It’s 2018, and a brave new era in which people are meeting their matches online more than ever—and not just romantic ones. It won’t surprise you to find out that 54 percent of Americans use the internet to research job listings and 45 percent apply online (actually, if anything, those stats seem low!). So, while having a great resume is key, and knowing how to network will always be valuable, it’s more important than ever to also understand how to job hunt online effectively—without wasting your time or messing up your own chances unwittingly.
What job-hunting rules should you follow when it comes to looking online for a new gig? Here, a few experts weigh in on what you may be failing to do to land a job using the internet.
You don’t have to be a search engine optimization (SEO) expert to know what keywords can grab attention. Just think of the jobs you want to attract in your field and some marketing buzzwords and cram them into your profile title. Nix the name of your employer in your profile title and save the space for more keywords that can grab attention. If you’re a marketing associate, for example, try something more focused like “direct marketing leader in B2B information technology.” You want something that goes more in depth but is broad enough to encompass what you do and what role you’re looking for.
Look Where Others Aren’t
Some of the best projects I’ve worked on came because I approached companies that weren’t necessarily hiring in my role. “Instead, use the job boards to identify which employers are hiring. It doesn’t matter whether they’re hiring at your level or for your specialty or not. All you need to see is that they’re hiring at all because that means they’re growing,” Jewel Bracy Demaio, a resume and job search coach, wrote in Forbes. She advises using social media (or try the corporate website) to pinpoint the relevant contact person at the company and then pitch yourself. Sure, it’s a little “cyber stalkeresque,” but it works!
Customize Each Application
Want to tailor your cover letter or resume for a specific job? You should! Check out the job description and do more than see if you meet the criteria—home in on the wording. Use buzzwords or similar concepts when showing how you have the experience needed to do the tasks that the job requires. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) will scan for keywords and you want your resume to use the same language as companies and their recruiters. “If you don’t have a job posting because you are sending a resume directly to an employer, you can research similar positions on a job board like Indeed to find key terms to use in your resume,” Jessica H. Hernandez, an executive resume writer, advised in a post on LinkedIn.
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Look Beyond Title
You know the role you want, but if you only type in the title into a search engine, you may pass up similar roles that a company labels under another title. Type your industry into the search prompt, or add a portion of the title in. For instance, I work mostly as a copywriter and that work can include writing blog posts—so I also may search for “blogger” roles, too.
We focus so much on what to put on your resume or say during an interview that we sometimes forget about safety online. “When you’re searching for jobs online, it’s vital to keep yourself safe,” says Brie Weiler Reynolds, a senior career specialist at FlexJobs. “While many job scams are obvious to job seekers, there are some very sophisticated job scams out there that can take people by surprise. Be wary of recruiters reaching out to you out of the blue to offer you jobs or interviews. And keep in mind that some scammers are impersonating well-known companies to lure job seekers in with a false sense of security at seeing a big-name company that may want to hire them.”
Weiler Reynolds recommends doing research on any companies that reach out to you, and not putting your full street address on a resume that can be viewed by the public. “Trust your gut! Most of the job seekers I’ve heard from who’ve been scammed say they felt something was off during the process but they wanted a job so badly they kept going and ignored that gut instinct,” Reynolds said.
Let ‘Em Know You’re Looking
One way to get job opportunities coming to you is to activate your LinkedIn “Open Candidate” signal. This can privately alert recruiters that you are on the lookout for opportunities without letting the recruiter at your current employer see it. Want to get started? Go to the Jobs section of your LinkedIn profile and then click on Career Interests. From there, turn on the button to let recruiters know you’re open to new opportunities and complete a few questions about what you’re on the hunt for.
Sure, knowing how to land an interview is great but what happens afterward? Today’s digital mavens may follow up with an email, but a call or handwritten note can have a lasting impact—mainly because it offers a personal touch that email can’t deliver. Many job-seekers fail to follow up after an interview at all; if you want to go for the job, get back in touch in a truly personable way. After all, the digital space is nice but sometimes human-to-human interaction is even better.
Kristen Fischer is the author of “When Talent Isn’t Enough: Business Basics for the Creatively Inclined” and a certified resume writer.