How to find a job in the digital age

It can be quite daunting if you are a social media novice, but embracing online resources in your job search is vital in today’s market, says Helen O’Callaghan.

Last time you looked for a job was 20 years ago — Facebook and LinkedIn, tweeting and blogging weren’t even distant dots on the horizon. 

But in recent years digital technology and social media has taken off across all spheres, including in the world of job-hunting and recruitment.

CSO stats from 2015 showed 64% of Irish enterprises with 10 or more employees used some type of social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube) to promote their business whether through sales, PR exposure or recruitment compared with an EU-28 average of 39%. By 2016, 64% had become 67%.

“About 77% of people applying for jobs are coming through social media platforms. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was slightly higher,” says Recruitment Plus managing director Anne Fanthom.

It’s easy to feel daunted. Yet embracing online resources in your job-hunt doesn’t have to be so difficult. For a start, there are websites to help with putting a good CV together — examples can be found here, hereWords, and here.

Keep the CV short, advises Fanthom — bin the five-page versions of your younger days. “These won’t grab attention. Recruiting companies are much more likely to scan through two pages.” Browse jobs out there — log onto RecruitIreland.com, Irishjobs.ie; jobs.ie and monster.ie. 

The next major step is to put your profile up on a professional platform. The big one’s LinkedIn — global career experts Right Management found 94% of job candidates reported it as their top social media site for job hunting. 

And two in three recruiters chose LinkedIn as their number one site for finding candidates.

“Build a very strong, professional profile. Manage whatever’s in that profile very carefully,” says Fanthom, who emphasises giving your profile a strong headline.

“It’s what people notice first — ‘20 experience building amazing consumer brands’ is better than ‘consumer marketing role sought’.” 

Recruiting companies looking for candidates on LinkedIn use key words and tag lines [related to role they want filled] to narrow their search.

If looking for an accounts person, a key word might be SAP — accounts system the company’s using. “For the job-hunter, this means being very specific about words used in your profile (include as many skills as you can) so as to help potential employers find you,” explains Fanthom. 

For an accounts job, for example, make sure the words ‘SAP’ or ‘SAGE’ (accounts system you’ve used) appear, as well as your qualifications, e.g. CIMA, ACCA.

Do put a photo with your profile.

“No photo is a bit suspicious,” says Fanthom, who advises a formal photo, not you on the beach with a glass of wine. 

“It has to be one you’d like a prospective employer to see and think ‘they look professional’. Be properly suited — jacket/dress if you’re a woman, suit if you’re a man. A smile’s always a good ice-breaker.” 

If currently working, be aware your employer could easily spot your job search online — don’t overtly advertise you’re eager to move on. 

“Be very mindful around choosing privacy options on LinkedIn,” says Fanthom, who suggests ‘interested in hearing what’s out there’ is a better option to tick than ‘currently interested in hearing about anything suitable for my skill-set’.

Use LinkedIn too to research companies you’re interested in, check if they’re recruiting and to see if any of your contacts are connected. ‘Follow’ companies on your work target list —so you’re updated on new offices, investment, products or services.

 Check a company’s management team via their online profiles/media coverage to establish who/what is worth knowing — and again to see if you’re in any way connected. 

“Referrals are more likely to get you an interview than a cold CV or application,” says Fanthom, who urges reaching out to your contact: ‘I see you’re connected to A. I’m looking for a HR job and I see this company is looking for someone for that role. Who in the company should I forward my CV to?’

Social media sites like Facebook can be useful to let people know you’re back on the job market. And companies do use Facebook for recruiting.

“If a company’s looking to take on five telesales people in a hurry, they’ll stick it up on their Facebook page. It gets out in the public domain very quickly.” If job-hunting using social media, make your online presence employer-friendly.

“A professional LinkedIn pitch will be undermined by nonsense on Facebook or photos of crazy parties,” warns Fanthom.

“Use a sensible photo on your Facebook profile, at least while job-searching — certain sectors check your social media presence ahead of calling you for interview.” 

In fact, a CareerBuilder.co.uk study found 48% of recruiters use social networking sites to research potential job candidates. Over half claimed they found something that caused them not to take on the applicant: 45% cited drink/drug habits; 39% were put off applicants who spoke badly about previous employers/employees, while 38% weren’t impressed by inappropriate photos. 

But one in three recruiters said they’d found content that made them more likely to hire job seekers.

Fanthom has further tips to help you utilise online resources in your job hunt: use Instagram for your portfolio if in a creative role like photography, design or interiors; share video, photography, copy or media coverage that illustrates your professional abilities; join specialist social media groups to chat to others with similar professional interests.

But perhaps the best news for those who knew well how to get a job the old-fashioned way is Fanthom’s bottom line assessment: visiting a company with your CV and getting to talk to someone in HR is still worthwhile. 

“Social media platforms might be a great way to meet recruiters but you only connect with someone in person.”


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