Start a management degree at American Public University.
By Enid Naranjo, JD
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University
In this era of mass technological changes, human resource departments are challenged to find the best ways to discover and engage talent, because the talent management market continues to change dramatically. Searching and applying for jobs is not like it used to be.
During the last economic recession in 2008, companies were forced to reduce recruiting costs. As a result, economical platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed rose in prominence as surrogates for HR staffers.
Today, Job Search Is Electronic
The days of physically mailing in your resume and waiting for a call about a position are gone. Now, all job search communications happen electronically. Since the recruiter and employer aren’t going to see your face and interact with you until you’re invited for a personal interview, your paperwork and your follow-up must be on point.
Job hunting today requires a well-thought-out, multi-channel strategy that drives your visibility and entry to the employers that appeal to you the most.
Let’s start with the basics: ensuring that you have a solid resume strategy. It’s no longer enough to dump everything into one document. Instead, you need to evaluate the different positions you will go after and customize your resume for each.
Create a Good Resume to Pass Applicant Tracking Systems
Applicant tracking systems (ATS) have assumed the task of sifting through resumes to determine whether a hiring manager sees your application or not. There is, however, a way to craft your resume for submission to ensure that it will make it past any ATS.
If your resume includes the keywords the employer is looking for (the keywords are in the job description) the ATS will rank your resume higher than others and it will be shortlisted. Because the keywords are different for each job, it’s necessary to customize your resume to fit each job description that interests you. Find a natural way to use the keywords you’ve identified and include them in your resume’s achievements and skills section.
Customize Your Resume for Each Job
If you have more than one area of expertise, prepare a resume for each area. For example, if you are a marketing executive with solid event marketing experience, it would be prudent to have one resume that focuses on marketing jobs and another that focuses on event marketing.
Build a Digital Presence
The next critical step in your job hunting is to work on your digital presence. It starts with your LinkedIn profile. The more complete your profile is, the better the odds that recruiters will find you.
Make sure your profile includes what your skills are, where you’ve worked, and recommendations from past managers and colleagues. Here are some other tasks to make sure your profile is top-notch:
- Get a custom URL – Make it easy to publicize your profile with a customized URL. (linkedin.com/yourname)
- Use a great professional photo – Your smile is part of your brand; make sure you feel great during your photo session. Showcase your best self.
- Take the time to write a great summary – Show your skills as a competent writer.
- Describe all your professional achievements – Case studies, video recaps and white papers can play an important role in telling your professional story. Don’t hesitate to use them.
- Request recommendations on your profile — Get them from past managers, colleagues and partners.
Once you have your profile on LinkedIn, you should have what you need to establish a profile on additional recruitment sites. Indeed is the dominant job aggregator website, so it’s a great place to be.
But make certain you also find job sites that specialize in the type of positions you are seeking. For example, if you are seeking a job in the marketing field, you might want to consider Siftly. For tech jobs in the startup environment, consider AngelList.
Begin Your Job Hunting by Doing Your Research
Your next step is to actively begin your job hunting. Start by making a list of the companies you are going to target, but don’t just select them blindly. The Internet is an infinite source of information and allows you to explore and research, so make your decisions based on actual data.
Once you have made your list of companies, search for job opportunities on their Careers page and also on LinkedIn. Sometimes companies will use one or the other for candidate recruitment, but now companies often use both their own website and LinkedIn to find potential employees.
Use the Power of the Internet to Target Your Next Employer
You can learn which companies in your area of interest are growing and hiring in just a few hours. If you take the time to read reviews on Indeed and Glassdoor, you can learn which companies have a good reputation and are known as good places to work. (You can also learn which companies to avoid based on former employees’ comments.)
You can even reach out to former employees on LinkedIn to gauge their past experiences at a particular firm. It’s that easy.
Clean Up Your Social Media Sites before Job Hunting
Industry research has revealed that 74 percent of interviewers check candidates’ social media sites as part of their interview preparation. This contrasts with the expectations of candidates, however. Only 36 percent of job seekers expect their social media to be screened, meaning many job candidates could be caught short with online posts they regret.
It’s important to remember that social media sites allow a prospective employer or recruiter to get to know you beyond just the words on your resume. Social media have the potential to identify you as someone who is engaged in your industry or as someone whose political or social views do not align with those of the company or the industry.
Build Your Network on the Internet
Many job hunters overlook the fact that the Internet is a great place to network. Make LinkedIn your digital Rolodex. Whenever you get business cards from solid contacts (clients, vendors, hiring managers or recruiters), invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. Make it a monthly task to grab that stack of business cards on your desk and reach out to them.
Be sure to include all your former bosses and colleagues in your LinkedIn network, and don’t forget your friends from college, too. They may all be connected to folks who work in the industry you’re most interested in.
Increase your high-quality connections, particularly with the right people in your field or industry. Companies are not only interested in where you’ve worked, but also who you’re connected to. Plus, the more people you connect with, the more people you can reach via secondary connections while you’re job hunting.
Thoroughly Research Your Potential Employer
Before an interview, read the company’s website and look at the backgrounds of the people you may meet. But there is additional research you can do during job hunting to arm yourself with even more information:
- Read recent white papers they have posted
- Take a look at customer reviews
- Check out their competitors and partner websites
If the job you are searching for is in another area, look at articles about that community. If you might to move there for that new job, check housing prices and other amenities, including public transportation and schools.
Prepare for Digital Interviews and Online Personality Tests
Phone and video interviews are increasingly replacing in-person interviews, so you need to think about your image in these environments. Some candidates will set up a spot in their home for video interviews and make sure the background is neutral.
With video interviews, remember to plan ahead and check the quality of your PC camera and lighting so that you don’t look like a zombie. Also, try to log onto your computer five to 10 minutes early to make sure all of its systems are working.
Avoid Simple Mistakes
Mistakes in the job search, even minor ones, can cost you an opportunity to make a good impression. Here are a couple of mistakes to avoid:
- Using one standard resume without customization. Since you’re likely going up against an ATS, it is in your best interest to tailor your resume and cover letter for each specific position.
- Failing to understand the job description. Figure out the most important skills needed for the job. Then, reorganize your credentials to highlight those skills in your background and experience that the job calls for. Whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments with percentages or dollar amounts.
Job hunting in the digital age requires a great focus and strategy. With careful resume preparation and hard work, you can improve your chances of being called in for an interview. Good luck!
About the Author
Enid Naranjo is an adjunct instructor in the School of Business at American Public University. She has been teaching online classes in English and Spanish since 2009.
Enid’s academic credentials include a B.A. in history from the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus and a J.D. in law from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. She is a multi-faceted business executive with over 15 years of experience. Enid has worked for several women-led enterprises, including Hispanic Radio Network and Colon Enterprises, Inc. She is an avid small business enthusiast and enjoys providing legal counsel to budding entrepreneurs.