Like generations of job seekers before him, Oscar Hazelaar printed his résumé and cover letter.
But the new grad quickly found the paper CV is passé.
“I don’t actually have to physically present my résumé in a job application. Now potential employers just look up candidates online,” explains Mr. Hazelaar, who’s graduating from Ryerson University in Toronto with a bachelor of fine arts in new media.
With advice he received in a new digital job skills course, Mr. Hazelaar curated his online professional presence. He documented his credentials and accomplishments on social media sites LinkedIn and Facebook, and he created a personal website in which he blogs his opinions and refers to articles that interest him.
Future job seekers will increasingly have to let their digital deeds speak for them, says Jaigris Hodson, an instructor for Ryerson’s digital literacy program. “In fact, some high-tech firms may discount you for a job if you send them a résumé on paper,” she says.
“I advise my students to build an online portfolio that demonstrates the abilities they have to help employers solve their problems and portrays them as sources of knowledge in their field,” she says. The skills and experiences that candidates post on a profile should be backed up with evidence of professional activities that have put the skills to use.
Ryerson is offering the digital literacy course for students in all majors. “This is a trend that affects all fields, from business and engineering, to health care, to theatre arts and music,” Ms. Hodson says.
An online presence will be important even if you’re not in the job market, advises Wendy Kennah, director of recruiting for information technology staffing service Procom Consultants Group Ltd. in Toronto.
Most recruiters now search LinkedIn and other social media sites for potential candidates and often contact them through in-mails to see if they might be interested in exploring a job move.
“You’ve got to be there to be found. You might miss out on an awesome job because people won’t find you,” Ms. Kennah says.
She advises: Profiles on sites such as LinkedIn should include key words that employers would use in searching for someone who has the skills they’re trying to find; terminology should be common to the industry you’re working in; and acronyms such as CEO or IT should be spelled out. You’ll also want to include skills such as bilingualism, professional certifications and key achievements and awards.
“The more times you come up, the more hits you get and the better chance you’ll get a call,” Ms Kennah says. But employers also need to know how to contact you, and she finds that a consistent failing of digital profiles is that people forget to include contact information, even if it’s as simple as an address.
“One thing that’s certain is there are going to be other new online employment tools coming in the years ahead, so it’s wise to be aware of them,” Ms. Kennah advises.
Even though physical CVs may be less central to the process, writing a résumé is still an essential step job seekers should go through because it can clarify in their own minds their qualifications and what jobs best suit their skills and interests, advises Randall Craig, a Toronto-based consultant on social media strategy and author of Social Media for Business.
“Something that people don’t do enough of is reviewing their experience and questioning what they’re built for. When you go through the process and get it down on paper, it can be the source material for all the digital things you do.”
It’s important to realize that your online image includes the comments and pictures you’ve posted on your blog and social media to make sure you aren’t disqualified by something you did or said, even years in the past, Mr. Craig says.
“You have to make sure that the digital you and the real world you are congruent. If anything is off, that’s a big red flag for employers.”
And while the future of job applications may be more multimedia, there are limits, cautions Robert Hines, executive director of the Career Development Centre at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.
“One thing that there won’t be more of in the future is time. Everyone will be short of it and so no one will have time to go through a video story of your life,” Mr. Hines says.
“I know that from my own experience. When I was working with a major search firm in Chicago we put a lot of time and analysis into very eloquent video résumés of candidates we were proposing to clients. But we found that search clients for C-suite executives wanted us to condense all that into summaries because they didn’t have time to watch them,” Mr. Hines says.
That’s the purpose of a résumé. For executive jobs in particular, interviewers still want a summary of qualifications and accomplishments for reference, he finds. But he advises job seekers to send it digitally, in a form that’s easy to review or print out, if the interviewer prefers. “Presenting a résumé on paper at the beginning of a job interview makes you look ancient.”
Mr. Hazelaar still expects to be asked for his digital CV as his job hunt continues for a role in the areas of marketing, social media promotion or graphic design. So he’s updated it and has it ready to e-mail to interviewers.
Now he’s discovering another factor that will loom over online job hunts: You can find out just how much competition you’re facing.
“When you bring up a job online you can see how many people have searched for the same job and how many responded to the ad. Sometimes, the numbers can be in the thousands,” Mr. Hazelaar says.
But he remains optimistic.
“There may be a lot of competition, but there’s also a lot of opportunity if you keep looking in the right places, he says. “A lot of companies want someone who knows how to keep on top of social media, because it’s going to be so important to them in the future. ”