Back in the day, job search was all about the resume and cover letter. Most job seekers spent many painstaking hours creating the perfect template for each one, and proceeded to use them over and over again. On a good day, you remembered to change the company name before submitting. On a bad day, you smacked your forehead, felt like a dummy, and moved on to the next job posting.

Sounds quaint, doesn’t it?

Modern recruitment and talent searches are vastly different. Most processes begin or happen exclusively online. Candidates are asked to fill out forms and applications and submit information electronically. Cover letters are often optional. But what about resumes? Do they still matter?

The short answer is yes. You need to have a document that summarizes your work experience, skills, and accomplishments. But now that document is just one piece of a larger career development picture, and it’s much more fluid.

Say goodbye to the trusty template

Of course you have a basic resume template. But if you’re actively seeking work, it’s going to change each time you apply for a new position. Many recruiters and companies are using Applicant Tracking Systems that scan resumes for key words related to the specific job in question.

The good news is that these systems can help reduce hiring bias by treating each resume the same. The bad news is that you’ve got to up your keyword game and customize your resume accordingly. Unless you’re only looking for positions in a very specific niche, you’re going to need to re-work and edit your resume each time you apply.

Tip for job seekers: Constant resume editing is a breeding ground for typos and mistakes. If you’re a job seeker, the spelling and grammar check is your friend. And if you have a real friend who is willing to take a look as well, even better. Reading your resume out loud will help you identify mistakes like missing punctuation, extra words, awkward phrasing, etc. 

Tip for employers: The days of disqualifying a candidate for a single typo are over. Look at the information in the scope of the larger picture. Are the rest of the desired skills and experience there? What kind of position is this person applying for? Perhaps precision writing isn’t critical to the job. Is English your candidate’s second language? Take that into consideration.

Say hello to LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become a critical job search tool, both for job seekers and recruiters. More than just an online resume, LinkedIn includes valuable information about who you are and what you are like to work with. Recommendations from your network can highlight not just your skills, but other attributes like work ethic, attitude, integrity, and commitment.

Meanwhile, your LinkedIn activity can reveal a lot about what kind of energy you bring to the table.

  • Do you play well with others?
  • Are you interacting in ways that make you a desirable team member?
  • Are your posts and comments negative and snarky or positive and thoughtful?

What’s that you say? You’re not on LinkedIn? That’s a problem.

Whether you’re looking for a new position, to fill an open one, or just happily employed, LinkedIn is an extremely valuable resource. You can make new business connections, join professional groups, and keep up on the latest business news and conversations.

Tips for job seekers: Recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidates by key words, company, position, and job function. They also look at rival companies, industry groups, and even alumni from certain schools. Make sure your profile is up to date and filled out completely. Staying engaged and active on the platform will help build your professional credibility and brand. Treat LinkedIn as an office setting. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t be comfortable saying at work.

Tips for employers: Use LinkedIn to your advantage in the candidate search process. Create a company page that is enticing to potential candidates. Build a network you can go to for quality referrals. Stay in touch with former colleagues and valued staff members. Interviewing a candidate? Check out their profile to find additional attributes and/or potential red flags.

Say yes to the right fit

Talent search isn’t what it used to be, but that’s not a bad thing.

Technology allows the process to be faster, more comprehensive, and more flexible than ever. Take advantage of the tools and information that are available to you and you’ll soon be on your way to finding your dream job. Or your dream candidate.

Photo by Kirill Kedrinski 

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