by Nicki Woods, Site Administrator, PA CareerLink Suburban Station

Getting back into the job search habit can be challenging, no matter the reason. We sat down with PA CareerLink’s Nicki Woods to get the story on everything you need to know in 2017:

Q. What are the “soft skills” needed for a job search?

A. So many times we hear employers say, “if the person has good customer service skills, smiles, wants to work and is reliable we can teach them the rest”. They’re also looking for good work ethic and the ability to work with diverse groups of people.

Q. Has anything changed about the basics – resume?

A. Resumes need to be tailored to the particular position. You could have 10 postings with the same title, but if you look closely there’s something unique about all of them. There are particular skills in each posting that are slightly different. Those skill differences need to be in the resume. As a result, jobseekers need to have multiple resumes. The resume should have a Skill Summary vs. an Objective. The Skill Summary is one of the first areas of the resume that will get the attention of employers.   

Q. How about the cover letter?

A. It’s important that the cover letter include the position you’re applying to and the relative skills you possess that are a match for the position.   Interview process? Jobseekers need to practice telephone and panel interviewing techniques. They also need to understand that although skills (hard and soft) are important, employers are also looking at your personality and how well you’ll fit within their teams and workplace culture.

Q. Is the economy really better?

A. I believe it is. It’s still very competitive. The question is, are the skills getting any better? I think we continue to have a mismatch in the City of Philadelphia.

Q. What can people do when they see others getting positions and they’re not?

A. First self-assess and ask, what positions are they getting? What skills did they have to get the job? What skills do I have? Are my skills still relevant? Do I need to re-invent myself or re-tool? If so, what am I going to do about it and when?   

Q. Is January-February the best time to job hunt?

A. If you’re out of work, anytime of the year is a good time to look for work. Opportunities present themselves all the time. The question is, are you ready?  If you’re out of work looking for full time employment, job search has become your new full time job. 

Q. There are so many places to get information anymore: Internet sites, job clubs, school alumni networks – which is best?

A. In my opinion, networking yields higher results. We all have a network and we network all day every day not realizing that we’re doing it. You never know who knows who. Wherever there’s information on job opportunities, take advantage of it. How do you sort good information out? It’s all good information. Some might be beneficial to someone else.

Q. What’s the first thing someone can do to get a “fresh start” in job hunting?

A. First, clear your head. If you can, take some time to figure out your passion and what you’re good at. Think about it, your previous managers or supervisors have told you in your evaluations. You can also ask your network their opinion. Those results will lead you to your future. Know that as you self-managed yourself while employed, you still have to self-manage while looking for work. Have a daily schedule to job search. Take advantage of all of your resources, in particular those at PA Careerlink. Know that it’s a process re-entering the workforce. It’s also a good opportunity to invest in yourself  – professional development.  Remain steady and patient. As Steven Covey says, “Sharpen Your Saw”.  

Q. What’s the deal with side gigs? I hear they’re a big thing these days…

A. Everybody has to eat and pay bills. Side gigs, temp work, volunteering; will all keep you positive, keeps your skills sharp and it’s experience to add to your resume.  

Q. I’ve never applied online to a job. Should I?

A. Absolutely! Jobs are posted online every day, all day.

Q. I’m getting back to the workforce in 2017…what’s changed?

A. As a jobseeker you need to be knowledgeable about the labor market. What are the high priority occupations and what are the required education and skills? Know your industry of interest. Know the company you want to work for -what they do, how they do it, what are their challenges/problems, who’s their competitor and what’s important to them.

Get more expert information on the Job Search in 2017!

Posted in Blog JEVS Program: Career Strategies