Whether you’re job hunting for your first career position or for a career upgrade, finding a job isn’t easy. Yes, the economy is strong and employers are hiring, but every corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes on average — and only four to six people are called in for an interview. Expect the process to take several weeks and to require your daily attention.
Uploading a flurry of resumes won’t improve your chances of landing an interview. Before responding to any job posting, you’ll first need to do your homework and customize your applications to show that you’re the best fit for the job.
Landing a great job takes a lot of work, but you can increase your chances by working smart. With every job posting now available to the masses, it takes some know-how to stand out from the clamoring crowd.
Use these smart techniques to up your chances for job hunting online:
1. Search out the best sites. It’s possible to narrow your search for online job listings to websites best suited for your particular industry and career level. This can save you time. From Craigslist and WayUp for recent grads, to SimplyHired and CareerBuilder for career changers, to USAJobs for federal jobs and Idealist for nonprofit careers, make it your mission to personalize your job hunt.
2. Investigate the company culture. Be sure you have an idea of the culture of the company you’re pursuing to know if it’s a good fit. Any job offer should be a win-win for both parties. A company’s website is just the starting ground for researching a potential employer. Career review sites, such as Indeed or Glassdoor, will give you candid reviews from current and past employees about company culture. Additionally, Yelp reviews will show you how the public views the company.
3. Scrutinize your online presence. Assume any prospective employer will conduct an online search of top job candidates. This means you need to make sure your social media profiles are spotless. Type in your name with quotation marks around it to tell the search engine you want those words side by side. If you have a common name that brings up pages of people ahead of you, consider adding your middle initial or using a less formal version of your name. Be sure to use it consistently everywhere related to your job search, including on your resume. Set up a Google Alert to notify you when anything new associated with your name appears in Google search results.
4. Use job-specific keywords. Find and leverage the keywords that your target employers will look for in an ideal candidate. Research the most current terms describing your line of work and your position in your chosen industry. Update your LinkedIn profile, Twitter bio, resume and other professional materials with the latest terms.
5. Capitalize on your LinkedIn account. Consider LinkedIn your online networking resume and gear your profile toward hiring managers. Think of your lead-in paragraph as your elevator pitch and make sure it reflects your skills and the contribution you add to your industry. Importantly, don’t announce that you’re unemployed or seeking employment in your profile. Show employers that you know your stuff by contributing comments to LinkedIn groups where people in your field share information. Follow target companies through the site, and comment on their content as a way to possibly build a relationship with someone inside the company.
6. Build a personal website. Depending on your chosen field, oftentimes a personal website is the best forum to showcase creative works, such as music or visual arts. Think of it as an online portfolio and be selective about what you add. Be sure to digitize so that it looks good on a cell phone. Include any and all accolades. Consider sharing the back story to personalize your work. Be sure to keep the content fresh. A personal website will give you space to display your work and your own brand.
7. Make the most of your networks. Mine the websites of companies you’re interested in, and search social media networks such as LinkedIn, looking for any mutual friends or professional associations that will give you a foothold for making contact. Email anyone with whom you have a connection. If no jobs are currently posted, but this is one of your top targeted companies, ask for 15-20 minutes of a connection’s time for an informational interview. Establishing a connection can help you later if a job does open up.