Career Advice

Are There New Rules To Job Searching?

The answer to this question is yes – and no.

Competition in the employment market combined with advances in internet technology have resulted in major shifts in the way we look for jobs; but make no mistake, the basics of job seeking remain alive and well.  So what are the basics?  Let’s review them, and then we can get down to new rules.

The Basics:

  • Be sure to have an error free résumé and cover letter to present for new opportunities. While this seems obvious, many people fail to put in the necessary effort to make their résumé outstanding. A document that is grammatically perfect and error free is a good first step. If you need to print hard copies, use good résumé paper and be sure your printer provides a clean copy.
  • Assuming you are sending your résumé and cover electronically, your résumé should be in Word.doc format, but you should also have an ASCII text version for use on websites that require you to cut and paste, and upload. A PDF is a good idea as well; most applicant tracking systems cannot read this file format so save this version for direct contact with hiring managers.
  • Reach out to those you know in order to identify new opportunities – your network. Attend area functions and let others know you are job hunting. Look for advertised positions online and possibly in the newspaper (yes – there still are a few help wanted ads depending upon your field.)
  • Always send thank you notes after an interview. While email is fine, handwritten notes are a great traditional way to make a positive impression.

New Rules:

  • Get creative. In this job market you cannot simply post your résumé on Monster, answer a few ads, and expect to get hired. Those days are gone.  You must take a proactive approach to job seeking. Identify the companies you want to work for.  Find out who the hiring managers are.  Send emails, faxes, and even overnight letters to draw attention. Don’t be a stalker, but do get yourself noticed as best you can.
  • Consider adding a digital résumé to your career portfolio that includes a multimedia presentation. Many professionals have found this creates a new avenue for marketing themselves and establishing that all important brand presence. The digital résumé has not replaced the traditional résumé and will probably not do so any time soon, but it does allow candidates to provide employers with more in-depth information in a compelling format.
  • Another new technique for job seekers is personal branding.  Personal branding involves the use of blogging, social media participation, and other “brand defining” activities to gain a reputation that can then be leveraged when seeking career opportunities.
  • Network using social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) in addition to traditional methods.  Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to snuff.  Put a professional photo online. Reach out directly to potential hiring managers and former coworkers to identify new leads and uncover the hidden jobs. Participate in group discussions, ask and answer questions, or participate in a LinkedIn poll to let others know the value you offer.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of conducting a job search that is thorough and comprehensive. If you stick with the old school method for getting a job, it is as if you are looking for a job with one eye closed and one hand tied behind your back.  Depending upon your personality, you may find some of these suggestions to be a bit intimidating. Many of my clients felt uncomfortable initially with the new rules of job search, but like anything, once you learn it becomes easier.

Because most people are aware that the current economic conditions make job seeking tough, you would be amazed out how helpful they are. Don’t be afraid to ask for leads and reach out to as many potential contacts as possible. As the saying goes, it is not what you know, it is who you know. See, some things never change!