The 21st Century Job Search
By, Dana Stevens
Advancing technology and an evolving job market are changing the way we seek and apply for employment. Online job boards and applications, electronic resumes, social media and video interviewing have created new rules and standards that today’s job seekers need to know to successfully navigate a “virtual” job search landscape.
This article will be the first in a series of articles addressing these changes and how to align your job search techniques with current hiring practices.
Resumes, then and now…
Just 10-15 years ago the Chronological and Functional formats were widely accepted as the only legitimate choices in resume writing. Now in 2016, while there are countless hybrid variations of these traditional formats still being utilized, design enhanced resumes, social media linked resumes, info-graphic resumes, and even video resumes are becoming more common as job seekers attempt to stand out from the crowd by tapping into the latest technological trends.
While standing out is good, keep in mind that an employer is going to spend an initial 6 seconds skimming your resume to decide if you are qualified enough for them to keep reading, you want your resume to be conveying your qualifications and value as a potential employee in that short amount of time rather than distracting the employer with color and graphics. There’s some great employer feedback on this topic from Career Connector, Allison Cheston at Forbes.
Regardless of the format you choose, there is no question that your resume needs to be tailored to the specific position to which you are applying, which will require that you make some modifications to your resume each time you apply for a new position.
Even though there is no longer a “Gold Standard” for resume formatting, there are some universal Do’s and Don’ts that still apply.
Start your resume with a well-written but concise Professional Summary that states what you bring to the table, and how your skills and expertise fit to this specific position. Your goal is to grab the attention of the employer and keep them reading. Lily Zhang, Career Development Specialist at MIT explains how to do this at The Muse.com.
Focus on accomplishments and achievements rather than responsibilities. Think about how you personally made an impact in your last job-what you did that was exceptional and quantifiable. Validate your statements as much as possible with data and numbers. If you think you can’t possibly quantify what you did on your last job, check out Lily Zhang’s article on how to quantify your resume bullets and you will think differently. Even if you are a current student or a new grad with little to no work experience, you can show academic and personal achievements in such a way that the employer will get an idea of your motivation and character. Jacquelyn Smith, Careers Editor, shows us a great example of how new grads can do this at Business Insider.
Keep the content recent and relevant. As a rule, you should only show the last 10 years of your career history and only include work experience that is either directly relevant or that provided you with transferrable skills that are applicable to the position to which you are applying. One of the most important aspects of tailoring your resume is deciding which parts of your education and experience need to be showcased for this particular position and making sure those are top and center. Use bullets, bolding, and italicizing strategically to emphasize what you consider your strongest selling points.
Make sure your document’s file format is compatible for transmission. Most of the time if the employer requires the resume to be emailed or uploaded as a specific file type this will be stated in the application instructions. When in doubt, call the company’s HR Department. Generally either a MS Word document (doc.) or pdf file is your best bet. Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., Creative Director and Associate Publisher gives us a more in-depth look at the technicalities of e-resume file formatting at Quintessential Careers.
Don’t include your address in your contact information. Now that resumes are being emailed, uploaded and downloaded electronically across multiple information systems, this is just common sense for your own privacy and security. Contact information should include a phone number and professional email address as well as other places the hiring manager can find you on the web, like your LinkedIn profile or social media pages – assuming you have updated these profiles to make them suitable for viewing by prospective employers. Mark Valerio has some great tips for cleaning up your social media at Techpros.
Don’t include References….or any reference to References. Your Reference Sheet should be a separate sheet that has the same header as your resume (name and contact info), and should only be included with the resume if the employer specifically requests they be included. Most likely you will only be asked for them when you complete the actual employment application, or at the completion of the first interview.
Don’t worry about the old one-page resume rule. It’s good to keep your resume to one page if possible, but if you have a lot of experience two or more pages may be appropriate. However, if your second page is less than a half a page of material, find a way to condense to one page. Jaime Petkanics gives some great formatting tips to accomplish this at The Prepary.
Finally and most importantly -Don’t send your resume anywhere without proofreading it, at least 2-3 times, preferably more. Let a friend or family member that you know has a good eye for catching errors review it. Unless you are in a time crunch, step away from it for a day or two and then come back to it and review it again with a fresh perspective. The more you edit the more polished your resume becomes and the more effective it will be in getting you to the next step in the job search process-
THE INTERVIEW – to be discussed in our next quarterly article…
The New Face of Interviewing
By, Dana Stevens
The hiring process from start to finish is both costly and time-consuming for employers. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM’s) new Human Capital Benchmarking Report, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129, while the average time it takes to fill a given position is 42 days.
New technologies in video interviewing software are offering employers a dynamic, cost-effective tool to identify their ideal candidates.
Employers are embracing this money and time-saving technology to streamline the recruitment process and enhance the applicant experience. All job seekers should be familiar with the video interviewing process to ensure they know how to use this format to their advantage and not let a camera and screen stop them from making a great impression.
There are basically two types of video interviewing formats, the On-Demand video interview and the Live video interview.
- On-demand or Pre-recorded video interviewing: Candidates are invited to sign onto the platform from their home computer and record video responses to a series of automated questions that the employer has entered into the system. Many employers allow candidates to practice and re-record their answers, and candidates are usually allowed a day or two to complete the interview. This format offers convenience for both the employer and the applicant, as neither party is required to travel and can work the time involved around their existing schedule. This is often referred to as a “Video Cover Letter” and employers prefer to utilize this format during the initial screening phase of the recruitment process.
- Live or “real-time” video interviewing: Candidates are invited to participate in a live, on-line interview at a specific time. This format is the same as a traditional interview except you are face-to-face via video camera. Employers prefer this format and in-person interviews as the applicant advances through the hiring process.
There is an abundance of information available online regarding general interview preparation:
- If you are a visual learner, you might like this Info graphic of Interview Tips from The Savvy Intern.
- If you love a simple checklist, The Daily Muse has that option as well, with an Interview Prep “Cheat Sheet” that you can download and print. There’s also a quick video with some straight-forward advice from communication experts.
- Your interview outfit is CRUCIAL whether you are interviewing in person or on camera. Lisa Quast at Forbes offers a great video and article on how to Dress for Interview Success.
Preparation for a video interview will be the same as preparing for a traditional interview but with some additional technical accommodations.
Tips for a successful video interview:
Test the technology – If you haven’t used your webcam recently you might want to conduct a practice session with a friend or family member well before the real interview to work out any bugs and get comfortable with talking to the screen. Usually once you’ve received an invite to a video interview the link is live and you can sign in and check out the environment well ahead of time. Often the employer will provide links to helpful informational material for you to peruse.
Put a blank wall behind you – The last thing you want is the interviewer being distracted by the artwork on the wall behind you or anything else that might seem interesting. You want their undivided attention on you and what you are communicating so the best backdrop for your video interview is nothing.
Prepare the environment – A bright light or well-lit window behind the camera will prevent any unflattering shadows being cast onto your face. If you are at home, alert household members of the pending interview and request their respectful silence. Close the door and put a “Quiet Please” sign on it to remind any passers-by. There should be no pets or electronics that can make noise in the room with you.
Dress entirely for the interview – We’ve all heard the funny stories about people who only dress from the waist up for video interviews, but seriously, you want to be dressed as if you are interviewing in person. There is no question that how you are dressed affects how you feel and how you present yourself. If you have pajama pants on you will not be able to take yourself seriously and you will project this in the interview.
Watch your body language – Just as you would for an in-person interview, pay close attention to your posture and non-verbal communication. Sit on a hard stool or chair so you won’t be tempted to slouch or get too comfortable. Lean in slightly, and keep a steady gaze. Try not to gesture too much as you are speaking, “talking with your hands” is very distracting, especially on camera.
Print notes and close all other programs– Print out all necessary notes regarding the company and the position, and your resume of course, to have close by for reference if needed. Live streaming and video applications require a lot of computer usage; close all unnecessary programs to ensure your interview proceeds smoothly and without interruption.
Make yourself prompts – Put a few sticky notes on the computer screen to remind yourself of important points that you want to make sure you touch on, questions you want to ask at the end and maybe a smiley face to remind yourself to smile!
The most important thing to remember is to treat the video interview just like an in-person interview. Don’t let the environment distract you from the importance and formality of the situation.
With the efficiency and convenience that it brings to both employers and applicants not to mention the considerable savings in time and money, it’s safe to assume that the popularity of video interviewing will continue to grow. With practice and the right preparation video interviewing can be an enjoyable experience that leads to the exciting phone call when you will hear, “You got the job!”
Our next quarterly article will discuss how to put your best foot forward once you have that job with advice directly from employers on how to be successful in the workplace.