9 Ways You’re Still Job Searching Like It’s 1999

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Still adding onto your old resume and chasing job postings? Struggling to leverage LinkedIn? You might be among the masses of applicants running 1990s-era job searches.

Here are some signs you might be using seriously outdated techniques, along with ideas for changing your thinking:

1. You Still Think Your Resume Is About You

Employers care about what you offer, but they care about their own needs far more. If your resume uses jargon only you understand and a format dating back to Bill Clinton’s presidency, employers will tune out.

Instead, align your resume and LinkedIn profile with industry and employment market expectations. Target conservative employers with a classic format; add more flash for a marketing or creative job. Drop insider lingo and add industry keywords. Limit work history to the past 10-15 years and summarize earlier experience.

The best way to get a second look? Highlight the skills employers need, such as your ability to motivate teams, lead large projects, cut costs, or generate profits.

2. You Misuse or Ignore Social Media, Particularly LinkedIn

If you can’t recall the last time you signed into LinkedIn, you’re already behind the curve. Nudge yourself out of your comfort zone and update your LinkedIn profile ASAP.

In addition, be careful with online rants. Recruiters will vet you on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Rejecting LinkedIn connection requests? Reconsider your strategy. It pays to be well-connected.

3. Your Resume Aims at Too Many Targets

If you still think a “general” resume is useful, stop! Your wide range of skills might be impressive, but your resume must speak to employers’ immediate needs. For example, companies hiring sales managers need revenue-generating expertise. In that context, your IT, accounting, or engineering skills could be distracting.

If your skills are strong enough to pursue multiple career goals, create a version of your resume tailored to each goal. Otherwise, you’ll lose out to applicants who’ve made the same goal their entire career ambition.

4. You Think No Resume Should Exceed One Page

Back when resumes were career obituaries, single-page resumes were the norm. They’re now marketing documents focused on personal branding and future-facing skills. As such, it is okay to employ multiple pages, a dash of color, and cutting-edge formats. Take a look online at sample resumes for inspiration.

5. You Use Interviews as Practice Rather Than Preparing for Them

SearchNothing says “unprepared job seeker” more than an applicant who can’t field basic questions. If your idea of interview practice is going in cold and stumbling your way through queries, it’s time for a change.

Read up on common interview questions and best practices. Who knows? That next interview might be more than just a practice run.

6. You Spend Most of Your Time Following Job Ads

Responding to job ads can make it difficult to stand out, especially when employers filter responses using applicant tracking systems.

Rather than chasing job postings, look for companies that need your skills, even if they’re not advertising open roles at the moment. Use Google to search employers by industry and location. Read market news and annual reports, then tailor your resume to company needs. Find company employees on LinkedIn, send them notes of interest, and follow up. You’ll reap far better ROI on your efforts.

7. You Rarely Monitor Your Online Identity

People with similar names may pop up when recruiters and employers search for you online. This can derail your job search if these other people have unsavory pasts – like committing a high-profile crime, perhaps.

Now that a strong digital presence is a must for winning interviews, you need to be certain your online identity is unique and easily found. You may need to use a middle initial, build a thought leadership brand with LinkedIn articles, and take other means to distinguish yourself online.

8. You Think a Recruiter Will ‘Find’ You a Job

Recruiters find candidates for jobs, not jobs for candidates. Since employers pay recruiters to find specific talent with certain kinds of industry experience, your background may not fit the roles recruiters seek to fill.

If you’re trying to make a career change, your best bet is a strategically written resume and avid networking, not calling a recruiter.

9. You Continue to Employ the Same Methods, Expecting Different Results

The job search has changed forever, and you’ll need to keep pace. Using LinkedIn? Be sure to filter what you say in groups and updates. Applying online with no results? Weigh your skills against competitors via LinkedIn research to see if you’re aiming over your head and adjust your goals accordingly. Sending out a canned cover letter? Read about new techniques, including the cutting-edge e-note.

No matter your occupation, it’s a given the job search has become more challenging. Make this year the one where you break free of outdated habits and land the position of your choice.

Award-winning executive resume writer Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CIC, TCCS, CPBA, COPNS, CTTCC, of An Expert Resume  partners with executives and rising leaders to help them land choice jobs through powerful personal branding.

By Laura Smith-Proulx