2017 hiring trends for job seekers to watch

It's official: the talent war is on. In fact, 40 percent of employers say they struggled to find talented candidates to fill jobs in 2016, according to ManpowerGroup's recent Talent Shortage Survey.

While this doesn't bode well for recruiting professionals, here's the great news for job seekers: Employers are looking for strong candidates and will value top talent when they see it.

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In this job seekers' market, here are several hiring trends to keep in mind for 2017, and how they will ultimately benefit you as you explore new job opportunities.

Go where the needs are greatest. The hardest jobs to fill around the globe referenced in the survey include sales representatives, engineers, technicians, drivers, accounting and finance professionals, machine operators, secretaries and receptionists. If you're in the process of changing career paths, keep these hard-to-fill openings in mind, and tailor your resume to highlight skill sets and experiences coveted by positions that recruiters desperately need to fill.

Apply, apply, apply. Nearly one in four participants in the survey reported a lack of applicants. When the applicant pool lacks in quantity – and most importantly quality – it creates an instant set of challenges.

Countless candidates often feel like recruiters won't actually call them – or even that recruiters don't even read resumes! That's why it's important to remember that resumes do not go into some "black hole." Employers not only read them, they actively interview, scurrying to schedule time with them on the calendar. Essentially, they can't fill jobs fast enough!

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So, instead of talking yourself out of pursuing an opportunity by convincing yourself that no one will contact you, go ahead and absolutely do it anyway – I bet you'll be pleasantly surprised by the responses you get.

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Carefully read the job description. In the Manpower survey, one in five employers revealed that applicants don't have the relevant experience or technical skills for the job. While job seekers should apply to as many jobs as possible, it's also important to really review the job description and ask yourself if you're a fit – what are the red flags a recruiter will question? Is it clear that you'd be switching career paths, or that the role would require a move across the country? Succinctly address these issues in your cover letter to help the recruiter connect the dots.

Most importantly, ask yourself if you possess the requirements for the job. For example, when I recruited for positions that required a Ph.D. in economics, I had to immediately reject candidates without one. Yes, that meant even excellent candidates with impressive resumes including master's degrees in economics, because they simply did not meet the required qualifications.

Anticipate on-the-job training. While demonstrating the required technical and soft skills are essential to getting hired, the really good news is that once you're in the door, you can likely expect continued professional development as an employee. For instance, 53 percent of employers said they now offer training and development to existing staff, according to the survey.

Not only will this bode well for your advancement in your current job, but it will also provide plenty of new skills to market on your resume when it comes time to look for your next role. An extra bonus? If the training is external, you can network with instructors and participants to create valuable contacts within your industry.

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Expect higher salaries. Since job seekers are in demand, companies are putting a high price tag on not only hiring, but also on the importance of making sure their people feel valued. Consequently, salaries are rising. Considering the average pay increase this year is expected to be 2.9 percent, according to Mercer Consulting, now is as good a time as any to explore viable opportunities, knowing that you can probably expect a salary increase when you leave.

Expect better perks. If there were ever an excellent time to look for a new job, it would be right now. In addition to boosting salaries, companies are realizing that they need to sweeten the deal with additional perks and benefits.

Whether they're offering sign-on bonuses, additional paid time off or free lunches, 27 percent of companies surveyed say they're providing additional perks and benefits to new hires. So whether you're looking for that extra week of vacation or free lunch every day, take advantage of the talent war by getting out there to find the job that will give you everything you want – and deserve!

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