If You Haven’t Searched for a Job in Years, Here’s What You Need to Know:
If it has been a decade or more since the last time you hit the job market, you need to know that times have changed.
You may have searched for your last job in a newspaper. You may have even gone to the local library to print copies of your resume to hand out to business owners. These outdated techniques will not land you a job today.
Instead, you have to adjust to the new tools and techniques of the job hunt.
Job Hunting in the Digital Age
The first thing you need to know is that access to the internet is absolutely necessary for today’s job seekers. You’ll need to look for jobs online, create online profiles to attract employers and recruiters, and even apply to jobs online.
Using a Job Board
Rather than searching through the classifieds, you’ll probably find your next job on a job board. If you’re unfamiliar, these are websites where employers post job ads to attract candidates.
My favorite boards are Indeed and USAJobs, but there are plenty of other boards out there as well. Many boards specialize in jobs in particular industries, so try to find a board that advertises roles in your chosen field.
Regardless of the job board you are using, you will search for job openings by using your job title and other industry-specific keywords. You will want to run searches using several variations of your job title, as different companies will use slightly different titles for the same kinds of roles. If you need help thinking of different titles and keywords to search for, try using O*Net for some insights.
Job boards will allow you to filter your search results according to a few different criteria, with location being one of the most prominent. You can set your search to only return results for jobs within a specific radius of your home. Tip: If you’re having trouble finding jobs, try expanding your search radius by a few miles.
You can also often filter results based on salary ranges. This is a particularly helpful filter, as it ensures you only see jobs that are commensurate with your experience.
On most job boards, you can sign up to receive email alerts about new job posts within your field. This is a great way to ensure you do not overlook any possible openings. I recommend setting up a separate email account for job hunting. That way, your job board alerts — and emails from recruiters and hiring managers — won’t get buried in your inbox.
Writing Your Resume
It’s not enough to send out the same generic resume for each job. Today, employers expect resumes to be tailored toward their specific roles.
Here’s a simple process you can follow to customize your resume for each role:
- First, print out the relevant job ad. Read the document and underline keywords and important items, such as preferred qualifications, keywords used to describe job duties, and application instructions.
- Ensure you meet or exceed the job requirements before moving forward with your application. You may not meet all the preferred qualifications, and that’s okay. As long as you meet most of them, you’ll have a fighting chance.
- Update your resume by inserting keywords you identified in the job ad into your document. The goal here is to highlight how your own work experience reflects the qualifications and job duties listed in the ad.
- Remember to show the value you bring to your employer by quantifying the results of your actions. Do not just list the things you did each day. Quantify the results of your actions with numbers, dollars, percentages, and other relevant figures. Did you save the company money? Boost revenue? Cut down on time? Make that clear!
- As you revise your resume, think about the “so what” of your actions. Do not leave the reader asking, “Why should I care?” Instead, your resume should make the reader think, “Wow, we need to hire this person immediately!”
Tip: Save a master resume copy that contains your entire work history and other relevant professional information. Then, you can use this master resume to create variations for each job.
The exact length of your resume will depend on your industry and job experience, but try not to surpass two pages. Do not go back more than 10 years into your work history. Put the older information on your LinkedIn profile so the hiring manager can find it there, if need be. Do not include any information in your resume that an employer cannot legally ask about, such as age, religious preference, etc.
You want your resume to be error-free, so take your time writing and proofreading it. I use the basic spellcheck feature in Microsoft Word for the first round of edits, and then I use Grammarly for another. Finally, I use Word’s “Read Aloud” feature, which has the computer dictate the document to me. This is where I catch misused words, awkward phrases, and other errors that are easier to find when head out loud.
Some online job ads will have a link directing you to the company’s website to apply, while other job boards will allow you to apply directly through the site itself.
Either way, be prepared to spend time creating a profile, either in the company’s application system or on the job board. It will likely be required. Building your profile, uploading documents, and answering assessment questions can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. Each application is different, so be sure to read the instructions carefully!
Regularly save your information during the process. That way, if you experience a hiccup or technical malfunction, you won’t lose any work.
I like to keep a spreadsheet to track my job applications, listing the company, job title, date of the application, URL of the job ad, and any important notes regarding the application process.
After sending in an application, I recommend you go to LinkedIn and follow the company. Also, try to connect with the hiring manager, if possible.
After a few days have gone by, you may want to connect with the hiring manager to let them know you applied and express your interest in learning more about the job and company.
All in all, the job hunting methods that work today aren’t that much different from those of the past. However, the process has moved entirely online now, which means anyone who has been off the market for an extended period of time needs to be prepared. The tactics you used to get your last job might not work anymore.
Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.