There are clear signs that the United States is experiencing a burgeoning economic recovery, as job creation soared and unemployment tumbled to a rate of just 8.3% at the turn of 2012. With the jobless rate now at its lowest point since February 2009, the economy is growing at a far faster pace than was expected, and creating an increasing number of opportunities for job seekers to forge new career paths. With the job market still extremely competitive however, and a number of well qualified candidates keen to secure work, those seeking employment must consider developing and showcasing their non-academic skills in order to gain a crucial advantage.



SEE: 10 Careers With Great Job Prospects

Show Initiative
While the for-profit sector has endured fluctuating fortunes since the turn of the century, nonprofit organizations and ventures have remained a consistent source of employment opportunities. In fact, in the decade between 2000 and 2010, the nonprofit sector added jobs at a faster and more sustainable rate than commercially driven companies. During this time, nonprofits increased their levels of employment by a healthy 2.1%, while their for-profit counterparts saw a corresponding decrease of 0.6%.

Given that the nonprofit sector has more diverse sources of funding and is therefore less susceptible to the effects of a struggling economy, job seekers are afforded the opportunity to find work while experiencing enforced breaks in their career. Undertaking a voluntary role also adds additional skills and experience to your resume, while giving employers the impression that you are someone who is able to display initiative and seek out less obvious opportunities for advancement. In a competitive job market, this can only have a positive impact on your long-term job search.

Be Flexible
The nature of the employment market has evolved significantly in the last decade, with companies looking to outsource an increasing number of job roles. Last year's figures suggest that this trend is likely to continue into 2012, with numerous technological innovations allowing firms the opportunity to outsource sales, marketing and human resources tasks alongside a range of IT activities. From the development of software as a service to cloud-based customer relationship management systems, businesses are accessing a vast array of tools to connect and interact remotely with a global pool of potential employees.

With the process of outsourcing allowing businesses to both save money and streamline their operations, as a job seeker you must be increasingly flexible in your approach to work. By embracing the idea of working remotely and showing a willingness to adapt to new working methodologies, you will showcase yourself as a candidate who is in touch with the demands of modern business. So, while in between positions of employment, you should consider marketing your skills as an independent contractor as a way of developing your commercial appeal. (To learn more, check out 3 Tips To Boost Your Chances Of Finding Work In 2012.)

Be Self-Aware
As youth unemployment in the U.S. rose significantly, alongside the overall rate of joblessness between 2010 and the formative months of 2011, there was a clear gap between the skills of job seekers and the needs of employers. With just 48.8% of individuals aged between 16 and 24 in employment during the summer of 2011, teaching organizations began to consider tailoring college education to suit the prevailing trends in the labor market. As a consequence, education leaders are now offering students a more diverse range of courses to address any potential skills gap.

The same principle can be applied to older job seekers in the U.S., and individuals who are looking for work should consider undertaking relevant career and educational training while understanding which non-academic qualifications are most useful in the existing labor market. Although courses of this vocational nature have often been disparaged when compared with the financial benefits offered by a college degree, they provide a great opportunity for you to better understand the modern labor market and improve your skill set and resume accordingly.

The Bottom Line
Regardless of your experience or academic credentials, you should always look to develop your skill set and showcase a range of personal attributes. This is especially true in a competitive job market, where any number of employment candidates may boast similar academic qualifications and work related expertise. Your willingness to seek proactive routes towards personal development and self-improvement may be key, and could make the difference in your job search as the economic recovery gathers momentum. (For more on employment, see 6 New Jobs You've Probably Never Heard Of.)

Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Leading Economic Indicators: U.S. Bureau of Labor Monthly Stats

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics' monthly employment figures are a key economic indicator. Here's how they work.
  2. Personal Finance

    How To Get That Entry-Level Financial Analyst Job

    Landing a job as a financial analyst takes study, strategy and a lot of hard work. Here's how to hone your competitive edge.
  3. Personal Finance

    Does It Make Sense to Go to College in Europe?

    If you're deciding whether to get a degree abroad, first do your research and talk to alumni who have completed the same program.
  4. Economics

    What Qualifies as Full Employment?

    Full employment is an economic term describing a situation where all available labor resources are being utilized to their highest extent.
  5. Professionals

    Small RIAs: How to Level the Playing Field

    In order to compete with larger firms, small RIAs have to get a little creative. Here are a few ways to kickstart growth.
  6. Professionals

    Is it Time to (Finally) Push Kids Out of the Nest?

    Parents should make sure their kids realize their home is a launching pad not a landing spot, and advisors can help clients talk to their children.
  7. Economics

    Understanding Frictional Unemployment

    Frictional unemployment is one aspect of natural unemployment, which is unemployment caused by things other than an underperforming economy.
  8. Professionals

    Millennials & Debt: Why So Many Still Live at Home

    More millennials live with their parents now than they did during recent recessions. Here's why.
  9. Taxes

    Top Tips for Minimizing Taxes on Severance Pay

    A look at the top ways to lessen the tax burden on severance pay.
  10. Retirement

    These Are the Top Jobs for Retirees

    Learn some of the best jobs available for retirees who want to stay busy. These include retail, driving, call center work and tutoring.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Total Permanent Disability (TPD)

    A condition in which an individual is no longer able to work ...
  2. Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

    A federal law designed to ensure equal pay for all workers, regardless ...
  3. Age Discrimination In Employment ...

    A federal statute protecting "certain applicants and employees" ...
  4. Concurrent Periods

    A period of time in which more than one injury or disability ...
  5. Working Tax Credit (WTC)

    A tax credit offered to low-income individuals working in the ...
  6. Society of Actuaries (SOA)

    The SOA is a professional organization for actuaries in the U.S., ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are the best free online calculators for calculating my taxable income?

    Free online calculators for determining your taxable income are located at Bankrate.com, TaxACT.com and Moneychimp.com. Determining ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does comprehensive income get reported on my 1040?

    As of 2015, on the standard IRS Form 1040, your comprehensive or total income is calculated through lines 7-22. This is different ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can an investment banker switch to a career in corporate finance?

    It's pretty easy for an investment banker to switch to a career in corporate finance. The career skills are easily transferable, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do I get started with a career in asset management?

    The asset management industry has a variety of different career paths. Depending on what asset management area you would ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. For which kind of jobs is having Magnum Cum Laude most important?

    Having a magna cum laude degree is most important for jobs in the fields of finance, management consulting and engineering. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!