Many of today's unemployed are staying that way longer because they're competing for jobs with yesterday's job-search skills and techniques, career experts say.

The economic collapse that has officially left 10 percent of the nation unemployed has turned into a buyer's market as companies begin to hire back the workforce. That means tighter resume screenings and more stringent interviews are the norm.

But more and more Americans remain unemployed — and millions more simply give up looking — because they have not adapted to the tougher job market, career coaches say.

"Companies are indeed hiring, but the burden is now on the candidates," said Vicki Brackett, founder and president of Make It Happen Consulting, a Denver firm that does job-search makeovers.

"Many phones are not ringing because people are simply looking in the wrong place," she said. "What worked before isn't working now."

Before, on average, women remained unemployed for three to five months, said Brackett, who also owns Make It Happen for Women.

"Now they've been there for a year, men included," she said. "And 80 percent of the men are unemployed for more than a year, even those with terrific backgrounds and some of them finalists for six or eight jobs."

And the reason isn't money. The successful candidate is the one who builds value, with a strategy on the hiring company. Fewer than 10 percent of all jobs are gotten via job boards, yet better than 80 percent of job seekers focus their efforts there, studies show.

"And fewer than 2 percent of professional jobs come from there," Brackett said.

Job seekers need to make adjustments — sometimes serious changes — to their search approach because companies, though still hiring, are scrutinizing more and being more selective.

"What we're finding is that companies and organizations may have laid off 500 or 1,000 people, (and) they're not going to hire 500 or 1,000 back. They'll hire 200 or 300," Kevin Kelly, chief executive of Heidrick & Struggles, one of the largest recruiting firms, told The Associated Press recently.

Many top-shelf candidates are simply unaccustomed to selling themselves, Brackett said, because they've dealt only with recruiters and career networking.

"People are doing job searches backward, putting resumes together, then sending them out," Brackett said.

The key is in personal marketing, selling yourself to a specific job with a specific set of criteria. And the three areas to focus on are making the company money, saving it money and minimizing its risks.

"Most resumes don't speak to this," Brackett said. "They're too busy writing down job descriptions instead of what makes you right and the best candidate. Everyone looks the same on paper and says the same things in interviews. They know the details of a company but not the strategy to help them."

David Migoya: 303-954-1506 or