America is a country of forward-thinking innovation. In our rich history, we’ve revolutionized vehicle production, walked on the moon, and produced successful entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. However, despite all of this progress, we still have a long way to go, especially in terms of education.
A National Adult Literacy Survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Education in 2003 revealed that a startling one in five Americans lacks basic skills beyond the fourth-grade level. That’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when you stop and think about how the current job market is becoming increasingly global pits our citizens against job seekers from across the world.
This reality means that there are still more eager candidates than available jobs, and positions that once required less education and experience are being pursued by overqualified individuals. In some cases, people with some to no high school experience are competing with college graduates. While this is clearly an uneven playing field, not all hope is lost for the less-experienced, lower-performing candidates.
There are still many ways they can attractively market themselves to prospective employers. The key is for them to find a way to illustrate strengths that require no education like drive, work ethic and willingness to learn and improve. They might not have academic accolades that are comparable to their competitors, but that doesn’t mean they lack ambition. In fact, many people who perform at a lower-level than their peers are merely there because of circumstance, such as financial standing and upbringing.
Luckily, there are several ways they can illustrate their determination. For starters, they can enroll in one of the many free, open courses available on the web as this alone will show a natural curiosity and desire to learn—not to mention it will help improve comprehension and reading ability. Another option is to present their potential employer with a plan for the future and how they intend to make it happen. This will display a candidate’s motivation to improve, regardless of circumstance or adversity. Any way job seekers can convey their perseverance and adaptability will help set themselves apart from the competition, as those are qualities every company desires.
While there is no one way to succeed in the economy of today, the issue of illiteracy is definitely not helping anyone. It is a national problem that needs to be addressed to keep our citizens competitive and successful.