The job market over the past year has gone through some unprecedented changes. Fortunately, we are in the healing season of a very painful and troubling year.

After a yearlong shutdown, certain industries are making a strong comeback as the pandemic subsides. We are seeing more job opportunities in retail, hospitality, travel, bars, nightclubs, construction and the restaurant industries.

Youth employment service agencies are tasked with the challenge of preparing transitional-age youth for these renewed job opportunities.

Employment development workers understand the challenge of transforming youth into employable adults. By monitoring the ever-changing job market, I have learned a few things that could be of use to the current jobseeker.

Employers evaluate potential applicants on mainly three criteria before even considering them for the job: What they read about them, what they see and what they hear. In other words, your paperwork, your presence and your delivery all need to be impressive. If any of those three areas are not right, then you will fall short.

First is what they read about you. Your paperwork must be in order. That means you need to have the basic credentials, such as a polished resume, a cover letter and qualifying documentation. Depending on the position, this would include documents such as a high school diploma, a college degree, a driver’s license, a food-handlers license, a guard card or an OSHA 10 certification, to name a few. Supplemental documents need to be in order, such as in a letter of recommendation, a well-written cover letter, a list of references or a portfolio of your work.

All these things can and should be available in a digital format or platform such as a LinkedIn profile or a professional landing page.

Your digital or online identity will come into play at some point. A not-so-good look from the employer’s perspective would be things that would come up in a background check, such as a criminal record, a poor driving record or an inconsistent work history. In some instances, within certain industries, a poor credit score will also disqualify you from some positions. If you look good on paper or online, you increase the likelihood of moving on to the next step in the recruitment process.

Second is what they see. Your personal presence is vital. Let us remember that we live in a superficial society and employers are not immune to human imperfection. They, too, will judge you on your appearance.

If you look good on paper yet show up in unprofessional attire, in most cases you will have lost favor in the eyes of the employer. It does not matter how well-qualified or educated you are. If you show up looking raggedy, it’s all for naught. Due to modern fashion trends, people have done extreme things to their personal appearance that have become an employment barrier. The message to youth job-seekers is that they should care more about their professional image instead of their social image.

The final criteria is what they hear from you. You must be able to sell your product. The product you are selling is you: your education, training, work ethic and technical skills. Professional communication skills for job-seekers is a must. If you communicate well, you will do well in any environment.

Having a healthy vocabulary and a good hold on the English language is a valuable tool for those seeking employment. Quite often, the candidate with the best communication skills will beat out the applicant with more qualifications and credentials. Learn how to use the proper words and phrases that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Skilled communicators can make anything sound good. My youngest son’s job at home is to take out the trash every day. We don’t call him garbage boy. His title is “head of domestic disposal.”

If anyone has taken the time to invest in themselves by improving in all three of these areas, I am confident that they will be impressive enough to obtain employment in the new job market. As the saying goes, “Success happens, when opportunity meets preparation.”

Deon D. Price is an author and youth life skills coach who lives in Fairfield. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or through his website,