From relying on Facebook to communicate with friends and family to your hairstyle and wardrobe, it’s no secret your world has changed in the past five to ten years.
Now imagine this: the job search has been changing at the same, if not a faster, pace. The good news? Most of the practices that are the “new normal” for job seekers—including brand-building and self-taught skills polishing—make standing out and attracting new opportunities easier.
Here job search experts discuss where they’ve seen the most change and how to use these new tools and trends to your advantage.
1. Understand that you are a brand.
You have skills, both hard and soft, and know-how thanks to years of professional and personal experiences. Your next step? Build your online brand to illustrate what you uniquely bring to the table.
“People are able to make their presence known out in the world in a variety of ways,” says Kelly Poulson, VP, Talent, Allen & Gerritsen, a Boston- and Philadelphia-based advertising agency, and companies now expect to be able to find you at their fingertips. At the minimum, it’s important to have a solid website, an appropriate social media presence, and be active on LinkedIn.
“We’re not all equally resourceful,” she says. “Those who go the extra mile consistently will get attention.”
2. Make sure your social media helps—not hurts—your job search.
From Twitter to Pinterest, “without a doubt, social media has changed the game with job hunting. You will be judged on the way that you present yourself on your social media sites,” says Gretchen Hydo, a career coach in Los Angeles. “Making sure that your personal brand is one that you are proud of and wouldn’t mind an employer viewing is important. This goes for photos, political comments, ‘drunkalogues,’ and anything controversial.”
3. Optimize your resume.
Be strategic with keywords to demonstrate corporate fit and emerge in database searches.
“Employers have to wade through so many more applications and resumes to find the right person than they once did,” says Tessa Wolf, creative director at Framebridge, an online art and framing site, who, as the company’s first employee, was charged with recruiting and interviewing its growing team. Using keywords on your resume that mirrors the language in job descriptions will catch a hiring manager’s eye. This tactic also helps your resume surface when recruiters search who applied via their company’s online portal, called an applicant tracking system (ATS).
4. It’s OK to be self-taught in some areas.
Gone are the days of spending both money and time in a classroom to learn the latest software skills.
“If you want to apply for or move into a specific position, you have the power to research and independently become an expert in the things you’ll need to get there,” Wolf says. “Everything is so much more accessible than it once was.”
You can tap into a wealth of free online classes that can teach you Photoshop, HTML, or how to use Salesforce. Some popular online learning hubs are Coursera.com, edX.org, or Class-Central.com, Wolf says.
5. Culture is king.
In the last decade, “culture” has emerged as an HR buzzword, encompassing everything from the mission that drives the company to whether employee birthdays are celebrated.
“You can either stand out to employers through a personal or professional connection, which can definitely help,” says Wolf, or during the interview, “you can stand out by demonstrating to them that you’re a great culture fit for their company.” Which brings us to…
6. “Stalk” your way to a stellar interview.
What was once a “hit send, cross your fingers, and pray” moment is no longer the last step you take.
“People have the opportunity to learn so much more about potential new employers,” Poulson says. By perusing the company’s website, reading up on press releases, and studying the LinkedIn profiles of current employees, you can learn company lingo and speak like you’re already on the team in interviews. An added benefit? Coming to an interview armed with extra information will allow you to ask more pertinent questions about next steps.
7. The golden rule still abides.
“Who you know is just as important as it ever was,” Hydo says. “Knowing how to find people that you would like to connect with is where the magic happens.”
Hydo says that getting a job is like a sale: “As with all sales, standing out is always key. You are showcasing who you are and your own unique personal brand. There is never anything wrong with sending an email and following up with a call, or getting and asking for an introduction. Introducing yourself in an effective way and asking about jobs that may not be listed are a great way to stand out.”
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