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How to be among the most sought-after job applicants

When you've been searching for a job for a while with no luck, it can feel like other job applicants must have all the luck, while you keep striking out. Of course, that's probably not true, but there are a few proven techniques that help candidates get hiring managers' and recruiters' attention. So, who are the most sought-after job applicants and what can you do to be more like them?

Consider the size of the company: PayScale looked at which positions are hardest to fill for companies of various sizes. According to their survey of 5,000 executives and HR professionals, companies of all sizes have a hard time filling positions in sales, IT and engineering. Larger companies have the most difficult time finding candidates for these roles, meaning they'll be even more eager to snap you up.

For example, 16 percent of small companies said IT was a hard role to fill. This was the second-hardest position for a small company. But, a whopping 31 percent of respondents from large companies put IT at the top of their "hard-to-fill positions" list. If you have sought-after skills, try applying for positions at companies of different sizes. Your particular skill set may be more in demand at larger or smaller companies.

Work on your technical skills: Finding IT pros is difficult partly because of basic supply and demand principles, says Evan Pollock, senior recruiter at Objective Paradigm, a Chicago tech recruiting firm.

"There is a high demand for software engineers with an emphasis on front-end Web development. The market is very hot for computer science engineers with proficiency in JavaScript, CSS3 and HTML5. However, the demand is far greater than the supply and there just aren't enough computer science engineers in the U.S. to satisfy the demand."

If you have these skill sets and they aren't on your resume, add them. If you know a little about one program or technical language, learn more.

Emphasize these hard-to-find qualities: "We consistently hear from our employers that quality telecommuting job candidates are hard to find," says Kristin Thomas, director of employer services at FlexJobs, a service that connects recruiters with willing telecommuters. Telecommuting is growing rapidly, but many people don't have the unique skill set required for this flexible work schedule.

Telecommuting requires "an interesting mix of skills and work ethic, in addition to the regular requirements of the job. Telecommuters need to have a firm grasp on self-management, written and verbal communication, and even be able to troubleshoot their own technical issues at home."

If you're applying for the increasingly available telecommuting market, and even office jobs, it could be worthwhile to highlight these qualities on your resume. Include details about how you can effectively push a project through from start to finish without prodding from a manager. Most employers would love a steady stream of applicants with these sought-after qualities.

Think like you're already employed: "The hardest candidates to find are the best ones. Those who are at the top of their game, killing it for their current employer," says Kent Burns, recruiter with Sanford Rose Associates, a network of independently-owned executive search firms. If you're out of work, your resume is the best way to show that you can "kill it" for your next employer. Make sure that you don't just list your responsibilities, but that you showcase your value.

How to be among the most sought-after job applicants 05/01/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 2, 2014 3:07pm]

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