Even though the job market may be full of prospective candidates, businesses are having trouble finding employees to fill senior-level roles, a new study finds.
Research from the Career Advisory Board, established by DeVry University, found that 1 in 5 managers with the responsibility for hiring senior-level candidates indicated that few job seekers have the necessary skills and traits their organization is looking for in a candidate.
Instead of a skills gap issue, Alexandra Levit, business and workplace consultant and Career Advisory Board member, said the problem may be more of a communication issue.
"While job seekers in the market may have the appropriate skills for a position, they simply don't effectively communicate the experience and leadership traits sought by hiring managers," Levit said. "Ultimately, senior-level job seekers are underselling themselves; they're not focused on demonstrating higher-order professional skills like strategic thinking and a global perspective."
The research revealed the majority of senior-level job candidates never get professional guidance while searching for work. Nearly 60 percent of the job seekers surveyed rely on their own experience to decide what information to include on applications, résumés and cover letters, rather than seeking advice from others such as career counselors.
In addition, senior-level job candidates tend to look at how positions can fit them, instead of how they can fit positions. The study found that 66 percent include skills mentioned in the job description, while only 34 percent use descriptions of skills and experiences that can be broadly applied to many jobs.
"While gaps continue to exist, if job seekers more proactively engage in professional development and guidance during the job search, they will be more successful in delivering what hiring managers and companies are seeking," said Madeleine Slutsky, chairman of the Career Advisory Board and vice president of Career Services at DeVry University.
Beyond the immediate need for job candidates to enhance their communications skills, Levit offers several recommendations to boost a job candidate's readiness in today's competitive employment market:
- Get Management Experience:Ensure that you gain team management experience, even if it means volunteering for a position in which you can oversee a committee or an initiative.
- Keep Up With World News:Follow news and events taking place on a global scale. Take any opportunity to learn how business is conducted overseas. This could involve interviewing colleagues in other countries, or even living and working briefly overseas to gain first-hand experience.
- Refresh Tech Skills:It is no longer enough to know how to use a computer and the Internet. Learn the software and get certifications associated with your industry and make sure you're also up-to- date on the latest office applications.
- Consider a Temporary Position:This may or may not lead to permanent work with that company, but you will become well-versed in the skills, traits and experiences required of executives and can practice honing them for future opportunities.
The research was based on surveys of 516 hiring managers and 541 job seekers.