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How to get a job in 2012

Mary Fran Wiley 27-year-old web designer  credits her return school use social mediGoogle-friendly web profiles with landing job Orbit

Mary Fran Wiley, a 27-year-old web designer, credits her return to school, and use of social media and Google-friendly web profiles, with landing a job at Orbit Media Studios. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 2, 2012 8:12AM

The numbers can be intimidating.

There are four unemployed people and eight job seekers overall for each of the nation’s 3.3 million job openings, according to the latest November data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The local unemployment rate stands at 9.8 percent.

Of those unemployed nationwide, 32 percent have been out of work for a year or more, and 43 percent have been unemployed “long-term” or more than 27 weeks.

The “underemployment” rate is 15.6 percent.

It’s no wonder job seekers get discouraged.

Yet employers hired more than 4 million workers in October, and weekly unemployment claims slipped below 400,000 in the final three months of the year — signaling a significant breakthrough in a figure that had refused to budge — said labor expert John Challenger, CEO of Chicago-based Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

“We are seeing some gains, despite 12.6 million people being unemployed. It’s a deep hole that will take years to dig out of,” he said.

The job outlook for 2012 remains steady with last year’s, but is more positive for highly skilled workers and those with college degrees, studies show. Topping the fastest-growing jobs list nationwide are biomedical engineer, clinical research associate, and senior software engineer, according to a report provided to the Sun-Times by PayScale Inc., an online compensation data firm based in Seattle.

College graduates can expect the biggest hiring growth in government, construction, retail trade, oil and gas extraction, engineering services, manufacturing and management consulting, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2012 report.

In the Chicago area, the jobs in highest demand in 2012 are in health care, information technology, transportation and distribution, leisure and hospitality, and advanced manufacturing.

Unskilled workers should look for job growth at restaurants and retail stores, which continue to hire in increasing numbers, Challenger said.

For experienced workers who are told they are overqualified, Challenger said they should make the interviewer feel comfortable that they aren’t after the boss’ job, that they can help make the boss look good and will not bolt at the first opportunity.

Even if the odds look intimidating, experts say job hunters can boost their chances by being smart about using social media, networking with friends, family and colleagues and refusing to succumb to doubt, solitude and idleness.

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