Tools for the 21st Century Job Hunt
The rise of the Internet and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn have had a profound impact on the job search process, as have a variety of leaps in modern technology ranging from the introduction of FaceTime and Skype to applicant tracking system (ATS) technology that searches and eliminates resumes based on keyword usage. The fact is that job searching is a radically different process than it was decades ago. In some ways it’s more user-friendly, but it has also simultaneously become more complicated. Here are some of the most significant changes according to career coaches and industry recruiters.
Goodbye Want Ads. Hello Internet.
Baby Boomers and Gen Xers began their job searches without the help of today’s ubiquitous online job boards, LinkedIn, or the myriad of other social media resources. “The go-to source for job openings was the Sunday classified ads,” says professional certified coach Bill Benoist, who works with mid-to-late career professionals.
Combing Through Job Openings Can Be Automated
Don’t have time to sit at a computer and scour online job postings? No problem, job alerts can be sent directly to your smartphone these days, says Tom McGee, vice president for the national executive search firm Lucas Group. “People now can go on all of these websites — Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster — and sign up to have ads sent to them,” explains McGee. “Making it even easier for the candidate to see what’s being posted every day.” What’s more, according to data from Indeed, whether it’s Millennials, Gen Xers, or Baby Boomers, more and more people are using their mobile devices to find jobs, which means employers must optimize job listings for mobile or risk missing out on talent.
Typewritten Resumes Are Long Gone
Fifty years ago, there were no computers with Microsoft Word or Google Docs, says Benoist. “Resumes were typed on a typewriter, and one tried their best to not make any typos because that often meant starting over. And when we were ready to send our resume in, it was done through the US Postal Service or possibly a fax machine.”
Employers Are Using Analytics to Filter Applicants
The internet’s growth has made it easier for thousands of applicants to apply for job openings. To help deal with the flood of responses employers receive these days, they are increasingly relying on what Wired calls people analytics and applying big data analytics to sort through applicants. While there has been criticism of this approach, which allows many job seekers to be overlooked, supporters say use of big data removes evaluator bias and eliminates factors such as race, gender, and religion from the equation.
Job Applications Are Often Sorted and Ranked Automatically
One specific outgrowth of the big data evolution is the implementation of applicant tracking systems. ATS software is used by employers to scan and rank online job applications, often based on keywords. “Rather than having a hiring manager spend 10 to 15 minutes reviewing each application and entering information into a database, some organizations have adopted computerized text analysis,” explains Aimee Gardner, president and CEO of SurgWise Consulting. “Information like degree granted, university attended, years of experience, and skill sets can be scanned and classified in just seconds.” A 2018 report from GlassDoor estimated that 95% of Fortune 500 companies were using an ATS to manage the process.
Employers Are Using Social Media to Create Applicant Profiles
Watch what you post online. Another development tied to the technology’s rise, employers are now creating entire profiles of people based on the individual’s social media presence, says Wired. This is being done even for people who aren’t searching for a job. Companies are compiling their own resumes for candidates by reviewing people’s profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. Using this information, companies then pull in big data to further identify patterns of behavior or skills and interests that would make an individual a good fit for a particular job, says Wired.
It’s Easier to Research Potential Employers
The research capabilities work both ways these days. With the abundance of information now available online, it has become far easier for job searchers to find out everything they need to know about a potential employer well before applying or interviewing. “Job seekers are researching potential employers not only for cultural fit, but for social responsibility initiatives, employee feedback, salary competitiveness, benefit offerings, you name it,” says Heather Becker, a senior consultant for 4 Point Consulting. “Applicants are utilizing available tools to glean information about companies before committing time to a phone screen or face-to-face.”
You Can Now Read Online Reviews of Potential Employers
Need an example of just how much online information is available these days about a potential employer? One of the top developments in terms of creating transparency for the job seeker is the creation of sites like Glassdoor, which was launched in 2008 and provides a wealth of information about companies, including perhaps most notably, detailed reviews from current and previous employees. The site also has a growing database of CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews, benefit reviews, and even office photos.
Online Tools Allow Applicants to Passively Search for Jobs
LinkedIn has brought about many changes with regard to job searching — some good, some bad. One of the positive changes is that you can now be an entirely passive job searcher with a simple click of a button on the social platform. “You can have your LinkedIn set so that companies and recruiters can see you are available, almost like a virtual job fair that runs constantly until you decide to pull it back,” says Lucas Group’s McGee.
Interviews Can Be Done via FaceTime and Skype
Yet another development McGee has noticed in recent years is that most initial interviews are being conducted via Skype or FaceTime, rather than in person. This is often the case until a candidate makes it to the final round of interviews with a potential employer. “Almost everybody and their brother is doing it,” says McGee. “It saves time and money. We can do a lot of interviewing on Facetime or Skype, and then pick the final two candidates and bring them in.”
One-Way Video Interviews Have Become Increasingly Popular
Given that the traditional on-site job interview is a huge time drain for both the organization and candidate, many organizations have turned to one-way video interviews in recent years to quickly and efficiently connect with candidates, says SurgWise’s Gardner. “After meeting initial eligibility requirements for a position, companies can invite a larger number of candidates to the next round of consideration through one-way (asynchronous) interviews,” Gardner explains. “A candidate calls in to a number at a pre-scheduled time, and interview questions are presented in either text, audio, or video form. Applicants have a few seconds to think about an answer, then after a beep must record their responses.”
Interviews Are Being Eliminated Altogether for Some Jobs
In some cases, for some types of jobs, face-to-face interviews are being eliminated entirely, says McGee. This is due in large part to the significant rise of remote working, which according to Gallup, had increased to 43% of American employees as of 2016. “This applies more to lower level or remote jobs and also to the technology field,” explains McGee. “A lot of the positions are non-client facing, so employers can do a Skype interview and hire someone and run with it.”
Employers Are Making the Hiring Process More Fun and Informative
One of the most recent trends, according to HR Technologist, is the focus on the candidate’s job screening experience, says Gardner. In other words, how job seekers perceive and react to an employers’ recruiting, interviewing, and hiring practices has become increasingly important. This has resulted in the “gamification” of the hiring process in some cases. “Knowing that applicants can learn a lot about the company by participating in the selection process, and that they may also be able to convert these applicants into future consumers or clients even if they’re not offered a position, companies are dedicating tremendous resources to ensure applicants have an informative and fun experience,” Gardner said. Rather than complete a grueling five-page questionnaire, companies invite applicants to demonstrate strengths through virtual “games” that assess key skills and competencies.
Curating Your Social Media Profiles Has Become Increasingly Vital
In case it wasn’t made clear enough earlier, with companies searching your online presence long before you even apply for a job, it has never been more important to carefully curate your profile on all social media accounts. Wired suggests managing your profiles specifically with the goal of gaining a job in mind. In other words, use each platform to emphasize your work-related skills and talents, not for posting pictures of that Las Vegas trip.
Networking is Still Essential
In this technology-driven, highly impersonal world, where algorithms are replacing the human element, networking is more important than ever, say career coaches. “Job candidates that enjoy doing business face-to-face still have an advantage,” says Frank Grossman, a career advisor for Resumes That Shine. “Face-to-face meetings still create a much better connection than online and telephone interaction. Job candidates should take advantage of all networking opportunities to meet peers and managers in their business, in person.”