Hey, it’s finally spring! The change of seasons also marks one of the year’s hiring spikes. A new crop of graduates leave school looking to start their first full-time jobs. People who’ve put off making a change through the winter dust off their resumes and look for something new. 18% of Canadian employers surveyed by Manpower recently said that they planned to increase staff over the coming months.

So, if it’s time to make a fresh start for your career in the spring of 2015, here are some essentials for landing a new job this year:

  • Demonstrate that you have the soft skills that employers say they’re looking for
  • Highlight your digital skills: Computer and documentation usage, communications and social media savvy
  • Tailor your resume specifically for the needs of each job that you apply for
  • Google yourself: Be present (and presentable) on social media sites
  • Tap your network for information and opportunities

Here’s why these matter so much:

– Promote your soft skills

Two-thirds (67%) of Canadian executives surveyed by Workopolis told us that they are having trouble finding candidates with the right attitude, work ethic, communication skills and team working abilities. Teamwork and collaboration turns up in 93% of job postings. You can really stand out from the crowd by demonstrating that they have all of those qualities in all of their interactions with employers.

You can do this by making sure that your resume is well-written and error free. Highlight the times you’ve gone the extra mile in order to accomplish goals. Focus on your collaboration with successful teams. Use the job interview to demonstrate your positive attitude, enthusiasm and work ethic.

– Highlight your computer skills and tech savvy

The new basic literacy is digital literacy, for a growing number of occupations. Make sure that your resume demonstrates your abilities with essential software such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Documentation usage, spreadsheets and presentations can be critical skills across industries. Social media skills and the demonstrated ability to use the latest communications tools effectively can also make you a stand-out candidate. [See: The skills you need to add to your resume to get hired in 2015]

– Personalization is essential: Tailor your resumes and applications specifically for the job

Employers can easily spot a generic application and they are seldom impressed by it. What they want to see is a document that tailors your skills and experience specifically to the job that they posted, and that demonstrates what you can do for them.

List your accomplishments, not your duties at your previous roles. Hiring managers know what job descriptions match your old job titles. The unique and interesting part is what you alone accomplished in that role. What set you apart? What have you done, learned or accomplished there that can be particularly useful to your potential new employer? Tell them that.

– Clean up your profiles

Google yourself. Can you find yourself? Do you like what you see?

A recent study found that 93% of hiring professionals have checked out a candidate’s profile on a social network as part of the screening process. 69% said they have rejected a candidate based on content found on a profile, while 68% said they have actually hired a candidate based on the same.

What they say that they really don’t want to see:

  • inappropriate photos,
  • inappropriate comments,
  • lying (facts that disprove what you claim in your resume),
  • displays of poor communication skills,
  • posting content about drinking and drugs.

So, be present (and presentable) online. Social media can give you lots of opportunities to expand your network and communicate your thoughts, so use the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of your field. Comment on the latest news and developments in your industry. Write and share your own blog pieces. Show that you are truly interested in your specialty and aware of what is going on.

– And beyond social networking sites, actually network

Like it or not, knowing the right people is always going to be an advantage when it comes to getting hired.

Most experts agree that only 15-20% of all available jobs are actually advertised to the public. Networking is the best way to tap into the vast supply of opportunities known as the ‘hidden job market.’ With such a large percentage of jobs going unadvertised, word-of-mouth referral is among the surest way to land a new job.

This doesn’t mean that you have to be attending industry conferences and swapping business cards (although doing some of that certainly isn’t a bad idea.)

What you need to have is a built-up set of professional connections who think highly of your work and abilities in your field, who would love to work with you or recommend you to others. This is achieved through the connections you make in school, while working, in your community activities and on social networks. It is accomplished through authentic interactions, and it takes time to build a genuine and powerful network.

So networking isn’t something to start to do when you’re looking for a job, it should be a part of ongoing career maintenance.


Peter Harris
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