leavesWant to take charge of your career and land the job of your dreams? It’s easier than you might think!

That isn’t to say it’s a walk in the park. Snagging your dream job will take some work, but if you follow the right steps and put in the effort, you can absolutely make it happen.

The idea is to mold yourself into the perfect candidate. Once you’ve done the research and know what potential employers are looking for, you can take action to make sure you meet their criteria as an ideal hire. With so many online resources and classes at your fingertips, becoming the perfect candidate is easy!

1. Research Industry Trends and Requirements

According to a 2015 study from the National Federation of Independent Business, 48 percent of small businesses report there are “few or no qualified applicants for the positions they [are] trying to fill.” It’s possible that there really are no qualified applicants, but it’s more likely that candidates are not marketing themselves correctly or including the most relevant information on their resumes.

Start your journey to your dream job by researching what businesses are actually looking for in candidates. Pay attention to the required skills or experience your goal position requires. Some things to consider:

- Is there any popular industry software you need to know how to use?
- When you browse job openings, what skills, tools, or knowledge do employers commonly require?
- Are there any specialized certifications you could earn to catch potential employers’ eyes?

The more research you do, the better. You want to get a full understanding of what employers are looking for in candidates in your field so you can mold yourself into the perfect hire.

A great way to do this research is to browse through job postings. Think about what you want your next career move to be, then search job boards and career sites for opportunities that interest you. Make a note of all the requirements – especially ones you see a lot.

2. Learn the Required Skill(s)

MicrophoneOnce you know what skills and knowledge you need to get ahead, take classes that will help you obtain said skills and knowledge. With options like Khan Academy, Lynda.com, Skillshare, and YouTube, you can learn practically anything online with minimal or no cost.

I had a client once tell me that taking a class was not an option because of time and money. If you feel this way, you’re too focused on traditional, in-person classes. You don’t need to go to an accredited university to earn a degree – you just need to further develop your knowledge in subject. Online classes are perfect for this scenario.

Do you notice that a lot of jobs in your field require proficiency with a certain software? Take an online course to learn about the program. You don’t need to become an expert – though if you can, that’s even better! What’s most important is to familiarize yourself with the subject enough that you can confidently include your skills/knowledge on your resume.

Passion Isn’t Enough – You Need Skills

If a recruiter or hiring manager can’t see how you’d align with a position just by scanning your resume, you’re not going to land that job.

I was just talking to a client about this the other day. She has the passion and enthusiasm, but doesn’t have the qualifications on paper. This is why I always advise people to make use of online resources and courses to learn skills they can add to their resumes.

Think about it this way: You may be interested in design, but if you have no related experience or education, you’ll never get a job in the field. Passion isn’t enough. If, on the other hand, you take some courses to learn design skills, your resume will catch more attention.

It’s also important to note that many employers use applicant tracking systems and other filters to weed out unqualified candidates based on resume keywords. For instance, if an employer is looking to hire an inside sales rep with experience generating leads, working a pipeline, and prospecting new markets, they will be looking for those keywords and key phrases specifically in each resume they receive.

This is why doing your research and educating yourself are so important: If you want to make it through the gate and onto the hiring manager’s desk, you’ll need to be able to include the necessary qualifications on your resume.

If you want to take charge of your career and land the job of your dreams, start by doing some research on industry trends. Then, take an online course or two so your knowledge and skill set are up to date. This will enable you to put relevant skills and information on your resume, which will help you get through the filters and catch the employer’s eye. The more closely you align with your dream job’s requirements, the more likely it is an employer will see you as an ideal candidate.

A version of this article originally appeared on Write Styles.

Michele Lando is a certified professional resume writer and the founder of Write Styles.



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