In December of last year, I started a new job. It had been a solid 7 years since I had been through an official interview process, updated resume to boot. 7 years. I was overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, and frustrated. And I’ll give you some inside information – I work in recruitment. Not just that, I work in recruitment, and I was asked to participate in this job application. I wasn’t even looking for a job, and I felt just as nervous as if I had no experience on my resume, fresh out of college.
In the five months since I began this job, I have settled down (ha) in my new position, and have gotten to thinking. As a recruitment professional, you would think that I would have managed to keep my emotions under wraps as I explored the new position, and underwent the application process. And boy, are you wrong. It was just as stressful as the first time I found a new job, and honestly, even more so because I was settled into the life style I had at my previous career.
As a result, I wanted to write this blog about navigating the career search in 2018. It doesn’t matter whether you are an experienced professional looking for your next big career move, or you’re a breastfeeding mom who has been out of the professional world for 8 years. This blog is for you.
I’m going to make some bold statements about the state of recruitment, the industry, and how to navigate it. But I’ll preface that with the fact that these are my opinions, and recruitment (and recruiters), are the subject of their own opinions. Which is just a nice way of saying that there will always be those with differing opinions, but I’ve tried to keep this as helpful, neutral, and purposeful as possible.
Yes, it’s still (mostly) who you know. Networking isn’t everything, but it’s a whole lot. And if you wait to keep in touch with your contacts until you are looking for a job it is going to be really difficult. If you still have those contacts, renew them, but I’d avoid doing so by starting the first conversation with asking for a job. For those of you who feel networking is a cheap, shallow experience, you’re not alone. But I think that networking has gotten a bad wrap, primarily because it’s been abused by a lot of people. Networking isn’t making as many contacts as possible, as quickly as possible, all with the end goal of providing a value to yourself. Networking is about mutual benefits, value, and a relationship. That doesn’t mean that that relationship has to be in your top five priorities, but it does have to be maintained, and it shouldn’t be abused. Think of it this way, remember that person you haven’t talked to in years, and suddenly, they come knocking on your door to ask you to buy their latest direct sales product? Did you like it? Don’t be that person.Think of networking as a way to help others, and in your time of need, you’ll inevitably have the help you once provided at hand.
Update your LinkedIn Profile (and your resume). I’ve worked in recruitment marketing for over 7 years, and I cannot tell you how often I run into an outdated LinkedIn profile. Yes – it’s going to take time to update. Yes – it’s going to take a freaking long time. Yes – writing resumes and summaries sucks. But yes, you should do it. Recruiters use LinkedIn like a Sales person use to use a Rolodex. AND, they use it like Google. Which means that they are using search strings to find the right fits for their open positions. That means that your LinkedIn profile should be rich with keywords that are similar to the job descriptions of the kind of roles you are looking for.
Tailor your resume.This is the piece of advice most career seekers hate to take.They hate updating their resume, much less updating their resume several times for several different positions. But I want to give you some inside perspective: recruiters are looking at hundreds of resumes. They know what traits they are looking for, and those traits are represented in the job description. I’ll give you an example: my team was hiring for a position that required Facebook advertising experience.I cannot tell you how many resumes (alright, I can, it was over 80%) didn’t have Facebook advertising experience listed anywhere in their resume. And this is not a rare occurrence. Want a job? Make sure you are (honestly) representing the information in your resume and make sure it matches that in the job description. This is getting even more important as some organizations move into Artificial Intelligence which helps them match your application to the job descriptions requirements. Don’t have the requirements? You won’t make it passed the machines.
Don’t apply for jobs you aren’t qualified for. This is going to be a difficult one for a lot of people, but a huge portion of where recruiters spend their time is weeding out the individuals who aren’t qualified for the positions they have applied. Yes, I know you’re a fast learner, that you can pick things up like a drop of the dime. I know you think that you are almost qualified, or that you have other qualities that will make up for the lack of met requirements. But the reality is that you most likely won’t hold up to other candidates who do have the experience. Does that mean you have to meet every single bullet point in the job description? No. But make sure you are telling a story of why it’s okay that you miss on bullet point but hit the rest, whether in your objective statement, your mission statement, your cover letter, or your personal network / email / note etc, to explain the lapse, and bolster your credibility.
Ditch the cover letter. Finally, I can give you one piece of good advice that will save you some time. Unless you’re explaining a gap in work, or why you really area good fit, ditch the cover letter. Recruiters don’t read them, they go straight to the resume. Yes, there will be exceptions. Some recruiters say they need them, but a larger majority don’t have the time to spend reading a cover letter amidst the other applicants.
Don’t apply to tons of jobs at the same company. Find the right job that fits your professional experience. It’s really easy for a recruiter to see how many positions you have applied to, and how many times you’ve been rejected for those roles. I can’t help but think that if a recruiter sees that you’ve applied for 20 jobs, been rejected for 19 of them, that they probably won’t consider you for the 20th. This goes along with the “don’t apply for jobs you aren’t qualified for”, so make sure you are being selective about the positions you are applying to.
Get connected with recruiters. This goes along with the first bullet point, but it’s really important so I wanted to elaborate again. If you’re applying for jobs at companies, find their recruiters on LinkedIn. Connect to them, send a personal note about your interest in their organization. Ask them for advice at getting noticed. Make it known you are not just looking for an “in” but are willing to do the right work to make yourself an all start candidate to them.
Do your research. There are websites dedicated to exploring what it means to work at organizations, and they are tailored to give you a more in depth look at the day-to-day. These websites (Glassdoor, Indeed, The Muse, FairyGodBoss, InHerSight) are all dedicated to providing reviews of some sort to hear from employees about the real life experience at that organization. Use that information to your benefit. You’ll hear pros and cons, and you need to use that information to decide whether or not that company really is for you. Now, every company has a rogue review, so read more than one negative review to get a more realistic perspective of what is actually happening at that company. And for goodness’ sake, stop applying for jobs at a company that has a culture that doesn’t align with your priorities.
Nothing beats face to face interaction. If there’s a hiring event coming up, go to it. If there’s a networking event, be there. Nothing beats human interaction, and you’ll make a much more lasting impression on hiring managers if you can give them a face and personality, instead of a computer screen and resume.
Build up your resume. Are you lacking in experience but want to get back into the professional world? Great! Volunteer. Join your child’s school’s PTA. Volunteer for a political campaign (it’s that season again, shudder). Political campaigns are always looking for volunteer and communications coordinators. Volunteer for a non-profit organization with a specific intent in mind. If you want a full time job in event planning, volunteer your time at events to build up your experience.
Pace yourself. know the job hunt can be exhausting. I was laid off from my first job from college and spent the next 7 months desperately seeking a position. I had little experience, I was torn apart by being laid off, and I was getting scared that that was the life meant for me. But in my exhaustion, I got sloppy. I didn’t keep my resume updated, I didn’t keep my network fresh. So this is me saying, I know it stinks, and I know it’s tiring, but stick with it, because it’ll be worth it.
Have some questions specific to your experience? Want to join my network? Catch me on LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/lindseysanford