How to Be a Better Job Seeker Than You Were Last Year

Miriam Salpeter

If you've been having trouble landing a job, there may be good news on the horizon. The Career Advisory Board's 2013 Job Preparedness Indicator, an annual study designed to identify skill gaps between what candidates have and employers seek, found that U.S. hiring managers are more confident than ever. In fact, the study suggests 86 percent of hiring managers are at least somewhat confident the job market will improve in 2014, up nearly 20 percent from 2012's study.

Just because the economy may be on the upswing doesn't mean job seekers should get complacent. The survey also suggests that few hiring managers believe job seekers have the right skills to land the job. It notes that only 15 percent of hiring managers say nearly all or most job seekers have the skills and traits their companies are looking for in candidates.

Alexandra Levit (, business and workplace author, consultant and Career Advisory Board member, suggests the following tips to help make yourself more marketable as a job seeker:

Showcase past results. Hiring managers want proven candidates. Most people would hesitate to take a risk on someone who claims he or she can do the job. As a result, many employers prefer to hire internally because they already know the candidate and can anticipate the person's potential. It is up to you to demonstrate why you're the best candidate. How can you prove yourself worthy and overcome this objection? Levit says: "Assuage their concerns by clearly demonstrating why your past employers were better off because of your efforts and how those efforts relate to what you'll do at the new organization."

Be sure your résumé and all job search marketing materials focus on your skills and accomplishments. List specific results you created for your employers and be clear about what impact you had at work. Another important tip: Be sure to highlight your role in any results, and don't let it get lost in a description of how your team performed.

Train and retrain. If you've been in the workforce a long time, you'll remember when employees used to rely on employers to suggest and provide training opportunities. "In increasing numbers, employers believe professional development is the individual's responsibility," Levit notes. Take charge of your own professional development: proactively sign up for coursework, volunteer assignments and other programs that will keep your skills fresh and relevant.

Roll with the punches. One thing you can count on in any workplace is that things will change. Employers want to hire people who can be flexible and adapt as needed. "Show potential employers that you are adaptable, can maintain a positive attitude and work effectively no matter what happens tomorrow," Levit says. One way you can feature your positive, flexible approach is via your social media streams. Avoid complaining - even if the complaints have nothing to do with work. Include information in your updates to show that you can roll with the punches. For example, "Was surprised, but excited to learn we're changing how we handle invoices. Can't wait to learn a new system." The alternative is unlikely to win favor: "Couldn't believe they're making another change. I wish accounting would get their act together."

Tap a mentor. A mentor can help you stay ahead of the curve so you'll offer value to your next employer. "Mentors provide an honest and objective perspective on your career that your friends and family can't," Levit explains. "They are the ones to tell you if you are presenting yourself in a way that's holding you back, or if there's something in your background you should play up more." Connect with someone willing to invest time and energy in you and you'll be more marketable for jobs today and in the future.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.