odds are against it.

Jobseekers who do have the necessary skills should make sure their résumé matches the job description. It’s not necessary to try to stand out with an unorthodox presentation; in fact, it might work against you, says Greenberg.

“I’m always surprised by number of people who break out of the box and do unique résumés,” he says. But if you have what it takes, conforming to the standard format makes it easier for a recruiter to see at a glance that you’re worthy of consideration.

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