This post was written by Angie Jones, an award-winning, dual-certified Resume Writer and Career Coach, on behalf of the Happy Grad Project. Although the Department of Labor just announced that hiring has returned to the 2008 pre-recession levels, the news wasn’t quite as optimistic for this year’ college graduates. Unfortunately, those graduating this spring are going to find the job market more competitive than ever. Related: HIRE ME! 7 Tips For Getting A Job After College Justified or not, poll after poll shows that many hiring managers find it easier to leave jobs unfilled than take a chance on a new college graduate. Why? Because hiring managers believe that many of today’s graduates are inadequately prepared for the workplace. Studies show employers are concerned that candidates lack soft skills such as communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration - all of which are necessary to successfully navigate the business environment. Some employers are becoming more flexible in their requirements and will offer training to a candidate who is otherwise a good fit for the role. But others will hold out for a candidate that matches all their skill requirements – both hard and soft. While your technical knowledge may win an interview, your people skills will be the deciding factor on winning the job. So, what exactly are soft skills versus hard skills? Hard skills are specific and can be technical (i.e., software development) or industry specific (i.e., sales management). Soft skills, on the other hand, tend to relate to personality, however, they can also be learned and developed. Whether writing your resume, interviewing for a job, or simply networking with others in your desired field, it is important to mirror your skills and experience to the employer’s needs. Here are six skills that help recent grads win over hiring managers and employers:

1. Adaptability

Provide an example of a time when you were forced to keep calm while working under pressure or shown a willingness to take on new challenges at short notice.

2. Team building and leadership

Include volunteer work if it pertains to team building and leadership. Example: Served as Volunteer Coordinator for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary from 2012-2014. Describe a role where you were required to lead a school project.

3. Communication, mathematics and technical skills

Listing relevant coursework will allow you to demonstrate that you have at the very least been taught to write professionally, develop spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations, and otherwise communicate effectively. Affiliations and/or club memberships such as Debate Club or Toastmasters will help demonstrate both your organizational and presentation skills.

4. Problem-solving, critical thinking

Do background research on the company were you’d like to work. Hiring managers can tell who has done their research and it will set you apart from your competition.

5. Conflict resolution

Be prepared to provide an example where you were forced to react to conflict and what you did to resolve it.

6. Work ethic

Provide the hiring manager with letters of reference that speak to your commitment and strong work ethic. You don’t need to be an expert in your field to win the job. Rather, all you really need is a great personality, the willingness to continually improve, and confidence. Combine these traits with your soft skills and you will become an amazing asset to any company!

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Graduating? Know someone who is? As a perk of the Happy Grad Project, we're offering a FREE download of our e-book, "The Recent Grad's Guide To Getting A Job." This e-book is JAM-PACKED with tips from experts and recruiters, videos, and additional help. Don't put off your job search any longer - Download our e-book today and get started!   Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Many job seekers mistakenly believe that, because they aren’t on Facebook, or Twitter, their online reputation is spotless. Related: Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

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Many job seekers mistakenly believe that their old resume that worked years ago is going to work again in today's job market. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Due to the shear volume of resumes employers receive, many recruiters and hiring managers have opted to automate their hiring process. Rather than read each resume, the vast majority of companies require that job seekers upload their resumes into a database (that often contain hundreds perhaps thousands of resumes from other candidates). Hiring managers then use industry related keywords to filter and identify those candidates they feel are likely to be most qualified for the position. The more keywords they find in your resume the more likely it is your resume will be printed and actually reach the hands of the hiring manager. You can drastically improve your response rate by creating targeted resumes that are focused on the needs of the employer. One of the most common mistakes job seekers make is that they want their resume to be general enough to be used for a variety of unrelated jobs. When you focus on your past rather than the needs of the employer your resume is likely to simply disappear into their vast black hole of a database. In addition to targeting your resume, it is imperative that you quantify your professional accomplishments whenever possible using numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages. This information allows you to differentiate yourself from your competition and gives the hiring manager an idea of both the level of responsibility that you've held, as well as your success in your previous positions. The goal of your resume is to “Wow!” the employer and convince them that they will miss out on the best candidate if they don’t pick-up the phone and give you a call. Many polls show that only one or two typos can be enough to disqualify a candidate from consideration. In fact, I've had the experience of working with one job seeker who had actually been offered a job and the resume was supposedly just a formality. After reading the job seeker's attempt at a self-written resume, which highlighted his poor organizational and written communication skills, the employer actually rescinded the job offer. If you aren't sure what is required on your resume in order to capture the hiring manager's attention - this probably isn't a good time to experiment. Study recently published resume and cover letter books. If spelling, grammar, or typing isn’t your area of expertise, it is a good idea to seek the help of a certified resume writer. (When hiring a professional, always ask to see samples of the writers work. If they refuse it is time to cross them off of your list.) Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The percentage of unadvertised jobs has been estimated to be as high as 80%. This would indicate only a few of the jobs are posted. Given these percentages, pursuing the hidden job market has proven to be one of the most effective ways to shorten your job search. Tapping into these unadvertised jobs requires a targeted search, extensive networking, and a crystal clear value proposition. Here are some secrets for tapping into this hidden job market:

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When a company or executive search committee invests thousands of dollars to locate the perfect employee for a high paying position, they expect to interview only stellar candidates. A recruiter's job is to screen and deliver only the finest applicants to the employer. As a former recruiter and a professional resume writer, I see hundreds of resumes each year where job seekers underestimate the importance of their resume. Many job seekers mistakenly believe because their backward-focused, one-size-fits-all resume worked 5 or 10 years ago, it will work today. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. With automation, population growth, and the continued exportation of American jobs overseas by large corporations; the number of job seekers is likely to continue to exceed the number of job openings for years to come. Technology has not only reduced the number of available jobs, and will continue to do so, but it also plays a key role in the hiring process. It is not unusual for recruiters to receive 100’s of resumes for a single open position. As a result, more than 70% of employers and recruiters have opted to use Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software to filter and screen the most qualified candidates. Failure to understand this software can result in months or even years of unnecessary unemployment. Avoid these common mistakes:

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Angie Jones

Name: Angie Jones Twitter: @ResumeExperts LinkedIn: /in/proresumewriter Personal Website/Blog: Bio: Angie Jones is an award-winning, dual-certified Resume Writer and Career Coach, a former recruiter and founder of Haute Resume & Career Services LLC. Her credentials include having served as a member of the "Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches' (PARW/CC) Certification Committee." In this role, she was tasked with judging and certifying only the most qualified professional resume writers around the world. In addition, she is one of only a handful of professional resume writers to have received the coveted TORI Award (Toast of the Resume Industry); a prestigious international competition recognizing the “best of the best” of resume writers and a six time contributor to nationally published resume and cover letter books available in bookstores. What's your favorite career related quote? “EVERY job is temporary and NOBODY learns how to build a satisfying career in school.” (J.T. O'Donnell) What’s your favorite part about being a CAREEREALISM-Approved Career Expert? I’m able to make a huge difference in the lives of job seekers who are struggling in the midst of their career transitions. Articles written by this expert: Mediocre Resumes Tend to Generate Mediocre Salary Offers Employers Reject More Than 90% of Resumes – Will Yours Survive? Are Professional Resume Writers Worth the Investment? Secrets to Tapping into Unadvertised Jobs Transform Your Resume into a Powerful Recruiter Magnet Is Your Online Reputation Stalling Your Job Search?
As a Certified Professional Resume Writer and former Executive Recruiter, I am often approached by highly qualified job seekers frustrated by weeks and often months of costly unemployment. Job seekers who have sent hundreds of resumes yet are never called to interview. If they were lucky, they were told early that their resume doesn’t meet today’s standards and needs to be rewritten. However, many job seekers wait and hear nothing; having simply been absorbed by the black hole of the employer’s applicant tracking system software. There is no question that unemployment is expensive; but choosing the wrong resume writer can be equally disastrous. In today's highly competitive job market, your career path and financial future are often determined by the quality of your resume. When you think about it, all anyone needs to become a professional resume writer is a computer and a printer. In fact, many claim to be professional resume writers but often have neither the talent nor the basic training necessary to help you survive the employers’ screening process. In contrast, other resume writers spend thousands of dollars each year attending conferences and participating in other types of training, honing their skills and mastering their craft. Choosing a professional resume writer is really no different than hiring a professional in any industry. Hiring the cheapest writer is likely no bargain; but hiring the most expensive writer will not necessarily guarantee the best resume either. Think about it… what do they call a doctor who graduated at the bottom of his class? A doctor. He may be less expensive than others but would you really trust him to perform lifesaving surgery on you or your loved one? The same holds true with professional resume writers. Are you really prepared to place your financial future into the hands of one of these so called resume writers? When seeking the help of a professional resume writer, certifications and referrals are good places to start. Ask for and compare samples of the writer’s work; better yet, work with a resume writer recommended by recruiters. A smart recruiter knows that their candidates are easier to place and negotiating a top-notch salary improves with a great resume. Angie Jones is an award-winning, dual-certified Resume Writer and Career Coach, a former recruiter and founder of Haute Resume & Career Services LLC. Her credentials include having served as a member of the “Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches’ (PARW/CC) Certification Committee.” Resume writer investment image from Shutterstock
How much is your resume costing you? As a globally recognized executive resume writer, a former recruiter and the founder of Haute Resume & Career Services LLC, I review hundreds of resumes each year for job seekers who have often spent months unsuccessfully searching for a new job. The majority of these job seekers have one thing in common… they are using an old-school, backward-focused resume that does nothing to set them apart from their competition. In November, 2011 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average length of unemployment was at 41.1 weeks. Many of these job seekers are losing thousands of dollars as a direct result of their resume. Think about it this way: An unemployed professional who had previously earned $52K per year in his/her last position is losing $1,000 each week they remain unemployed. A 40-week long job search with the wrong resume could end up costing the job seeker $40K in lost wages. The good news is most of these mistakes are easily prevented when the job seeker has educated him/herself in the art of resume writing. Avoid these costly mistakes on your resume!
  • Beware of many of the resume templates found on the Internet. A number of these templates have serious flaws and are not likely to work for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is their incompatibility with certain Applicant Tracking System software (ATS) programs. Many of these older templates were designed in MS Word with the content embedded in tables. If the employer’s software cannot extract your content from the table; your resume is most often deleted.Another reason these templates fail miserably is the result of the job seeker choosing the wrong resume format. I can think of many examples where a chronological resume can actually make a candidate who is transitioning into a new career, look far less qualified than they really are, since the more relevant information is buried deep within the resume.
  • Don't waste your time with an Objective Statement telling employers what you are looking for in your next position. It’s much better to provide a job title in your accomplishment-based Qualifications Summary. The employer would rather you make their job easy by selling them on why they should call YOU in for an interview instead of your competition.
  • Your resume MUST be targeted to the position that you seek. If you use a backward-focused one-size-fits-all resume it is not likely to contain the relevant "keywords" necessary to be picked-up by the ATS software.
  • An exceptional resume requires quantifying your accomplishments whenever possible using numbers, dollar amounts, and percentages. This information demonstrates both the level of responsibility you've held, as well as the level of success that you've had in similar positions.When employers have made their decision they often go back and review the resume prior to making a salary offer. This is where they are reminded of the VALUE you bring to their organization making you worth a top-dollar salary!
  • Most importantly: Know your competition!
It is not unusual for employers to receive hundreds of resumes for a single posted position and they simply can’t read each and every resume, let alone call everyone in to interview. You must have the BEST resume both in content and appearance! You can view samples of accomplishment-based resumes here. Creating a top-notch resume isn't easy but it can be financially rewarding. A great resume will not only survive the dreaded black hole of the employer's database; but also open doors to interview often resulting in a shorter job search. Angie Jones is an award-winning, dual-certified Resume Writer and Career Coach, a former recruiter and founder of Haute Resume & Career Services LLC. Her credentials include having served as a member of the “Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches’ (PARW/CC) Certification Committee.” Mediocre street sign image from Shutterstock