Unemployment may have dropped from its unhealthy levels reached during the recession, but those few years made a lasting impact on how companies bring on new workers, and what it means to have the right skills for the job.
According to The Seattle Times, Harvard education expert Tony Wagner may have put it best when he stated that it's not necessarily what you know in today's job search, it's "what you can do with what you know." There are so many ways for employers to gauge the skills that candidates could bring to the table that the traditional college-to-work model appears to be changing.
Rather than only scanning an applicant's resume, many companies are designing their own screening programs and tests that can accurately assess a candidate's skills and how well they would fit in with the company. These skills may have come from anywhere - a self-taught course, a training seminar or a four-year university - and as long as the applicant can apply them immediately, it makes them a strong potential hire.
Experts weigh in
Eleonora Sharef, who once worked at global consultant McKinsey, started a small website that was meant to bring together job seekers and employers. In doing so, Sharef gained key insight into the current hiring process.
"The market is broken on both sides," he stated. "Many applicants don't have the skills that employers are seeking, and don't know how to get them. But employers also ... have unrealistic expectations."
Sharef added that companies often attempt to find the perfect match, spending large amounts of time, energy and money in the process, and when the candidate still doesn't have the right skills, it creates even more problems. However, Sharef stated that websites being developed, staffing companies and other new labor resources are making a huge impact and helping companies improve their hiring processes.
According to the news source, many companies are testing candidates by asking them to perform tasks they would do at the work place. For a web analytics position, for instance, it would be beneficial to ask the applicant what performance indicators would be measured - and how it would be done - when setting up a website analytics system.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that before the recession, unemployment was at 5 percent. By June 2009, this number had nearly doubled to 9.5 percent, and peaked briefly at about 10 percent. However, the latest BLS report shows the jobless rate has fallen back down to 7.5 percent.