A Key Ingredient for a Successful Job Search

By: Jesús Fernández,
Associate Provost, Curriculum, DeVry University

The United States economy has continued to rebound sluggishly, but unemployment remains a major issue nationwide. With the unemployment rate constantly in flux and as of November at 8.6 percent, many job seekers question what it takes to succeed. In an effort to help job seekers better understand what skills and qualities hiring managers consider most valuable, the Career Advisory Board, established by DeVry University, created the Job Preparedness Indicator study, which was conducted online Sept. 6–12, 2011, by Harris Interactive among 540 hiring managers and 734 adults age 18+ who are currently seeking a job. The study is designed to identify and track gaps between the attributes candidates say they have and what qualifications employers need to fill available positions – and having a well-rounded education is often at the top of their list.

The Job Preparedness Indicator
The findings of the Job Preparedness Indicator survey indicate that hiring managers place the highest value on key skills sets, such as having a strategic perspective, possessing high integrity, having a global outlook, being dependable and possessing a strong work ethic as well as being accountable. In order to obtain these skills, taking education courses is an excellent resource for any job seeker, at any age.

  • In fact, 69 percent of hiring managers surveyed believe that education is a top five factor in landing a desirable job. That number jumps up to 76 percent for hiring managers in the Midwest.
  • 62 percent of hiring managers say that mid-level job seekers can learn strong communication skills either on the job or in school. Similarly, 65 percent of hiring managers say that problem solving skills can be effectively acquired in a work or an academic environment.

Getting the Right Degree is Key to Success
It is important to not only earn a degree, but to get the right type of education and continuously improve upon the skills employers value most. Those seeking employment should take time to examine the skills and competencies needed for their career path of choice and then tailor their resumes and interview abilities accordingly. Job seekers need to take ownership of their development by doing their homework and understanding what capabilities they might need to strengthen and how best to acquire them.

Fortunately, job seekers have a wide variety of educational options at their fingertips. They can enhance their skills in a traditional classroom, online or a combination of both – depending on their lifestyle. Courses can be taken for academic credit and used to pursue a particular degree or in a continuing or professional education course to sharpen a specific skill, such as leadership or problem-solving. In addition, there are many support programs available to those interested in pursing educational and professional development opportunities. Job seekers can contact the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce to see what resources are available as well as look into job search support groups, such as Career Transitions Center of Chicago or One-Stop Career Centers, which have locations across the state. The full Job Preparedness Indicator report as well as other supplemental information and tips for job seekers are available at www.careeradvisoryboard.com.

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