For most of us, a job search, fortunately, is NOT something we do often enough to be really proficient.
Effective job search methods have changed a great deal because recruiting methods have changed with the dramatic increase in resume retrieval systems ("ATS") and the use of social media.
Resumes and applications which do not meet the requirements of the ATS (applicant tracking system) are ignored.
Job seekers and job candidates who share too much information in social media provide employers with many opportunities to disqualify themselves.
If job seekers don't understand how "the new system" works, they can look out-of-date and less desirable as potential employees. These are the 5 major ways that job seekers can look out of date.
Whether over 50, under 30, or in the middle, job seekers risk looking out-of-date by:
I know several older job seekers who are proud to be invisible in Google. You search Google for their name, and you may find other people (eek!), but you don't find them.
When I warn them of this lack of visibility, each has said to me, "I am protecting my privacy." But, they are invisible in Google and LinkedIn search results, which makes them "missing" -- not found by recruiters looking for job candidates with their qualifications.
Being invisible doesn't protect your privacy. Google your name right now (I call it "Defensive Googling"), and you will see that you are not really invisible. Very likely an information aggregator website but it does make your job search longer and more difficult. NOT good!
A 2018 CareerBuilder study revealed that 20% of employer expect job candidates to have an online presence. That number will increase.
A respected Microsoft study (link below) revealed that 79% of employers in the USA check out applicants using a search engine before considering them for a job!
When employers find something bad, even if the bad stuff is about someone else with the same name, the application (or resume) is rejected.
So, ensure that potential employers can find good stuff specifically about you, created and controlled by you (see # 3 below).
Read Job-Hunt's free Guide to Online Reputation Management and Guide to Personal Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Also, read How to Protect Your Privacy while Job Hunting Online for tips on smartly protecting your privacy, and learn Defensive Googling to avoid or manage this problem.
People often hire someone they already know, at least a little, or someone known to someone they know. Hiring someone from their personal network is usually lower risk. They know the person and their work - or someone they know does.
Many employers even formalize "employee referral programs" to encourage and reward employees who refer someone who becomes a successful employee.
Employee referrals are employers' preferred hiring method because hiring someone who doesn't work out is so expensive. The Internet offers many tools for staying connected, and for re-connecting, with people you liked and respected from your past – Google/Bing, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Not connecting with former colleagues and old friends for your job search? Opportunities lost!
Also, learn more details about how Employee Referral Programs work.
LinkedIn offers people with jobs - and also job seekers – wonderful opportunities to network. For someone who is employed, they may be more effective in their jobs as a result of the connections they make, the visibility they have, and the information they learn through LinkedIn.
For job seekers, LinkedIn offers an opportunity both to showcase their accomplishments, to demonstrate their understanding of how business is done now, and to build their networks.
Recruiters are LinkedIn's number one revenue source, and the reason is obvious. Recruiters can search through LinkedIn to find job candidates with the right sets of skills and experience.
Recruiters searching through LinkedIn offers job seekers a wonderful opportunity to be found, without the effort of finding and applying for jobs -- as long as they use the right keywords for their job search. [Read The Top 25 Keywords for Your Job Search to learn how to leverage their searching.]
And, the best news about a good LinkedIn Profile is that it eliminates the "invisibility" problem (# 1 above).
If you don't have complete LinkedIn Profile that documents your accomplishments and experience, includes the right keywords, and provides "social proof" for your resume, you are losing many opportunities.
Find how-to ideas and help in Job-Hunt's free Guide to LinkedIn for Job Search section.
In the old days (a.k.a. the pre-Internet "Dark Ages"), it wasn't easy to research potential employers, so walking into an interview without anything beyond a basic knowledge of the employer was acceptable (if risky).
Today, walking into an interview without doing extensive research about the employer is a recipe for disaster.
At the very least, consider this research to be enlightened self-defense! Who wants to be the last person hired before the layoffs begin (apt to be the first out the door, and job hunting, again, way too soon).
Visit the employer's website – who, what, where are they? What do they sell/provide? Who are their customers or constituency? Who are competitors? Who are business partners? And, what does Google show about them? A smart, well-prepared job seeker will have at least two well-considered, thoughtful questions to ask during the interview.
If your first question for the employer is, "What do you do?" You have just demonstrated that you are not prepared and, they will strongly suspect, really are not very interested in them or their job. Opportunity lost!
Check out Job-Hunt's free Guide to Successful Job Interviews and The Winning Difference: Pre-Interview Preparation for Your Job Interview for more information.
We are long past the days when a one-size-fits-all resume, listing every job in the work history, worked effectively.
Today, a resume designed to appeal to every possible potential employer instead appeals to none of them. It also seems to demonstrate how long it has been since the job seeker last did a job search – maybe back in the "Dark Ages" before personal computers, word processing software, and the Internet.
Perhaps worse, when the resume isn't customized to the opportunity, it lacks the important keywords that make it find-able in the employers' applicant tracking systems.
The best strategy is to have a list of target employers where you think you would be happy. Then focus your job search efforts on those employers, customizing your resume for each employer and opportunity.
See Job-Hunt's free Guide to Effective Resumes column for expert advice and sample resumes for help.
Job search has changed substantially, particularly since 2015. The combination of increased technology (search engines, social media, and applicant tracking systems) have made it even more important that a job seeker catch up to what's happening NOW. If you aren't up-to-date, you risk having a very long job search.
The Microsoft Privacy Study shows how employers were researching job candidates in 2009, and they haven't backed off in the years since then! In fact, they've gotten more intensive.
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.