If you are like many older workers, you may find yourself searching for work for the first time in years, and feeling understandably lost in this new modern age of online job postings, social networking and computerized application systems.
The way to find a job today is a bit different than any time in the past, with high competition and the extra challenge of computerized job applications.
If you're an experienced worker who hasn't looked for a new job in years, here are a few things to know as you adjust to what you'll find out there:
Know that you're not alone and you can learn how this works.
As an executive recruiter and job search coach, I talk to people all the time who are actively looking for a job for the first time in years. Some have happily been with the same company for a long time, and others got every previous job through someone they knew. Don't panic. The digital era has changed things a bit, and your looking-for-a-job mode may be rusty, but you can get up to speed quickly.
There is more competition for jobs than ever, but it's not all qualified.
The age of online job postings and one-click applications means far more applicants for every job. But the good news is that many of those applications are either inappropriate or mediocre, and that means that it doesn't take much extra effort set yourself apart from the crowd.
The secret is to focus on quality, and not quantity.
One careful submission to a job you're qualified for, with a resume that you've made sure shows the aspects of your experience that prove it is going to easily produce better results than a dozen one-click, who-cares random applications. Put attention into your presentation, and your resume and application will be noticed.
You definitely need a new resume.
You can't just take a years-old document and update it. Resume styles change and evolve, and to get a modern job, you need a modern resume. For instance, the objective you probably used in the past is now out of style, and clearly positioning yourself for the job you want is what gets the interview. If you are in the business world, it is probably a good idea to get some expert advice or help.
Computers are often doing the screening so use keywords.
Many companies rely on computerized Applicant Tracking Systems to manage the application process. With an ATS, your resume is either pasted or imported into the company's database. Then the computer matches the words in your resume with the words in the job description. If the important words don't match, that's the end for you, so it's critical that every resume has the right keywords for the job.
You absolutely need an online presence.
LinkedIn has become the center of business networking, which catches some people by surprise. Don't look like the digital era passed you by. Now is the time to expand your connections on LinkedIn; begin by searching for people who also worked at the companies you've worked for. Put a friendly photo up. Ask for recommendation. Join some groups in your industry, profession or college. Participate. You'll make new connections and get current on the latest topics.
It's still about who you know.
They say that more than three out of four jobs are filled through networking, and that hasn't changed much over the years. Use your updated online network to meet and network with people face to face, too. Carry a resume business card with you to make the most of every encounter, and remember that the best networking is pay-it-forward networking.
Get with the technology.
Today, job seekers are expected to have fast access to email, so a smartphone is imperative for a major job search. You can access many job search websites with mobile apps, too. Being current with technology shows that you've kept up. If you're not used to texting, learn. Learn how to use your phone's camera.
Don't take it personally when you don't get responses.
Because of the sheer number of applications, many companies and recruiters simply don't have time to respond with a "thanks, but no thanks." Don't take it personally – just focus your attention on the right jobs, and you'll be hearing from them with requests for interviews.
Obviously, there's a lot more to understand when you're searching for work – resumes, job boards, salaries, etc., but for many older workers, the way to find a job begins with understanding how to produce the best and fastest results in today's job market. Good luck!