PAPER qualifications are no longer enough to get you the job you desire.

With unemployment fairly widespread in many countries, developing job-hunting capabilities has become a vital life skill if you hope to remain employable.

To be a successful job hunter, you need to create a better resumé and enhance your performance at interviews. Applying for a job you want means developing the skills and qualities that go with the job.

But such skills and qualities are not developed overnight, so the earlier you start the process of thinking, strategising and planning for that job, the more successful you are likely to be.

Ultimately, your job application must be a winning pitch to get you a job interview.

At the all-important first interview, you need to make it a predictable, manageable and, most importantly, a successful event for you so that you will be selected for a second interview.

Stand out from the crowd

Today, many job opportunities lie in areas that have very little relation to the discipline or subject you may have studied.

This means that the opportunities open to you are very wide indeed. But on the same note, it intensifies the competition.

Employers are also increasingly becoming interested in what you know outside your subject or discipline of study.

Often, you get the job because of your experience, expertise, personality, track record and that “magical” fit with the job and the culture of the company.

What employers look for

You are more likely to be a preferred candidate if you appear more knowledgeable about the skills and qualities required for the specific job that you have applied for.

It is therefore critical to do sufficient research on that job and the company as well.

Why? Most employers and recruitment consultancies need to optimise their time and effort and minimise costs in their recruitment and selection.

Make their job easier by ensuring the contents of your resumé and what you communicate at the interview fit their requirements snugly.

Employers are looking for candidates who are “work-ready” and willing to learn quickly on the job.

Candidates who demonstrate a broad range of people skills, task-management skills and proactive positive personal qualities as well as subject matter knowledge generally have an edge in their job hunt.

Employers value soft skills and often shortlist candidates who demonstrate these appropriately throughout the recruitment and selection process.

Though soft skills are hard to measure or quantify, they “lubricate” the wheels of any work situation.

The rising tide of soft skills

Research shows that employers value soft skills such as efficient and effective oral and written communication, and the ability to work in diverse teams.

Interviewers often seek candidates with an ability to size up situations and define them as solvable problems, and those who excel at building rapport with people at all levels.

In today’s workplace, there is a high demand for people who have a knack for developing relationships — especially with customers.

In other words, if you have a high level of emotional intelligence (EQ) and a likeable personality, your chances of securing a job are better.

All these qualities are not easy to demonstrate in a resumé or at an interview.

This is where you need to develop resumé-writing and interview skills to promote, market and “sell” yourself to your potential employer.

Marketplace requirements

Make no mistake, traditional intellectual skills are still important.

This includes the ability to critically evaluate evidence and make concrete decisions, argue logically, apply theory to practice and challenge taken-for-granted assumptions.

Add to these self-reliance and resilience, adaptability, flexibility and creativity, and you have the profile of the preferred candidate!

Finding a good job in today’s demanding workplace is challenging.

Invest in developing job-hunting skills and workplace competencies to beat the competition.