Over the last 10 years, the game we call job hunting has changed considerably. Thanks to the Internet, there’s a whole new set of rules and strategies, and if it’s been a while since you’ve put yourself out there and gone looking for work, you might be surprised by how different things are.
“There are aspects of your resume and online profile that can easily date you if you don’t take steps to update your approach,” writes Marcelle Yeager in a terrific U.S. News & World Report post titled “How Job Hunting Has Changed In the Last Decade.” Luckily, Yeager outlines some of the biggest changes to be aware of, and by sticking to her advice, you’ll lessen your chances of being rejected like some old dinosaur.
Yeager begins by looking at resumes. Because many companies have cut back on HR, you’ve got to make an impression in about 30 seconds. Be sure you have a good career summary highlighting your skills and achievements and short job descriptions written with employers in mind. What about you and your history will they find most interesting? Use keywords you see over and over again in the “requirements” and “skills” sections of job postings, and don’t send the same resume for each opportunity. Also, unless it’s specified, don’t write “references available on request” or brag about your basic computer skills — these things will only make you look out of touch.
You’ll also need to address gaps in work history, since employers will notice. “You don’t need to go into excruciatingly personal detail, but it’s a good idea to address layoffs if you’ve had a series of them and personal issues that have resulted in work gaps,” Yeager writes.
Next up, Yeager looks at the Internet. Make sure you’ve got a clean digital footprint, and that your LinkedIn page is one of the first things that pops up when someone Googles your name. Speaking of LinkedIn, Yeager devotes a whole section to the platform, which she says “helps you establish a personal brand beyond your resume and can include additional information that doesn’t belong or fit on a resume.” Be sure to write a profile that touches on your skills and accomplishments and shows a bit of your personality.
While you’re online, you’ll of course want to do lots of networking. While this has always been important, it’s even more vital now, as blindly applying for jobs won’t yield the same results as using connections to hear about openings and get recommendations. You basically want to “find people who are doing what you want to be doing and talk to them about what they do,” as Yeager writes, and while you can do a lot of this online, it’s great to meet with people and cultivate genuine relationships.
Finally, Yeager turns her attention to letters — which are becoming less important but are still worth thinking about. As with resumes, the idea is to be concise and simply provide the relevant info, though Yeager says you shouldn’t just rehash your CV. Give potential employers fresh info — ideally by using bullet points to “offset the skills and values you offer.”