The uncertain economic environment has companies adopting a more cautious approach to their staffing and taking longer to make hiring decisions. With unemployment levels rising, companies are finding that larger numbers of qualified candidates are available.
Companies are establishing very specific requirements for job candidates. Hiring managers are closely assessing the skills, experience and work history of prospective employees, and are less willing to hire someone who does not meet every requirement for a position.
Candidates who possess a combination of extensive hands-on experience, specialized technical knowledge and well-developed "soft skills" remain highly marketable to prospective employers, particularly if they can demonstrate a history of contribution to the company's bottom-line.
In addition to these factors, conditions in every city are different, so it's hard to comment directly on your situation. I do know that it's more critical than ever for today's job candidate to conduct a diligent job search that includes networking with friends and colleagues, and interviewing well with prospective employers. In particular, candidates must develop strong resumes and cover letters that convey their professional abilities.
This was first published in May 2002