Young businesswoman working at her desk

If you haven’t looked for a job in a while, you might be surprised at how much has changed. The internet has opened up a new frontier in job hunting, and it’s all about transparency. Not only can people find out about you, but you can find out about the people and companies you’re interviewing with to see if they’re a good fit. Plus, you can often track down other insider info that can help you stand out as a candidate.

But this availability of crucial job information is just one of the changes in today’s job hunt. Read on for more suggestions for using technology to boost your job search in 2018.

Putting Your Best Foot Forward

Your success in job hunting is likely to be directly tied to how you present yourself in your application – and that means having a robust LinkedIn profile as well as a stellar résumé and cover letter. Here are some 21st century tips for how to shine in these areas.

LinkedIn

If you’re not on LinkedIn, you should be. That’s because 500 million other people are – including, in all likelihood, the person who’s hiring for the job as well as the recruiters.

You’ll want to make sure your LinkedIn profile represents you at your best. There are three main areas to pay attention to:

  • Your photo: This is not the time to show the world you’re a proud mom or a dog lover. Keep the photo strictly professional – preferably a headshot. And while selfies can be fun, they often aren’t taken at the most flattering angle. Instead, hand the camera to someone else and let them snap away.
  • Your headline: While most people put their title here, it’s OK to add a little pizzazz. So instead of saying you’re the “Marketing Director,” why not let them know you’re a “Creative, results-focused marketing director who manages a staff of five amazing professionals”? The reason that embellishment works is because this headline is what pops up whenever someone searches your name or sees one of your posts.
  • Your summary: Feel free to make this equally robust, expanding on your job function to include the type of coworker you are, the type of challenges you like, and the projects and clients that are a great fit.

And then, of course, you’ll want to make sure your work history and other sections are filled out. But making a good first impression is all about wowing with the first three parts.

Your Résumé

No, résumés aren’t dead. It’s just highly unlikely you’ll be using a paper résumé, unless you print a copy and bring it to the interview itself. And in most cases, your résumé isn’t even being read by a “live” human, at least initially. These days, most companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to decide who gets the interview. That means that your résumé has to pass the “robot test.” Here are three steps that could help:

  • Use the right buzzwords. You want them to know you’re exactly who they’re looking for, so don’t shy away from mirroring the words they use in their job ad, from position title to areas of expertise.
  • Use the right layout. Plain and simple, that means no tables, fancy fonts, images or creative bulleting.
  • Fill in all sections. Don’t leave a whole section blank. Think of something to add in each area.

Since it can be easy for an ATS to screen you out for reasons you’ll likely never even know about, it’s always smart to also try to send your application materials directly to a person as well. Call the company to find out if the HR department will divulge who’s heading the search or see if one of your LinkedIn connections might know someone who works there. Getting your résumé in the hand of someone at the company – anyone – and asking them to pass it on to the appropriate hiring manager is always going to give you a leg up.

In this case, you’ll be emailing a copy of your résumé and hopefully eventually bringing it to the job interview. While conventional wisdom presumes that your résumé should be on one page, it’s acceptable now to have it a bit longer, especially if it’s being viewed online. A hard copy résumé that’s printed front and back should be fine, too. Chances are good you’ll be walking the interviewer through it anyway.

The Cover Letter

And yes, these also still exist. Here’s why they’re important: They allow some of your personality to shine through in a way that a résumé doesn’t, and they also allow you to show off your knowledge of the company. A cover letter doesn’t have to be long. The goal is to get the interviewer to want to look a little more closely at your résumé. Make sure to personalize it by mentioning attributes you have that would make you a good fit for the position and also add in some specifics about the company that you’ve culled from online research.

Many ATS systems will also have a place where you can attach a cover letter, and it’s important not to overlook that step. Prospective employers want to see that you’re going the extra mile.

Networking for Success

Of course, while job searching online has to be a key part of your strategy, don’t forget the benefits of good old-fashioned networking. In fact, you might be surprised to find that 85% of jobs are found via networking. Of course, the very word “networking” can be off-putting if it makes you think of the old days of glad-handing and collecting business card after business card.

The good news is that today networking is about quality over quantity. So if you’re at a luncheon, forget about trying to work the room and grab as many cards as you can. Instead, spend your time having more meaningful conversations with fewer people. That’s the best way to ensure you’ll stand out in their mind. Then, after you’ve returned to your office, follow up with a short email and send an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. It’ll allow you to keep in touch and continue building a relationship. The time to build your network is before you need it, so never hesitate to spend time reaching out to former colleagues, clients and others with whom you’ve crossed paths.

By staying in touch with a periodic email and a link to an article that might interest them, you’re bound to stay top of mind.

Conducting Interview Prep

Great news! You’ve been called in for an interview, whether because of that amazing résumé or the great contacts you’ve networked with. This is where you can turn the tables and use the internet to do your own recon. There are two main sites to pay attention to.

LinkedIn

Always check out the LinkedIn page of the company you’re interviewing with and the person who’s interviewing you. It’s a smart practice because you’re likely to find good fodder for small talk, whether it’s about the fundraiser the company just hosted with a favorite nonprofit or the fact that you and the interviewer attended the same college. Not only will you come to the interview confident and prepared, but you’re likely to have made a positive impression if the interviewer noticed you visited his or her page.

Glassdoor

Wondering if the new position earns a fair wage or how the team feels about your prospective boss? Glassdoor.com is the place to go for all the details on whether the company is truly the workplace of your dreams – or is bound to be a nightmare. Of course, we can’t believe everything we read online, but it’s worth noting if the company is notorious for requiring crazy hours or, conversely, if employees are raving about the work environment.

It’s also a great place to collect salary data that can help you form a solid picture of what the going rate is for your role so you’re in the strongest possible negotiating position. Arming yourself with data from sites like this or PayScale.com and SalaryExpert.com can help you create a strong case for why you deserve a certain salary, based on what other people in your region with similar job titles are being paid.

And when you’re negotiating, don’t overlook the importance of a strong benefits plan. Believe it or not, benefits can account for up to 30% of your compensation.

Finishing Strong

So the interview is over, and you think it went great. The first thing to do is send a thank-you note. Now, a handwritten, hand-addressed note is going to be powerful when we rarely get mail anymore. But sometimes hiring decisions are made quickly, so you don’t want your thanks to be delayed. That’s why it’s wise to send an emailed thank-you note shortly after the meeting, but remember that a written follow-up is bound to make an impression.

If you’ve interviewed with several people, send the email and note to each of them individually. If at all possible, take surreptitious notes during the interview so you can remember who’s who and find some way to personalize it to each recipient. The goal of the thank-you note is to reiterate your interest in the position, but it’s also a great way to include any information that you might not have mentioned during the interview that would make you a stand-out candidate.

Job hunting can be a challenge, but it can also be exciting as you consider the new doors that are being opened. And when it comes right down to it, only the tools have changed. The fundamentals of job hunting – being persistent and showcasing the best you have to offer – remain the same.

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