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6 Ways Job Searching Is About to Change Forever

A 25-year executive recruiter explains how job searching is changing—and the key strategies you'll need to land your dream position.

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Your digital footprint will say more than your resume

The resume that used to be printed on paper—with gimmicks like scented or colored paper to stand out—is rapidly becoming obsolete. In the digital age, your digital footprint allows companies to truly determine the validity of the information you share with them.

Jon Bischke, CEO of recruitment software company Entelo, relies increasingly on digital data when evaluating potential job candidates. “Twenty years ago, the resume was a piece of paper,” Bischke told Business News Daily. “Now, it’s a collection of all [candidate] data that can be found online, like participation in online communities, conferences, and meetups. Recruiters can assess whether a person will fit, and learn if he or she has the right skills for the job.”

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Your LinkedIn profile will need these five elements

New to LinkedIn or haven’t updated your profile in a while? Follow these tips to quickly leverage this platform for job search success in 2018 and beyond:

  • Summary. LinkedIn can function as a searchable resume, so complete your profile and include relevant keywords relating to your industry and the job roles you’re targeting. Completed profiles receive 46 percent more views than those that don’t. Start by filling out your summary—you have 2,000 characters to work with (and some should be used to incorporate relevant keywords). Use them.
  • Professional headshot. Profiles with a professional headshot get viewed 21 times more than those without and are 36 times more likely to receive a message than those without.
  • Highlighted skills. Listing all your skills can result in 13 times more profile views. Specifically, listing more than five skills gets you 17 times more profile views. Listing five skills shouldn’t be hard—there are more than 45,000 standardized skills from which to choose.
  • Endorsements. Add social proof for your job skills by asking people you’ve worked with for endorsements. To get more endorsements, start by first endorsing your connections. Start with your closest colleagues, as they are the ones most likely to reciprocate.
  • Status updates. Use your status updates to share valuable information. A single status reaches 20 percent of your followers — a much better organic reach than the average Facebook post. Use your status updates to convey your expertise and stay top of mind with people who may need your skills today or in the future.

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Your top strategy will be to leverage Employee Referral Programs

An employee referral program (ERP) is an incentive-based recruiting strategy in which companies encourage current employees to refer qualified candidates for jobs in their organization.

This recruiting strategy works especially well because it leverages employees’ network—it’s been found that employees have 10 times more connections than company followers. Clearly, starting an ERP is advantageous for companies, but job seekers can also benefit. Here’s how:

  • Create a target list of the 20 companies that you most want to work for, whether those companies have job postings or not.
  • Use LinkedIn advanced search to network with anyone you know who is working at these companies. It’s likely that the companies have an ERP that gives them incentives if the company hires you, compelling your connections to want to refer you to their hiring manager.

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You’ll need to highlight your achievements, not your responsibilities

Employees are looking for resumes of qualified candidates—so, how does one communicate qualifications effectively?

First, customize the way you share your qualifications to match the job post. If your resume isn’t reflective of the job you’re applying for, the company may assume that you’ve sent it in along with several others, to many other job postings. At minimum, this means tailoring your cover letter accordingly. Depending on the breadth of your experience, it may involve making edits to your resume as well. One simple way is to make sure to incorporate keywords found in the job description.

Second, draw attention to your best results and greatest achievements. Go beyond describing your day-to-day tasks and delve into what you have achieved at your previous company when you were there. Hiring managers want to see results, so if you are a social media manager whose main task was to gain a certain number of followers over a time period and you’ve achieved that target, then flaunt it on your resume.

In general, you’ll need to talk about your job in terms of your achievements rather than your responsibilities. And when possible, quantify those achievements as amounts or percentages to effectively demonstrate how much you’ve achieved. So instead of saying “increased traffic to the website,” try “increased traffic to the website by 250 percent in a single year.”

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You’ll need to ace a test drive

Test drive. Temp-to-hire. Probationary period. Trial period. Tryout. Short-term assignment. Whatever you call it, more companies are hiring employees for a defined pre-employment period before committing to hiring the employee full-time.

Companies are increasingly doing this to evaluate the candidate and assess his or her fit with the role. A trial period will show the employer whether or not the applicant can actually deliver as promised. Says executive coach Luis Magalhaes, “Hiring managers are realizing that previous achievements and a good work portfolio don’t always translate directly into the ability to perform in a certain role. Culture is a major component of whether a candidate will sink or swim in the organization, and it’s much easier to test for culture with a pre-employment trial than to interview for it.”

It also saves the company money. It can be expensive to train, hire, and pay employees who don’t plan to stay long or are a poor fit. A trial assignment or period of trial employment can cut down on many of these costs.

So if you’re a job seeker in 2018 and beyond, use the trial period to see if you mesh well with the company culture and if you enjoy the work. Obviously you’ll need to do your best work during this trial period. Also, make sure to read contracts thoroughly and always ask questions to clarify before you sign.

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You’ll want to line up your references in advance

To include references or not to include them? This is a question that confuses many job seekers. As a general rule, it’s best not to include them, unless the job posting specifically asks for them.

References are vital to employers because some people are amazing on paper but difficult to work with. References allow companies to investigate your experience and temperament from another person’s perspective, verifying if you truly are who you claim to be.

However, even if you don’t volunteer references, sophisticated recruiters will find them on their own. Your LinkedIn profile can easily be leveraged for seeking out the names you don’t hand over. So once you get to the point in the hiring process where references are checked (usually right before making an offer), provide legitimate references and let those people know that they might be getting a call. The more references you can line up in advance, the better.

Jeff Hyman is Chief Talent Officer at Chicago-based Strong Suit Executive Search and teaches the MBA course about recruiting at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. His new book, Recruit Rockstars, is available now.