Cracking The New Job Market: What Job Seekers Are Doing Wrong

job search effectivelyThe sad truth for many frustrated job seekers today is that they're going about searching for employment the wrong way. Just as the notion of lifetime employment with one company belongs to bygone era, so do many of the tactics that job seekers use to search for a good position.

So what are employers looking for? First and foremost, they're less concerned with where you've been than where you can take their organization. It's a concept that author R. William Holland calls "creating future value."

Rather than focusing on capturing career highlights on a resume or extensive networking with people face-to-face, Holland argues in his new book, "Cracking The New Job Market," that job seekers need to uncover the qualities and assets important to prospective employers.

Demonstrating your value to potential employers is just one of seven rules for getting hired in today's (or any) economy that Holland details in his book. Others include: using social media and other websites for job leads; and strategies for staying in a job while also raising a family.

AOL Jobs recently spoke with Holland about the current job market, how it's changed and what job seekers can expect in the future:

Q. The book is written for professional, white-collar workers looking for employment. But are there lessons for other, less-skilled job seekers as well?

A. Yes. The main thesis of the book is that the world of work as we know it has changed and is changing. And in order for you to find employment today, it is important for you to develop a new mindset. And if you don't develop that mindset or if you go trying to use traditional tools, you're going to be frustrated. The truth of the matter is that the white collar job market, and otherwise, is getting so competitive that the best you can do right now is be more competitive.

Q. Is increased competition for jobs the sole reason searching for a job today bears little resemblance to that of just a few years ago?

A. There's a couple of things that have happened. One characteristic of the new job market is that it's going to be increasingly competitive. That's No. 1. But No. 2, companies are in a desperate search for people who can do one thing -- you have to be able to add value to their enterprise. And if you can't do this, they're just not going to hire you.

Q. Is jargon, such as "value creation," a roadblock for many people in embracing the change taking place in the job market?

A. I think there's a population of people out there ... who just don't understand it. Your first responsibility when you are looking for a job, isn't to tell people that you're looking for work-life balance -- to tell people that you've done a lot of different things before. It's to figure out what the employer is trying to accomplish by filling the job for which you are an applicant. Unless you do that, you're just out of luck.

Q. For years now, many employment experts have advised job seekers to "follow your passion" to achieve career success. But you say that in today's job market, passion isn't enough, why not?

A. Passion's not enough for a couple of reasons. One is that the person that hires you is more interested in what you're good at than what you're passionate about. They want to know that you can add value to their enterprise. Now, if you happen to be passionate about something you're good at and want to do, that's terrific. But guess what? That's not 99.9 percent of us. So I suggest to people, rather than worrying about your passion, worry about getting good at something.

Q. In "Cracking the New Job Market," you also note that today's job market is different for women than it is for men. Why?

A. It's different because women -- starting out as professionals, especially -- can count on a hiatus from work if they want a family. It just comes with the territory. And while there are men that experience extended leaves of absence, the truth of the matter is that it's more commonly expected and experienced on the part of the women. So that makes the whole career path for women a lot more difficult. The whole notion of getting on a [career] "off-ramp," which happens, and then getting back on an "on-ramp" needs a lot more attention.



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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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