Survive the Competitive Job Market: Be a More Valuable Worker

hired candidate

Finding work can be difficult in today’s competitive job market. Not everyone has the necessary skills and experience most employers are looking for, and the number of applicants for any given job can be overwhelming. Get a leg up on your competition by making yourself more visible and more valuable to your potential employers.

Tweak Your Resume

Make your resume more appealing by making improvements to yourself. Learn to play an instrument, play a sport, or get a hobby. Just make sure to put a little effort into your endeavors. Being average at something isn’t really an achievement, so try to aim at least to get into the upper 20th percentile of whatever you’re trying to do. Your employers might notice your efforts and deem it as a sign of drive and determination. Find a piano teacher, join a sport’s club, or start an interesting hobby.

You won’t have problems finding mentors or groups in Illinois — whether you’re in a big city or a small village. Learning a second or third language can also raise your perceived value. Employers will see it as a sign of intellect, and your communication skills could find use in the company in the future. Make sure your aptitude is conversational or better — otherwise, your language skills won’t get much use.

Learn a Trade

A college education doesn’t have as much weight as it did a few decades ago. Most companies are at their saturation point and unless you have a degree in science, technology. Engineering and mathematics (the so-called STEM fields) — you might need to work a job completely unrelated to your field of study. Most college graduates work in generic office jobs, and 41 percent have jobs that don’t even require college degrees.

On the other hand, skilled workers are always in demand — particularly in construction, manufacturing, and trucking. Skilled labor shortages in these industries are prevalent, and experts predict demand for skilled workers won’t die down for the foreseeable future. The labor shortage has forced companies to ramp up their recruitment efforts — offering higher wages and better benefits. Wages have consistently gone up in the past years, and most jobs pay more than $30 an hour. Learning a trade can open up a successful and lucrative career path. There is a multitude of trade schools in states like Illinois, and learning a trade takes less than two years — with some requiring less than six months.


The lack of experience is the usual downfall of most job applicants. A stint volunteering for an NGO or a cause close to your heart should provide a suitable experience. Most advocacy groups will often pay their workers, but wages can be minimal. Once you put in more work and last more than a few weeks, you might get better wages, or the organization might even consider taking you on as a regular. Of course, don’t stop applying for work while you’re volunteering. Most companies will give you virtue points for doing good work, and the time you spent with your chosen organization proves that you can hold down a job for more than a few weeks.


working from home

Staying idle is one of the worst things you can do. Company HR will see the gaps in your resume, and you’ll have trouble explaining your less productive months/years. If you don’t practice them, your skills will dull or get outmoded by newer practices/technology. Your work ethic can also take a dive, as your mind and body can get used to being less active. Work on small projects or go full freelance. Most companies are happy to delegate work to freelancers, and you can work in a shared office/coworking space if your home isn’t conducive to work.

Check Government Listings

Local governments will often specify job openings a well as training courses on their websites. For example, in early February, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced that Greencorps was accepting trainees for its 2021 class. The training program pertains to green industries and is open to all applicants — especially those who haven’t worked for a long time. Trainees will earn $15 an hour during their training — learning skills like horticulture, green infrastructure, tree care, ecology, and pesticide use. The state government will usually have several listings at any given time, but you’ll need to constantly check their pages.

Finding a decent job requires a lot of work. Paint the picture of an ideal employee by working on yourself, learning skills, and getting valuable experience through volunteer work or other endeavors.

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