If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your resume or gone on a job interview, you may be nervous about how the process has changed since the last time you applied for a new job.
Maybe you’ve been on a break from the world of outside employment, or maybe you’re already employed and you’re simply ready for a change. Whatever your current circumstances or reasons for launching your search, don't be nervous. As you know, from looking at today’s unemployment numbers, you and your talents are very much needed, especially here in the Twin Cities.
Here are 5 big changes you need to understand before you begin.
1. It’s faster and easier to find the jobs that fit you best.
These days, most open positions are posted online. More importantly, today’s job sites are extremely candidate friendly. Within a matter of minutes (if not seconds), you can conduct multiple searches, applying virtually endless combinations of filters that extend well beyond “city” and “job title.”
Three places we recommend when conducting a simple search for open positions are LinkedIn, Google Jobs, and of course the SkyWater Job Board. Check out this article for a list of more job search apps and websites.
The advantage of applying to a job found on our job board, is that our recruiters can discuss things like the company culture, salary requirements, and health of the company, in detail with you to help you determine where the opportunity falls within your priority list.
2. Data and analytics play a bigger role than ever.
If you’re reading that as a reminder that your resume and cover letters need to have just the right balance of key words, you’re right. Today, the screening process is an increasingly machine-driven exercise, freeing up recruiters and hiring managers to personally review only those resumes that meet the minimum job requirements. Make sure that your resume and cover letter key words for specific skills, job experiences, and proven strengths clearly match those found in the jobs for which you’re applying.
We have many resources for updating resumes according to today's best practices. Remember, we see hundreds of resumes a week. We know what kind of resume gets the attention of employers, and what gets lost in the shuffle.
But data and analytics play a far greater role than that. Truth is, data is being gathered and synthesized about you – and every other candidate in the pipeline – throughout the entire process. How well did you prepare for your interview? How did you perform on screening tests? How are your references answering specific questions? And what your social media presence? How is your personal brand being represented on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … there are too many to list here. Not every employer is scraping together every tiny morsel of data about you but you really do need to proceed as if they are because it’s a growing practice.
3. Interviewing is different. Very different.
For starters, your first interview might not be in-person. Especially for early phase interviews, more employers are using video. Skype? Maybe. But don’t go into a tizzy if you’re invited to join on Google Hangouts, Zoom or even Facetime. Do spend some time practicing. Seriously, practice every step, from logging in correctly, to sitting in the right chair – in an appropriate setting where your internet connection will remain stable – and positioning the camera on your device to frame you from the top of your head to slightly above your waist so your facial expressions, hand gestures and general posture are visible.
There is also a growing trend toward “testing” – but it’s not limited to basic assessments of easily quantified knowledge of skills. You might be asked to bring in work samples. But it’s just as likely that you’ll be asked to participate in a simulation or group problem solving session. The purpose of these is to give just about every stakeholder (you, the employer, and your potential new colleagues) the opportunity to check the fit between your skills, the job requirements, and the team’s process, culture and needs. If you’ve never done anything like this in a prior job search, I strongly encourage you to wrap your head around the idea and get comfortable with it. Too often, I’ve seen otherwise strong candidates get so stressed out by these assessments that they either perform below their ability – or respond defensively – or both.
Ever wonder if there is a best time to schedule an interview? We have some insight on that as well.
4. Candidates are now expected to come in as near-experts on the employer and the industry.
Everything I’ve just said about how easy it is to gather data means that you’re now expected to really understand the employer. You need to show up at every interview with a deep understanding of the company, its customers, markets, vision, values, and goals. That’s a lot of reading. So please, please don’t think that a quick perusal of the company’s website an hour before your interview will cut it. It really won’t. Is this a burden? Yes, in a way. But it’s also an opportunity for you to check in with yourself. As you’re reading the organization’s website, does it resonate for you? Does their mission excite you, make you want to jump in with both feet? When you take your research deeper, into the industry’s current realities and challenges, are you intrigued – or are your eyes glazing over with boredom? These are clues. Pay attention to them and direct your job searching energies accordingly.
5. Your skills and potential – and yes, your attitude – matter more than your current salary, job title, or your age.
Today’s employers are dealing with changing customer demands, technological advances, and unpredictable competition from emerging disruptions. Hiring managers know that, to meet these challenges, they need to build nimble, flexible, talented teams. They also have to cultivate workplace environments that attract and keep their best team members together.
To establish yourself as a candidate, get comfortable with points 1-4, above. But as you do, remember that the most important qualifications you bring to any new job is your ability to embrace goals, adapt when those goals change, collaborate well, and always, always be willing to learn new things.
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Do you have any tips for those re-entering the job market? Are you someone who is going through this process right now? Share your expertise and experience with others in the comments below.