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The Skills Gap: Resume and Job Ad Alignment

The skills gap: it is one of the most discussed topics in the recruiting world today. U.S. employers continue to battle to find workers with the competencies they require, and many believe that an under-skilled, technologically unprepared workforce is to blame. It’s an assertion that’s often accepted as an absolute truth and assumed to apply broadly to the labor pool as a whole.
But a different narrative is now emerging, supported by findings outlined in LiveCareer’s 2018 Skills Gap Report. And it looks like the problem is a little more layered than we originally thought.

Is the real gap more of a communication chasm?

LiveCareer’s study looked at the conundrum at the level of job ads and resumes, analyzing thousands of each across 12 mainstream professions using a natural language processing tool.

And the results show that, yes, there is a lot of dissonance – on average, applicants’ resumes match only 59 percent of hard skills (tangible, teachable abilities) and 62 percent of soft skills (intangible interpersonal skills) listed in job postings. Plus, jobseekers tend to mention far fewer skills in their resumes (13) than job ads list as requirements (a whopping 21.8).

But this mismatch doesn’t (necessarily) stem from a skills deficit. Rather, the disparity seems to lie more in how employers and jobseekers prioritize, value, and talk about skills. A comparison of the top 20 skills listed across job postings and the top 20 mentioned in resumes shows that, while there is some overlap, there are also key differences in the abilities that applicants deem relevant and the abilities that companies say they want. In other words, these two parties are operating on slightly different wavelengths.



Not all professions are equal on the skills gap front

Importantly, this misalignment between resumes and job ads doesn’t happen uniformly across occupations. Certain professions are, in fact, a lot better at writing resumes that align with the skills employers desire than others (see graph below).

When looking at the average number of hard skills listed in resumes as compared to the total diversity of hard skills listed in all job ads for each of the 12 occupations, the following professions do the best at matching the two:

The results differ for soft skills, though, with the three occupations below syncing their resumes with job ads the most effectively in this department:



On a broader scale, the study’s results also showed that white-collar workers fare better than blue-collar workers at the matching game, for both hard and soft abilities.

Similarly, tech-centric professions (those requiring job-specific skills developed through formal training) are more successful than soft-centric occupations (those requiring more general, people-facing skills) at aligning their resumes with job ads when it comes to hard skills. And the opposite is true for soft skills: soft-centric professions are more adept at matching requirements here.

A matter of perception and semantics?

If the problem lies in the prioritization of different skills and in the language jobseekers and companies use during the recruitment process, then it follows that the professions above must be more adept at evaluating which skills are most important to prospective employers, and better at talking about their abilities in terms that recruiters use too.

And in fact, LiveCareer’s findings suggest that tiny semantic differences definitely play a role in exacerbating the supposed gap. In some cases, employers aren’t finding skilled candidates because where they’re looking for people who are good at  teamwork and who have sound organizational skills, jobseekers are advertising themselves as being team player[s] who are also very organized.

The implications for job ad writers and recruiters

Considering that the gap seems to be rooted in job ad-resume mismatches, there are certain things job ad writers and recruiters can do differently to help shrink this gulf. These include:

An added benefit: a more efficient interviewing process

Aside from making it easier to actually identify skilled candidates, ensuring better job ad-resume alignment helps to improve and streamline the interview process too. It means that all the parties involved are more likely to be on the same page – recruiters can rest assured that interviewees actually possess the key skills they’re after, and applicants can arrive for an interview with a clearer picture of what’s required for the job.

In this way, less time and money is wasted on both sides, candidates have a more positive experience, and vacant positions are filled much faster. It’s what you’d call a win-win situation.

Additional takeaways for recruiters and job ad writers, plus a PDF download of the full report, are available via the 2018 Skills Gap Report.


About the author:

Since 2005, LiveCareer’s team of career coaches, certified resume writers, and savvy technologists have been developing career tools that have helped over 10 million users write persuasive cover letters, develop better interview skills, and write resumes via their free, easy-to-use Resume Builder.

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