Major parts of a successful job search process have changed dramatically since the 80’s or 90’s – the not-so-long-ago pre-Internet world. Technology and the Internet, plus the growth in population and the economic challenges of the past few years, have changed how employers recruit and how people connect – and stay connected.
The changes in recruiting technology have, of course, had a big impact on effective job search strategies. No surprise. So, time to change some of your practices and procedures to fit the new requirements of the job market.
1. Know what you want – prepare your “job shopping list.”
Compare today’s job search to shopping in a big box store. If you go into the store for “anything,” you don’t know where to begin. But, if your goal is a toy for a child’s birthday or something on your shopping list, you know exactly what part of the store you want, and your trip will be more successful.
Exactly the same with a job search! If you are looking for “anything,” you have too many options now – Indeed.com, the largest job search engine in the world, had over 500,000 jobs posted last week. Without a goal (the title and location of the job you want), you will be overwhelmed and waste time applying for too many inappropriate jobs.
So, save time by focusing on exactly what you want – put together your “job shopping list” two or three job titles, your preferred locations, and a dozen target employers you’d like to work for.
2. Customize your resumes to the employer and opportunity.
Employers are buried with resumes for every job posted – often numbering into the hundreds! And, it is obvious that most of those applicants simply clicked on the “apply” button apparently without actually reading the job description.
To stand out from that crowd, study the job description, and include the terms they have in the description. If it specifies certain “supply chain” experience that you have but you call that experience “logistics” on your resume, change your resume’s term to “supply chain” – the term the employer is looking for. If they call the position “Project Administrative Assistant,” change “Administrative Assistant” on your resume to match their job title.
That matching process shows them that you are paying attention to their requirements, and it also helps you evaluate whether or not you are actually a good match for the job.
Don’t waste your time applying for a job when you are not a good match for it. Your efforts will be ignored, and you will be teaching employers that you are a careless applying-for-everything candidate who should be ignored. And, don’t create a match where none exists because that will also ruin your reputation.
3. Get social – be visible and active on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is not Facebook. LinkedIn will not compromise your privacy. LinkedIn is also not optional for job hunting today. Seriously.
LinkedIn is a recruiter or employer’s “happy hunting ground” where instead of being deluged with resumes from unqualified, sloppy applicants, employers can search for – and find! – job candidates who are qualified for the jobs they have.
Make sure that your Profile is 100% complete and public. Connect with work friends and former colleagues. Follow your target employers and look for their recruiters who encourage you to connect with them. Join LinkedIn Groups that are relevant to your profession, industry, location, and target employers.
Yes, you can look foolish on LinkedIn by doing stupid things, so don’t send out trashy updates, post nasty comments in LinkedIn Groups, or otherwise do something that would embarrass you in front of your current or future boss.
4. Practice Defensive Googling.
In 2009, nearly 80% of employers Googled applicants before inviting them in for an interview. By now, that number must be close to 100%. It’s a quick “background check” that helps employers sift through the hundreds of applicants they have for every job.
So, Google yourself before you apply! You MUST know what employers find when they Google your name!
Contrary to what you may believe, finding nothing about yourself is NOT good – for two major reasons. First, you look like you don’t understand how to operate effectively in today’s online world, a necessity for virtually (no pun) every job. Employers do not want to hire someone who is obviously “out of date.” Secondly, it makes you vulnerable to mistaken online identity – someone else with the same name who has done something evil or, at least, inappropriate for the job and employer you want.
[More on how to practice Defensive Googling.]
5. Reconnect with and Expand Your Network.
This is the BIG advantage that Boomers have – they have lived long enough to have great networks! And, your network is what will help you land that new job as much as anything else you can do. This is not “using people.” This is connecting with old friends and colleagues, getting caught up, seeing what you can do to help them as much as what they can do to help you.
This is the best part of your job search!
- Get back in touch with those great, or at least very interesting, people who have dropped out of your current life. LinkedIn and Google can both help you find your network.
- Look around at your community or your profession to see where and how you can help out. My favorite job is checking people in for local business and community events – welcoming people and handing out name tags, I get to meet most everyone who attends. And, they meet me!
- Take a class in social media, internet marketing, or whatever interests you at your local community college. You may be the oldest one in the class (great way to stand out), but you may not. Introduce yourself to the professor or instructor. Become more up-to-date and expand your network, too.
You’ll get caught up with what is going on in those worlds, which will be good for your mind as well as your job search, and you’ll meet new people. And once you have expanded your network, keep it alive so you can help others with their job search or other life challenges as well as having fun.
Just Another “Learning Experience”
And that’s the good news, as far as I’m concerned. When I stop learning new things, life won’t be much fun. You have accomplished very difficult things in your life, you can find a job now. Just keep on learning, and consider that learning a benefit, helping you stay young.
For More Information About Job Search in the 21st Century:
Social Proof: LinkedIn to Your Resume (Job-Hunt.org)
Defensive Googling (Job-Hunt.org)
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of Work Coach ever since. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.