Dear Sam: Everyone is telling me that companies are in dire need of qualified candidates, yet I have been out of work for three months and am not so much as even getting a call for an interview. I was laid off when the agency I worked for lost a key account, and, as is the case with many account management roles, when the client goes, you go. I thought I would have no trouble finding another account manager or customer success manager role, but that has not proven true.

How can there be such a shortage of talent, therefore such high demand, yet a qualified candidate like me is sitting here unemployed? As a professional in the account management space with more than 15 years of experience, an MBA degree, and an excellent track record behind me, why isn’t my search working? – Tyler

Dear Tyler: I am so sorry to hear you are struggling in your job search. I understand how frustrating it must be to hear that companies are in need of talent, yet here you are not getting calls for jobs you feel qualified for. You are right, there is a labor shortage, and a recent labor report indicated there are nearly twice as many open positions as there are candidates to fill them. But where these positions are is another story. Many are in the service industry and would not be in the professional capacity to which you are applying. In addition, with many companies still operating with a hybrid or virtual workforce, employers are now selecting not just from the local pool of candidates but a national pool of potential applicants, making competition even more fierce.

The most important advice I can give you is to ensure your resume is ultra-targeted. Don’t operate with the “I want to leave as many doors open as possible” philosophy; instead, close as many doors as possible so you can be ultra-focused on the ones you really want to open. I know this is challenging and often the opposite of what candidates want to do, but the more targeted you can be in the messaging, the more success you will have when your resume goes through an applicant tracking system (ATS) or even a human screener. Think of your resume being in a database, and a hiring manager will pre-determine keywords and key phrases expected to be in a qualified candidate’s resume. Almost akin to an Internet search, those search terms will pull what are expected to be the best fit results, meaning that it isn’t always the most qualified candidate that gets a call for an interview but the candidate with the best-aligned keywords. Hence, being as targeted as possible in your search and your messaging strategy is vital to job search success.

Given it seems you were looking for work in the field from which you came, identifying keywords should be reasonably easy for you as you already know the language you need to speak in your resume. Look at postings of interest to guide the selection of your word choice (aka keywords) to be sure you are aligning the presentation of your background with what positions are asking for today regarding account manager or customer success manager roles. Of course, highlight how you added value to your employer and clients by going beyond the job description to differentiate your candidacy. This is vital when competing in a saturated market. With positions sometimes being fairly equal, how you went beyond expectations to add value is how you differentiate your candidacy.

If you revisit your keyword strategy and focus on your differentiating factors, you will emerge a highly qualified candidate and yield job-search success.