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The New Rules for Job Hunting in the Digital Age

Job hunting in the digital age

Job hunting is nothing like what it used to be. Your parents might still believe in "knocking on their door and handing out resumes", but it doesn't work like that anymore. Nearly all job search communications occur electronically nowadays, so you have to make sure you're doing things correctly if you want to stand a chance when applying to jobs! With so much change, here are the new rules for job hunting in the digital age.

1. Maximize keyword visibility on your resume

Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS, are systems and programs that filter resumes to determine whether a hiring manager sees your application. It sounds difficult, but it's not hard to craft your resume so that your submission makes it past any ATS. Make sure that you have specific keywords relating to the position or industry that you're applying for. Having keywords that specifically target your job prospect is a great way of getting past the ATS barrier. To make sure your resume is compatible with ATS, submit it in .doc format, and remember to run that spell check beforehand! Getting a friend to read your resume for grammar and spelling errors always helps.

2. Make your resume readable

Ideally, you would want your resume to be optimized for both the hiring manager AND the ATS system. What this means is that you load up your resume with the relevant keywords (don't overdo it though), but you still maintain readability so that a recruiter can look at it easily. On average, a recruiter will spend just a few seconds scanning a resume for job title, company and dates on your current and last role (yep, about the same amount of time as it takes to read this sentence!). Make it easy for them to find the information they're looking for by using a clean and uncluttered format with the most recent information first.

3. Search for jobs

There are a LOT of different sites to choose from online when you want to apply for jobs, with companies often posting their job ads on multiple jobs boards. Make sure you provide all relevant detail so that you stand out in traditional job boards, as you'll typically find that the number of job applications received through those channels will be higher than others.

In the digital age, however, you can find out a lot more than just the information in job ads. The job hunt has become a two-way process, with resources such as social media, Glassdoor and Vanna giving you more information on companies, from which you can decide if they are a good fit.

4. Reach out for references

Another way to apply for jobs is to seek references or people you know who already work in specific companies. When applying, make sure you add their name as a possible referral (with their prior consent first though!). This can go a long way in getting your foot in the door to a new company.

A great tool to look for referrals is LinkedIn. Search for people who work at the company that you want to apply to and see if anyone in your network has a mutual connection with them! Ask if your contact can introduce the two of you. This is a great way to find both a reference that can put in a good word for you and more information on the company.

5. Get ready for video interviews

Many companies do the first interview remotely. For HR, it’s an efficient way to quickly whittle down their long list of candidates before inviting successful applicants to a face-to-face meeting with senior members of the business. In the digital age, telephone interviews are fast being replaced by video interviews on Skype. These are hard! It’s difficult to tell body language and the whole thing often feels unnatural. Remember to sit somewhere with a neutral background, dress in normal interview attire and maintain ‘eye contact’ by looking directly at the camera when talking. If in doubt, get set-up and practice with a friend!

6. Things to avoid

With the ability to send off resumes at the click of a button, it’s tempting to use a standard resume for every job. Don’t do this! Slight tweaking and customization can help set you apart from the rest of the applicants. When you tailor your resume to each job, make sure you read the job description thoroughly so that you can translate your experiences and history into a position where you'll benefit that company. It really is quality over quantity!

Similarly, another mistake to avoid is sending a lot of emails instead of several tailor-made inquiries. As a hiring manager, if I don’t think you have the time to look for a specific post that you'd like to do, why should I help you look for a job? More often than not, this approach causes a lot of unsuccessful leads.

Lastly, make sure your online presence is clean and pristine. LinkedIn is an important one to keep tidy, as it's the main source of information when recruiters Google you. It’s also a good idea to set your Facebook or Twitter profile to private if there's information there that you don't want people to see!

Chris Chu

Freelance writer, passionate about professional and personal development.

5 min read

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