How my job search forced me to catch up with tech
After working in the entertainment industry for 25 years and taking a Covid-forced break from looking for work, I recently started looking for stable employment. The job site Indeed reports that the average duration of a job search is 20 weeks. I am now about a quarter of the way through these 5 months.
The first step I took in my new job search was to have coffee with a friend who had just completed their own successful job search. During the two hours we spent together, I took a few pages of notes. I’ve learned (or been reminded of) that a computer scan is the first step that occurs after you submit a resume when applying for a job. You might know this already, but here are a few more tips I learned.
Make sure your CV is worthy of being scanned
First of all, when you apply for a job online, as most of us do now, a computer reads your resume before human eyes see it. An automated software called an Applicant Tracking System scans your resume for keywords related to the position you’re applying for. The system scans resumes to find the one that best matches a position. It is essential that your CV contains appropriate buzzwords and that it is professionally written.
This can be a difficult task, especially if you are trying to change careers or fields. In my case, I took my friend’s advice and used a resume writing and review service. They redesigned my CV to make it as technologically friendly as possible without sacrificing readability. Since my background is in marketing, my resume now includes keywords for this industry. My CV is also better formatted. The service is chargeable and the package I chose included a resume redesign, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile update. There are many options for additional companies that provide these services; even LinkedIn offers them.
The process of getting my resume, cover letter, and updated LinkedIn profile took about a week. Once the documents were in hand, I used another service to post my CV on several job boards, especially the ones I might have missed if I had to do everything myself. Again, I would have spent hours doing what this service is set up for quickly. Using it, my resume was posted on 50 career sites. Of course, you don’t have to spend any money to do this, but it helped broaden my search.
LinkedIn is your friend
Many, if not most, recruiting companies rely on LinkedIn to learn about and connect with candidates. You really have to have a profile. A free account is fine, but the premium tier offers features like direct messaging to recruiters, interview prep tools, and candidate information so you can see how you stack up against other candidates. Employers will likely be looking to see if you have a page. They will want to read your employment story. Yes this is a social media site so yes engagement is key. Participate by commenting on other people’s posts, posting your own stories, or writing an article relevant to your industry, knowledge or experience. Plus, join and participate in professional groups related to your field. This social media networking is an important aspect of your job search. Also use the platform’s recommendation feature. This allows others (former employers or co-workers) to recommend you. For good karma at work, you should also recommend people you know. And while you’re on LinkedIn, don’t forget that there are other sites as well. Monster, Indeed, Glassdoor and FlexJob are just a few. (The AARP also has a job search page available to its members.)
Social media can help too
While LinkedIn deserves its own mention, other social media platforms are helpful as well. Pay close attention to how you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social media platform where you are present. Are there any friends or acquaintances who are doing something that you would like to do? Could you ask them for benchmarks? Is there a favorite brand, company or business that you follow? Maybe they will mention the positions they have opened. Watch for other people’s posts. There might be a potential job or a good job idea that arises. And join groups that could lead you to your next job.
Draw closer to your past
Then start contacting people you know. You want to let people know that you are looking for a job. Like I did when I met my friend for coffee, approach family, friends, former employers, work friends, and business associates. Talk to them where they live, whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
June Smith, Head of Production Human Resources at Entertainment One, says about networking: “Never underestimate the power of networking. Yes, use the technology, because that’s how the world works now. go to your LinkedIn profile to see if you have any employee connections at that company. If you have a mutual relationship, contact these people and ask them to introduce you.
Subscribe to newsletters and alerts
Another way to stay on top of the job search process is to take advantage of newsletters and alerts. Is there a company you would really like to work for? Many of them have newsletters or job alerts on their recruiting portals where you can sign up. You will receive a periodic alert or email with their current vacancies. Plus, you can sign up for Google Alerts for specific job titles or companies, or alerts on LinkedIn for the industry you want to work in and companies you would like to work in. For example, my background is in entertainment marketing, so I created a “marketing” job alert on LinkedIn. Maybe you would like to work at Netflix? Set up a job alert for the company on your LinkedIn profile. You will be informed of any new position as soon as it becomes available.
Recycle, if necessary
Even though my job search involves marketing, I’ve noticed on several occasions that many companies are looking for candidates who are experienced with Salesforce (listed under Desired Skills). I was new to the technology so I used Google to educate myself and then signed up for a class to practice. When you begin the application process, consider a simple refresher training if that will increase your chances. Google or LinkedIn should be able to help you find these courses. You may not want to go all out for a certification or other type of degree research program, but familiarity with a in-demand tool or platform in your field can set you apart from other applicants.
If a company decides (based on your online application) that they want to interview you, it will more than likely be an online interview conducted from your home computer. (Especially now, given the ongoing Covid shutdowns.)
A few tips: Always be serious, dress professionally, check the background and lighting that will appear on a Zoom call, close the door to the room you are in, or find a way to prevent pets and children from interrupting you. Michael Bridges, who recently completed a successful job search and is now Director of Development at Parks California, offers some interview tips: “Think of the job interview as if you had been hired for the actual position. Post-Covid, many businesses will continue to use Zoom in their day-to-day business activities. How you present yourself in a Zoom interview will be a good indicator of who you will be as an employee if they hire you. You have to show them who you are as a colleague from the first interview. “