Searching for a job can be a daunting task-something too many Americans know all too well. Job seekers need to find creative ways to renew and document their skills to stand out from the crowd.

Gone are the days when refreshing a resume and customizing a cover letter would give prospective employees a shot at landing an interview. Now, employers are looking for a fool-proof way to know the people they hire will be a wise investment.

“Identifying and training the right employee costs time and money to already strapped employers,” said Martin Scaglione, President of the Workforce Development Division at ACT. “Job seekers who can document their skill levels to prospective employers before the interview process help increase their chance of success.”

The process begins with preparation and planning. The following steps can help:

Plan – Before applying for a job, find out what skill set the job requires. ACT, best known for its college entrance exam, has one of the largest, most robust databases of occupational skills available, with more than 18,000 job titles. ACT-authorized job profilers have analyzed the tasks required to perform each job, and identified the essential skills required for these tasks, allowing job seekers to easily match their skill levels to profiled jobs.

Search – Applying for dozens of positions online likely leads to disappointment for most job seekers as their inboxes fill with spam rather than interview invitations. Instead, start by searching top job sites, local job sites and sites that focus on specific career fields to begin the search. Then, use online tools, job boards and networking to help narrow the choices and lessen the chances of applying for jobs that already have too many applicants.

Apply – Most employers get hundreds of online resumes every day to fill a limited number of positions. Some common tips may help increase your chance of success in the resume screening process:

  • Follow the online application directions precisely. The quickest way to be eliminated is to ignore the employer’s specific application process.
  • Place your computer/software skills together in a list under one heading, and all other skills under a separate heading.
  • Include acronyms with spelled out versions to make sure both are caught in the screening process.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread. Then ask someone you trust to proofread again before you submit your paperwork.

Prove – Employers want to make sure applicants are a sure bet before they are even hired. One of the most efficient ways to demonstrate skills is to earn a widely respected, evidence-based skills certification before applying for a job. ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is made up of three assessments measuring essential workplace skills in math, reading and locating information. You may list your Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum NCRC on your resume and a prospective employer can log on to an ACT website to verify your accomplishment.

Job seekers can further their chances for success by taking the NCRC Plus; which measures work-related behaviors beyond cognitive skills and ranks individuals in four “soft skill” categories important to employers.

To learn more about the NCRC, and to find a testing center near you, visit www.act.org/certificate.

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