Written by Elle Aldridge
New Year’s resolutions – scientific research tells us that (a) nearly half the population makes them but (b) more than half of those resolution makers give up within six months. So if you’ve resolved to successfully nail a job search in 2014, the statistics indicate that you’ll need a little help staying on track when you go career hunting online.
When to start
Conventional wisdom says there's no bad time to start a job search. Survey results suggest the most popular time is January. Corporations are bound by the fiscal year, but when you peel back the onion, every industry works on its own hiring schedule. Heck – most companies within an industry work on separate schedules.
Point is, there's no chronological excuse for pushing back your job hunt. The Internet has made it easier than ever to interact with headhunters, staffing agencies, and HR departments. Long gone are the days of direct mail and cold calls; today, all you need to do is punch the right words into a search engine and you can send out applications with a few keystrokes and the click of a button.
The shifting landscape
It's no secret: Job-hunting isn't the same game it used to be. With time and technology on their side, searchers are welcome to submit their curriculum vitae from the comfort of a swivel chair and computer monitor.
In most ways, it's an encouraging reality for employers. Increased visibility means better candidate pools, and better candidate pools means stronger production on every rung of the career ladder. Not to mention, digital access to job applications means employers can spend fewer resources on expensive forms of traditional advertising, and focus their capital on improving their salaries, benefits, quality of work or whatever the case may be.
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But what's the upshot for future employees? Truthfully, as long as you know how to search, there's plenty of good to draw from it. Here's a handy guide for furthering your career and finding your next job in 2014:
Clean up your social media presence. A survey from CareerBuilder.com indicated that roughly 37 percent of employers use social media to screen candidates from the get-go. And remember: that's just a primary screening. That's to say nothing of typical HR practices after a first- or second-round interview. Make sure you toggle your privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter so that your account is private, and do yourself a favor by deleting a few of those incriminating pictures from college or your spring break excursion to Punta Cana (and find out what else you can do to shore up your profile here).
Get the credentials. The digital transition of the job search is representative of change in the vocational community as a whole. Everything is getting globbed online. Advertising, banking, entertainment and even medical communities are all pushing their services to an online format. Get with the times and make yourself attractive by getting certified in Google Analytics or building a personal website.
Get your name out there. With so many resumes floating around the web, it's easy to get spotted when you least expect it. Share your name and information on as many job boards as you can, and be responsive when you hear from a recruiter. Your first job opportunity may not be the one you end up taking, but it could lead to a connection that eventually leads to your dream job. Be patient, and cast the net wide (check here to uncover some lesser known places to float your resume).
Get synced up. Resources like LinkedIn are expanding their customer base at a rapid pace. You don’t want to get left behind in the next wave of professional networking. Make sure you're linked up to all the latest occupational websites and applications.
Apply to lots of jobs without the right qualifications. Not all companies place weight on years of experience or industry knowledge – there are times when it's appropriate to reach beyond your grasp. However, you want to be cautious in your application. Job searchers can shoot themselves in the feet by applying for a job that way exceeds their experience, and then circling back months later to apply for something more appropriate. The company may have record of your past applications, and may not be thrilled with your ability to follow direction.
Search at your current job. It's tempting, I know – particularly if you're itching to get out of your current position. But there's no reason to jeopardize what you have for what might be. According to a Proofprint survey, 32 percent of large companies directly snoop on employee e-mail. And don't fool yourself by saying it's only large companies getting in on the action; companies of all sizes usually have a way of tracking employee activity, even if it's as simple as a quick glance over your shoulder.
Send mass e-mails. Be scrupulous about personalizing your communications. It may take a while, and it may increase the amount of work you have to do, but it's well worth the effort. You'd be surprised how well people within industries know one another; you don’t want to gain a reputation as the guy or gal with the cookie cutter cover letter. Do yourself and your readers the kindness of – at the very least – changing up your wording and tailoring a message specifically to your recipient.
Talk money. At least not right out of the gate. So many modern employers are concerned with finding employees who want to do good work, first and foremost. The money will follow. And to boot, companies are giving their employees benefits like never before. It goes beyond medical and dental costs – some of the firms in the Silicon Valley go so far as to pay for transportation, housing and even personal time to work on their own projects.
I realize it's a mouthful of advice – but your career is worth the explanation. You can't work your way through your career map until you know the lay of the land. Drink it all in, and get out there on the web. There's no time like the present to start charting your future!