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Even though employers' job postings and interview processes might be all over the map, and oftentimes not that effective, many hiring managers and leaders still know what they're seeking. And while hard skills are important, employers usually lean to candidates with soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, emotional intelligence, problem solving, professionalism and more. Emphasize these skills on your resume—and more importantly—in your interviews. The good thing about soft skills is that they're often on display in natural conversations and situations, such as interviews.
In addition to soft skills, focus on your career accomplishments, as opposed to hard skills. There are a million hard skills, many of which can be learned—and need to be learned with changing conditions and technologies.
Focusing on your accomplishments (awards, contribution to the bottom line, process improvements, quality of work, quantity of work, etc.) makes you more appealing to prospective employers. They assume that if you're capable of said accomplishments, then you obviously have or can acquire the necessary hard skills.
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The talent shortage means employers have to work harder to stand out and earn the attention of skilled professionals. Don't be surprised to see some changes compared to your last search, and don't be afraid to hold recruiters and hiring managers to a higher standard. Here are three specific changes that you may notice:
For some companies, that will translate into a hurried process. For others, it may mean that a job posting you browsed a month ago is dramatically different today. It doesn't mean a bait-and-switch is on; it probably just means the company is experimenting with a new approach to attract better talent more quickly.
Does the job description focus more on the day-to-day duties or the big-picture responsibilities of the position? Does it delve into specifics about the company's goals and mission, or is it vague and mysterious? Companies trying to attract talent from small talent pools often utilize unique job postings. If a description is far too detailed and implies you'll need to be a superhero, keep scrolling. And if a description is so vague that you don't even understand the role, keep scrolling again. You'll eventually find postings that resonate.
If you're being interviewed more times than you were told, but you don't feel any closer to an offer, make it a priority to pursue other opportunities. Every decision maker may not be supporting the potential hire, they may be questioning your cultural fit, they may be using the interview for their own interviewing practice, and they might even be mining for competitive information. Expect two interviews, and maybe a third in certain instances, but beyond that can be questionable—questionable enough to continue your job search.