The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics just announced that 2014 was the best year for hiring since 1999. However, if you are one of the 30 million Americans out of work or underemployed, this isn’t a reason to celebrate.
We’ve all heard that networking is the number one job search strategy, with up to 80% of people obtaining jobs this way. Yet most job seekers still use online job boards as their primary job search strategy.
(Never mind that you’re severely limiting your options if you do this)
If you’re not willing to give up job searching online in 2015, here are some things you should know about today’s job market.
Online “Mega” Job Boards vs Niche Job Boards
If you’re using Indeed.com to job search, you’re not alone. Indeed has 180 million unique visitors each month — nearly double that of other job sites. It also offers 16 million job postings, with 8.2 jobs added each second. But numbers don’t tell the entire story (for more information on the numbers and data behind recruiting, read this article).
Large, general job boards have become flooded and therefore more competitive and confusing for many job seekers. “Niche” job boards (which are smaller and industry-focused) are becoming more popular as employers are becoming more targeted in their search for the right candidate.
What You Can Do: If you get the interviews you want through mega job boards, by all means, keep up the good work. If not, consider using niche job boards to identify jobs, and then use LinkedIn and other tools to engage your audience and make connections.
Applicant Tracking Systems
If you’ve received an automated response to a job you’ve applied for online, you’ve encountered an Applicant Tracking System (or “ATS”). These systems continue to evolve, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. ATS have, for the most part, replaced paper applications all together, and employers increasingly rely on these systems. Unfortunately, they screen out many qualified applicants.
More bad news: in today’s world, it’s not just the ATS that you’re up against, but a series of lengthy and sometimes invasive questions and/or personality assessments used to screen candidates. Sometimes, you may even be asked for your salary history, social security number, and contact information for your references – all before a human being even reads your resume!
What you can do:
- Understand how ATS work, but avoid them if at all possible. Remember networking is the #1 job search strategy.
- Knowledge is power! Know that the more knowledge you have about a company and what they’re looking for in a prospective candidate, the better off you’re going to be
Employers are becoming increasingly dependent upon recruiting through social media.
According to Jovite.com, 73% of recruiters have hired a candidate through social media. 93% of recruiters review a candidate’s social profile before making a decision.
Employers use social media to examine candidate profiles that possess a set of keywords that are associated with the employer’s ideal candidate. On the job seeker’s side – social media is great for the job seeker to gain insights into a company’s culture.
What you can do:
- Know that people who are “Linked In” to social media get information fastest in today’s world. As a result, those with better access, networks, and social connections will continue to succeed. An up-to-date LinkedIn account is recommended for all active professional job seekers.
- Sign up to automatically receive job-search tips via an email newsletter or social media. These technologies are easy ways to get useful information in an easily digestible format. They take less than five minutes a day to read and you’ll quickly build up a useful storehouse of tips and strategies to enhance your search efforts.
- Meetup (www.meetup.com). This venue has lots of opportunities for professionals to market themselves and conduct informational interviews. Some companies are establishing Meetup groups as a strategy for cultivating and locating talent.
- Google+ (www.google.com) has more users than LinkedIn and is predicted to grow in terms of sourcing candidates.
- Twitter (www.twitter.com) is an underutilized job search tool that is quickly gaining headway.
Referrals as a source of hire continue their upward trend. Recruiters indicate that 60% of their best job candidates are found through referrals. Employers will conduct more “stealth searches” than ever before. A stealth search (known as the “Hidden Job Market”) is when an employer doesn’t post a job but is searching for qualified candidates to fill the position. This means that as a job seeker, you’ll have better luck if you place yourself into your targeted employer’s referral pools. This requires a more strategic and proactive approach to your job search.
What you can do:
- Have a targeted list of employers. Search their websites for positions and reach out to the decision makers directly.
- Face-to-face networking isn’t dead. Consider joining local associations in which your targeted decision makers hang out. Know that just joining isn’t enough – you need to become involved by volunteering or joining committees.
Job hunting continues to evolve. When online job searching give thought to the current trends of niche job boards, social media and Applicant Tracking Systems and consider becoming an employee referral to boost your chances of landing a job in 2015.
Additional sources: FastCompany, Career Thought Leaders