A version of this article originally appeared on CareeerEnlightenment.com.
Job searching has changed dramatically over the past few years. If you want to succeed, you’ll have to take a much different approach than you did previously. Here are 10 things today’s job hunters need to know:
1. Google has replaced the resumé. Recruiters are now using Google and LinkedIn searches to find talent, instead of paying for job-board or talent databases. Many companies are even mandating that every new application go through a Google screening process.
So that means the first page of your Google results matter much more during a job search than they ever did before. I’ve written an article showing how to increase your rank in Google and attract the attention of hiring managers.
2. A summary of your work history is enough. Because there are so many candidates competing for each job, HR people (or hiring managers, if they are tasked with recruitment) often scan resumés very briefly. The average time spent on a resumé is 30 seconds.
LinkedIn gives you a way to create a summary; use it.
3. Social proof is a must. Social proof — the testimonials, endorsements and recommendations of your abilities that appear on social networks — seriously reduce the perceived risk of you as a candidate.
The most costly mistake a hiring manager can make is to give a job to the wrong person. Some say that if a new hire leaves within three months, it costs the organization one and a half times that person’s annual salary. And with the economy as tight as it is, you can understand why hiring managers are so risk averse.
If you don’t have many endorsements and recommendations in your LinkedIn profile, get some before looking for a job.
4. Resumés and cover letters aren’t read on paper anymore. Most organizations are not receiving paper resumés — and when they get them via email or their application system, they don’t print them. So expect your resumé and cover letter to be read on a computer screen.
This means you have to format your resumé and other job-search documents in a way that makes screen-scanning easy. I've written an article that shows you how to format your resumé properly.
5. Relationships come first, resumés second. Resumés are not used as introductory documents much these days. In fact, “send me your resumé” is often an afterthought once an introduction is made.
And if an introduction is made electronically, then your online profile offers much more information than a resumé.
(MORE: The No. 1 Way to Get Hired Today)
So shift your priorities from “I have to get my resumé done!” to “Where can I meet some more people today?”
6. Employers only care about what they want. In years past, a resumé or job application was focused on the job seeker's needs. This is not true any more.
Now an application, resumé or cover letter must speak to what value the prospective employee can bring to the organization. So be sure to demonstrate how you can help the company and how soon it can expect to benefit.
7. Work gaps aren't big problems. Large gaps in your resumé are not as important as they used to be.
Not only do employers today realize that millions of great and wonderful people got laid off, they also appreciate it when those candidates have showed initiative and tried to start their own thing, even if that took time and resulted in a period of unemployment.
8. Nouns are the new currency. Screening software and LinkedIn talent searches have introduced an unexpected element to the way a resumé should be written.
Because these tools rely on nouns or keywords to deliver search results to recruiters, the resumés with the right combination of nouns often win.
If you want to succeed in today’s job search, make a commitment to learn how to research keywords and use them appropriately.
9. Everyone has a personal brand – yes, everyone. Ten years ago, not many people knew what a personal brand was and having one wasn’t easy to explain. (Your personal brand is what sets you apart as a job candidate.) These days, even if you don’t know what your personal brand is, you still have one – as well as an online reputation revealing it.
And because recruiters and hiring managers are looking for red flags, inconsistencies in your image or messaging will prevent you from passing their screening.
So you have to decide, will you be in control of your image or will someone else? I think the Brand-Yourself.com video tutorial is the best tool out there to help you establish your brand.
10. Typing isn’t a skill anymore. Being able to type used to be a skill people would highlight on their resumé. No longer.
What really matters is how well you’ve prepared yourself for the job that's available. To really shine, focus on customizing each resumé and cover letter to the position you’re trying to get.
It’s better to send off a few very targeted applications then it is to spray and pray.
Special thanks to the following people for their valuable insights for this post:
- Sean Harry, career coach and author of Careers 2.0.
- Vicky Lind, career counselor and marketing coach.
- J.T. O’Donnell, founder of Careerealism.com and career coach.