by Gary Lachow, Job Development Specialist, JEVS Career Strategies

Q. What jobs look to be hot this year?

A. Companies are looking to hire individuals that can positively impact their bottom line and boost profits. Sales jobs are hot, especially for those individuals who have documented accomplishments selling products or services either to consumers or business-to-business. Many of these jobs pay commission only but top sales people can sometimes earn more than 100k if they are willing to work without a predetermined paycheck.  Companies are also looking to hire individuals who can strengthen their brands’ presence in the marketplace. Therefore, individuals with Marketing backgrounds coupled with documented social media successes are in demand. On the non-profit side, people with Grant Writing/Development experience can obtain multiple offers by having the ability to obtain monies to fund important programming that is dependent on incoming resources.

Q. What are positions that employers are seeking to fill in this region?

A. Employers are looking to fill many types of jobs this year. These include administrative assistants, accountants, customer service, computer programming, engineering, leadership positions at non-profits, and many more.

Q. What skills are needed to fill those jobs? What can job seekers do to keep current or get those skills?

A. Regarding technical skills, updated computer skills continue to be key in opening the doors to many employment opportunities. Proficiency in Microsoft programs is critical to gaining entry into many jobs, not just those traditionally associated with computers. In addition, as mentioned above, individuals who can have strong social media skills can parlay their accomplishments into high paying jobs. Finally – grant writing and the recording of donations via programs like Raiser’s Edge help differentiate candidates from others seeking fundraising positions. To gain these skills, individuals are encouraged to earn certifications or knowledge through low-cost trainings located throughout the Delaware Valley or even volunteer at a position that will enable you to learn these skills while making contacts at a willing organization.

Soft skills which employers state are just as important for individuals to possess to obtain a job and retain one, include: trustworthiness, punctuality, customer service skills and overall likability.

Q. Should I apply to jobs online?

A. Individuals conducting a job search should definitely apply to jobs online. However, many individuals spend the majority of their search using this method when it is probably the least effective. These days many companies require you to fill out an online application. Other times you see the perfect job for you when looking at or other popular web-based job boards. Two simple rules: if you are going to apply online, try and use or other networking methods to find someone at that company to follow up with to ensure the company received your resume and cover letter so you are just not applying into a black hole. The general rule is 25 percent of your time should be spent applying to jobs online and the rest attending networking events, participating in informational interviews and drafting targeted letters to specific employers and recruiters.

Q. Is the economy better?

A. Despite a steep decline in the unemployment rate, the economy has not really improved dramatically – especially for our clients. The number of high level paying jobs, over 100k in salary have increased as has the number of entry level jobs. However, middle level jobs have actually decreased over the past 12 months with stagnant wages. This has made competition fierce for these positions. Some employers are also turning full-time jobs for one person into two part-time jobs to avoid paying benefits. It’s possible that some are turning to temporary positions to meet their needs, because they aren’t able to commit to permanent work.

Q. What can people do when they see others getting jobs they are not?

A. I’d always recommend that an individual meet with a career advisor to determine where they are falling short in the hiring process. Together, the applicant can determine if their resume is action-oriented and contains accomplishments, instead of job responsibilities. Also, cover letters need to be re-read to ensure that they are being tailored to the specific position that is being applied for – and leaves the reader feeling interested in the client’s skills and experiences and their potential ability to contribute to the company. Individuals must also practice – before their interview – to take a step beyond the competition. Recording yourself answering “tell me about yourself questions” and practicing stories to answer questions in a memorable way are critical. Fortunately, career service teams can help with this! Finally, individuals must make sure they are following up after an interview and sending a “Thank You” – because even today, only 20 percent of individuals do so.

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Posted in Blog JEVS Program: Career Strategies