Job searching in a digital world

Welcome to the new world of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and personal online reputation management, branding, and search engine optimization (SEO)!  It’s time to play with keywords and learn how to please the data miners in Human Resources a.k.a. Talent Management! 

As with many of my ‘Eureka! moments’, this one began on the heels of a resounding failure.  I pride myself on my Internet search skills and felt pleased to be discovering so many exciting positions in which I could apply my 30+ years of acquired skills as an international educator. I carefully read the job postings, edited my CV and wrote targeted cover letters for each position.  Fifty job applications later I began to realize that something was amiss when my CVs were met with a deafening silence.

At about this time I stumbled across a massive resource that has become my regular job search reading list.  It is a collection of 27 articles from the Career Planning and Adult Journal (volume 32, Number 2, ISSN 0736-1920, Summer 2016) titled “Social Recruiting, Personal Search Engine Optimization, and Personal Online Reputation Management” by guest editor Susan P. Joyce.  I am beginning to realize that my CV may never feel the glance of human eyes unless I make some drastic changes to it and tailor EACH CV to the position for which I am applying.

My first step is to get by the gatekeeper ATS.  To do so I must craft a variety of CVs representing my different ‘hats’.  I have learned that the applicant tracking systems don’t favor ‘jack-of-all-trades’ and do not humor being fed keywords that are irrelevant to the position for which they are ‘tracking’.  It also occurs to me that the success of the ATS depends a great deal on the ability of the Human Resource specialist to use filters effectively.  To such end I have discovered clever keyword tools such as JobScan which will compare your CV to the job posting and spit out a report giving the percentage of matching for your CV along with ways to remedy the situation with….you go it…KEYWORDS!  In effect I am fighting a machine with a machine!

The actual format of resumes or CVs has also changed largely due to online applications and ATS.  I am working on setting up a resume template for each type of job that I would like responding directly to the key words used by the industry in their job descriptions (a little data mining on my part).  I owe this tip to the article “Keywords, important or not” by Martin Yate of Knock em Dead (which is part of the article mentioned in the first part of this post).

Once my CV is earmarked for the eyes of Human Resources (thank you Mr. ATS!) and a human scan deems my candidacy worth considering I am now ready for Step 2 know in the trade as the “Google resume”.  My name is run as a Google search to see what kind of material comes up.  Luckily for me my name is very unique so I don’t risk being confused with  someone of ill repute bearing my same name.   My own search seemed favorable but I wanted to confirm this so I looked up Ryan Rhoten on his Career Brand site and after submitting my email address was given access to a test of my ‘online brand’.  I got a score of 64 (with the average being 33) along with some tips on improving my ‘brand’.

And just when I thought I was getting a grip on the present state of recruitment/job searching I stumbled upon some predictions for 2017 (31 Experts Share Predictions for Job Search in 2017) on one of my favorite job sites, Career Sherpa.  In general the cards are stacked in favor of job searchers but the process of recruitment is still very much in a state of flux.  

To be honest, sitting in a coworking space for a month surrounded by creatives and startups has made me question the validity of applying for traditional jobs.  My creative soul yearns for some freedom to craft my own work environment.  Stay tuned as the next episode will delve into the world of freelancing and blogging.