I'm always trying to keep on top of the latest career trends and recently read through the mother lode: The 2012 white paper published by the Career Thought Leaders Consortium. It's full of useful tips, strategies and ideas for job seekers and I want to share my favourites with you.
The report summarizes the key findings of the consortium's annual Global Career Brainstorming Day, an international, multicity event that brings together nearly 100 career professionals – including coaches, résumé writers and college career services professionals – from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. "What's consistent every year is the very fast pace of change," says Louise Kursmark, co-director of consortium and one of the co-editors of the report.
Here's what the experts said are seven keys to a successful job search in today's competitive environment:
1. Keep your résumé short and succinct.
Despite reports of its impending demise, the experts said a résumé is still very much an essential tool of the job search. But hiring managers (and the computers they use to sort through résumés) are in a rush. So you need to format your résumé to be read quickly and in small bites. These days, a typical résumé is scanned for just six to 10 seconds, often on a mobile device.
Eliminate filler words, use numbers to quantify your impressive results (such as "boosted sales 83 per cent") and include relevant keywords that appeared in the job posting.
Limit your contact information to just one e-mail address (old-fashioned AOL, no; contemporary Gmail, yes), one phone number and your LinkedIn profile URL.
Residential addresses aren't needed, although it can be helpful to list your region (for example, New York Tri-State), so the employer knows you're located near the open position.
2. Create a portfolio of job-search documents.
Want a way to distinguish yourself from the crowd of applicants? According to the Career Brainstorming Day pros, many job seekers are supplementing their résumés with collateral leadership briefs, blogs that establish their robust online professional identity and, among senior-level managers, one-page executive summaries.
3. Consider hiring a coach to perfect your video interview skills.
More employers are relying on Skype for long-distance and initial screening interviews. As a result, more job seekers are using coaches to help them excel in video presentations.
4. Dive deep into LinkedIn.
Over the past few years, using LinkedIn to find work has gone from a good idea to essential. "Having a sharp LinkedIn profile may be even more important than having a great résumé," Ms. Kursmark says.
Nonetheless, the experts said, all too many job candidates fail to fully embrace this tool, especially older job seekers. To maximize the use of LinkedIn, engage more frequently with your LinkedIn networks. One of the best ways to do this is to actively participate in LinkedIn's industry and interest groups.
Find relevant groups by going to your LinkedIn home page, clicking on the Groups tab and search the "groups you may like" or "groups directory" tabs. Then join a few groups and post links to interesting articles, participate in discussions and share helpful resources. You will become known as a go-to resource and improve the likelihood that you will get noticed by recruiters, referral sources and hiring managers.
5. Use Twitter and other forms of social media to attract the attention of employers who are hiring.
According to the white paper, "employers will move from using external recruiters to an internal hiring process that will depend heavily on identifying prospective employees through their online presence and through referrals of existing employees. Personal websites, social media presence, development of subject matter expertise and a well-defined personal brand will be the requirements for gaining the attention of prospective employers."
6. Limit the amount of time you spend on job boards.
As Next Avenue has noted, job boards are one of the least effective ways to get hired. The Career Brainstorming Day experts said it's generally only worth applying for a position through a job board if your résumé matches 80 to 85 per cent of what an employer asks for in a posting.
Job seekers continue to be frustrated by computerized Applicant Tracking Systems that scan applicants' résumés for keywords. "This finding underscores the importance of direct, targeted search with networking as its core component as the most important method for finding a job," Ms. Kursmark says.
To maximize your chances for success using job boards, focus on smaller, regional and industry-specific job boards, as well as aggregator sites, like Indeed.com and Simplyhired.com.
7. Start your search sooner rather than later.
The hiring process has been growing longer, with more steps and delays between the time people apply for jobs and receive offers.
It helps to approach a search as though you are in sales: keep building your network pipeline, don't let your momentum flag and expect to hear "no."
All is not doom and gloom, though. The report says career professionals are finding "growing demand for workers" and that businesses are worrying about losing managers and other key talent. I hope they're correct.
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a career coach, speaker and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement . Her website is MyLifestyleCareer.com ; on Twitter she is @NancyCollamer.