Not your dad’s job market: how to job search in the 21st century

Written by Andrew Bullis
Posted on

Simply sending out waves of resumes isn’t enough to catch an employer’s attention. With increasingly competitive job markets, the traditional approach to job hunting is no longer relevant.

According to an AdWeek survey, 92% of recruiters and hiring managers are using social media to recruit and screen candidates.

This means that awesome profile pic of you living it up at this year’s homecoming is probably hurting your chances at employment, but it also means you have to do more than advertise that you’re just a well-adjusted and reliable hire. You have to be a stand-out candidate.

Build your personal brand

The act of personal branding is determining how companies will see and think of you. It’s showcasing you — your interests, philosophies, and style – the way you want to be showcased. Everyone has a brand. From giant companies to individual celebrities. But if you don’t define it for yourself, someone else will.

You have to determine what impression you want a hiring manager to have when they view your profile. Yes, the ultimate goal is to stand out with eye-catching photos, posts, and headlines, but they still need to be appropriate.

“When you’re looking for a job, make sure you have your personal social media pages cleaned up,” says Shawn D’Souza, Talent Acquisition Manager at Workopolis. “It’s also important to follow the social media profiles of companies that interest you, and to share content that they might be interested in.”

Consistency is also encouraged. Essentially, you want to present yourself in a coherent package across various social media platforms. Using the same name and profile picture is a good start. This will allow recruiters to easily peruse your digital presence. To make it easy, you could go all out and use tools like KNOWEM to check for and reserve your desired username on over 25 social channels. Beyond LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook is an overlooked resource for connecting with your industry.

Another good tip is to branch out – don’t limit your social media presence to companies. You should also be researching and connecting with people that share similar values and philosophies. This is a form of networking, and it can help with future job searches.

Use your phone to search for jobs

By using mobile-friendly sites, job alerts, social media, and apps to find the latest open positions, you can be among the first to know when a position you’re interested in becomes available.

“Mobile can be very handy when searching for jobs, but when you apply for a position, it’s better to tailor your cover letter and resume to the job you’re applying for, and this is much harder to do on mobile,” says D’Souza.

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Education is not as important as experience, skills, or fit

Recruiters spend their time digging through stacks of the same old, same old. They also spend, on average, about 10-seconds skimming resumes. You’ve got to stand out, and you’ve got to do it fast.

Padding out your resume with volunteer experience, internships, co-ops, and side gigs illustrates varied interests and experiences, which can make you a stronger candidate than someone who only has an honours degree.

Lastly, fit is an incredibly important factor for employers. ‘Fit’ is what it sounds like. Do you, as a person, align with the company’s values? Does it seem like you would gel with the current company culture?

“When you’re invited for an interview, research the company’s culture and dress to impress — wear their colours and do some research on their employee branding. How you fit in is a very important aspect for employers these days,” says D’Souza.

Leverage online portfolios

If you’re a creative type, an online portfolio is an absolute-must. It offers you the chance to showcase your selected works and is incredibly easy to share. A link on a resume or cover letter goes a long way towards gaining traction in a recruiter’s eyes.

WordPress, PortfolioBox, and Squarespace are all cost-efficient, tried and true platforms for building clean, professional looking online portfolios.

Look out for industry communities

Aside from job boards like Workopolis, an effective approach to finding a job might be to seek out industry communities and message boards.

Just keep it relevant – you don’t want to join an erotic bakery message board (unless you never want to look at an apple strudel the same way). Focus on your long-term goals and you’ll be surprised at the amount of support you can find from like-minded individuals.

Video killed the resume star

Whether it’s the recently launched Workopolis video screening service, or simply a Skype meeting, video interviews are becoming much more popular. Video interviews give employers a chance to see and hear applicants before meeting them in person.

This might seem odd, but you need to treat this as you would any other interview – it’s about more than just talking about yourself. You have to make it clear what you can bring to the company. So ask questions that you can’t find the answers to online. What are a company’s struggles? How can you help?

If you’re not the strongest public speaker, check out some of these interview tips from the Toronto Academy of Acting.

Job searching in today’s market is about more than just being qualified or even “the right person for the job.” It’s about being the most engaged, the most interested, and the best fit for an organization – all at once, and how you present yourself can be half the battle.

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See also:

How to land a job before you even graduate
6 surprising ways you can find your next job through Facebook
The 10 most in-demand jobs in Canada (and what you can earn from each)

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