The Great Resignation became the never-ending job search for some people who quit during the pandemic.
That’s what life has recently felt like for Patrick Moran, who is pursuing a career change — from production manager at a Rhode Island doughnut bakery to an office job. The 25-year-old says he previously never used online tools for work, so applying through Web portals with little knowledge on how to use them only led to discouragement.
“It’s defeating applying for a bunch of jobs and not getting a call back,” he said.
Moran made a number of common mistakes, according to job experts, but with just a few tweaks and a little time, he could increase his chances of getting hired. Finding an online job listing and submitting a résumé is the bare minimum. Tech tools, if used correctly, can aid jobseekers in landing their next jobs and also create a network that can serve their careers for years to come.
“This is the power of social media,” said Yolanda Owens, a former corporate recruiter and founder of the coaching service CareerSensei in Washington, D.C. “Help will come from unexpected places.”
Experts said Moran, like many others, probably failed to attract interest from recruiters and employers because he résumé and online profile lacked key elements. With a little help from Google, LinkedIn and social media sites, he could strengthen his network and his chances of getting hired.
First, he was missing a summary that should be at the top of every résumé or online professional profile, experts say. This is especially important for people trying to transition from one field to another, because it lets them explain how they are a fit for the job despite a lack of previous related experience.
Adrian Klaphaak, founder of San Francisco Bay Area career-coaching service A Path That Fits, took the summary a step further, suggesting that Moran search Google, Indeed and LinkedIn for openings with the job title he wants and look for commonalities in the descriptions. Identify the top five skills or qualities the ads share, he said. Then, after a couple of introductory lines, bullet point each skill that the candidate possesses and follow it with a line explaining how the skill was demonstrated in previous jobs.
“The more that you can add specifics to your résumé that prove that you can do what you say you can, the more excited that gets the hiring manager,” he said.
In an era when a computer is likely to see Moran — or any applicant’s — résumé before any human ever does, experts say there’s one thing all jobseekers should keep in mind: keywords, keywords, keywords.
Jobseekers should research jobs to determine the best keywords to include in their online profiles. This could be anything from the actual job title to key skills, qualities, software programs or technical qualifications. Keywords should appear throughout people’s résumés and LinkedIn profiles.
“Stay away from general things like ‘communicating’ or ‘working in teams,'” Owens said. “Use things specific to the job like ‘staff management’ or ‘production operations.'”
Owens suggests jobseekers list the title they want as their current position on LinkedIn, even if they have to preface it with “aspiring” beforehand. “That’s what the recruiters will be using to find you,” she said.
Another commonly missed opportunity for jobseekers? Their professional online profiles and résumés often list previous work experience in terms of job descriptions rather than accomplishments. Additionally, jobseekers can strengthen past work experience if they can link their accomplishments to a skill or objective required for the new job.
Finally, never underestimate the power of a professional network, say experts. And if you don’t have one, build one. With social media, that’s easier than ever before.
LinkedIn is a good place to start, experts say, because jobseekers can find people in two ways. First, they can use the search tool to find people who currently or formerly worked at the hiring company. Or they can search the companies themselves, and employees who have listed the company as their employer will be linked to the companies’ profile.
The low-hanging fruit would be friends, family or other first-level connections who may work for the company. But jobseekers should also look for second-level connections — people whom they may not know but their friends might. LinkedIn makes it easy by labeling each person’s connection level. Once jobseekers find a second-level connection, they need to tap their common contact for an introduction.
Even third-level connections — people with whom the jobseeker has no mutual contacts — are fair game. Though for those connections, jobseekers will probably have to cold-request a connection on LinkedIn and include a message to help the person understand who they are. The best way to go about this, according to Klaphaak, is to find something this person may have done in their work, shared online or might be working on at their company.
One benefit of the Internet is that much of what people say and do is public. People have Instagram profiles, Twitter accounts, personal blogs and websites. LinkedIn is a great starting point for networking, but learning about people and who they’re connected to, and how their connections might help in the job search is valuable information. It just requires a little Internet sleuthing, experts say.
Lastly, after sprucing up the résumé, LinkedIn account and any other professional online profiles — which should be consistent in messaging and job history — jobseekers would be wise to take a potentially uncomfortable step: Post about their job search on their own social network channels, and specify the type of job they’re seeking.
“People are going to be thinking about you, so when they do hear about jobs, they’re going to shoot it to you,” Milligan said. “You’re basically developing your own personal sales team to have leads come to you.”
After learning about the online strategies he could use, Moran says he gained more confidence. He has plans for his first steps: Update his résumé and LinkedIn profile and reapply to his top-choice job. Networking is next on the list.
“I don’t know if everyone should take a class on this or what,” he said. But now, what he needs to do has “become a lot more clear.”
Five quick tips for jobseekers
Include a summary: Professional profiles and résumés should have a summary at the top highlighting a jobseeker’s most marketable skills and sharing a sense of their personality.
Use keywords: Professional profiles, especially those online, should employ keywords to help the candidate get past computerized screening systems.
Highlight accomplishments: Jobseekers should refrain from relying on job descriptions to explain past experience and highlight their accomplishments with specific examples.
Connect with professionals online: Candidates’ professional networks can often lead to the next job. Experts say jobseekers should be contacting people they know and seek introductions within the industries that interest them.
Post on social media: To increase the chances of getting hired, experts say jobseekers should post on their personal social networks about their job search.