If you are looking for work in 2017, much of your search will take place online. This can be demoralizing at times as you encounter faceless ATS applications, tedious personality tests, and stiff competition. It is not all bad, however, as the online world also allows for greater access to opportunities, resources, and tools that you would not otherwise have heard of. The internet offers many avenues for enhancing your job-seeking experience and getting the best results from your applications. With this in mind, here are seven ways the internet can help you get the most out of your job search.
There is one aspect of the job search that never changes: the need for a great CV. Your CV is your introduction to each potential employer, and making a good first impression is critical to your success. Recruiters and hiring managers see hundreds of CVs each day, so if your CV does not catch their eye you won’t be given a second chance. You need a CV that will stand out among the other applicants.
Fortunately, writing a great CV has never been easier. The internet abounds with tips, guides, and advice for writing a CV that will clearly and effectively showcase your experience. For example, here are guides from VisualCV, MakeUseOf, and Mental Floss.
If you prefer to learn by example, there are also plenty of example CVs to be found online, some written by CV writers and some by real job-seekers. You may want to begin with these examples from VisualCV, TopResume, and Monster. If you prefer, you can even have your CV written for you by a professional; we discuss this option in our article on where to look for resume feedback.
A well-written CV is important, but to truly impress potential employers your CV should look good, too. You may have impressive experience and skills, but if your CV is poorly formatted or difficult to read recruiters won’t give it a second look. For this reason, be sure to use an eye-catching CV template to build your CV. There are many CV building tools available online that offer stylish CV designs. For example, you may want to try one of VisualCV’s CV templates, where we offer impressive templates that are easy to use and share with recruiters.
It is important to project a professional image online. According to a CareerBuilder survey from 2016, “60 percent of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates”. Even if your privacy settings are strict, you can’t guarantee that your profiles won’t be seen by a potential employer.
There are many reasons for a recruiter to look to social media. According to Jacquelyn Smith at Forbes, recruiters may look to social media to get a “good feel for the candidate’s personality”, to ensure that the profile “conveyed a professional image”, or simply to see that the candidate is “creative, well-rounded, or has great communication skills”. Your online profiles should cater to these needs. This means that your social media isn’t about your social life, it’s about your brand. The content you post should be well curated and suitable for professional contexts. Nothing stops a job application short like posting inappropriate content where it can be publicly seen.
The best place to start building an online presence is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the primary social site dedicated to professional networking. This is where you can showcase your skills and work experience, not unlike a CV, and connect with companies and individuals in your industry. You can even use it to look for jobs. To get you started with your LinkedIn presence, Business Insider has a guide to creating an effective LinkedIn profile here.
Twitter is another great place to demonstrate your hireability. Though it is a much less formal platform, it can still be used to showcase your personality and interests. When well-managed, an active Twitter profile can give employers some insight into what sort of an employee you will be.
This article from The Guardian recommends following and retweeting companies that interest you, as well as using “your own tweets to show your interest in a particular career” and tweeting “about current affairs in the sector you wish to work in”. Elisha Hartwig of Mashable advises showing that you are “interested in what other people are doing and engage with them. Share others' stuff before your share your own.”
Facebook has many industry groups and pages that you can use to connect with your peers. As Shannon Gausepohl at Business News Daily notes, “engaging with industry-specific communities on Facebook is a great way to connect with other people in your field.” She also encourages making “an active effort to delete or untag any questionable past content” and “using the appropriate settings” to ensure that your professional details are searchable by employers, but your personal content stays personal.
Another asset in your online repertoire is a robust personal website. A simple website that collects your various online profiles and depicts you as a passionate professional can be very impressive to a recruiter. This is also a great place to showcase your actual work. A portfolio of completed projects is sure to impress employers. Aja Frost, writing for The Muse about effective personal websites, advises “explaining your value and experience clearly, showing off a few impressive examples of what you can do, and making sure your site looks nice”. Ensure that you have an effective bio, a stylish design, and a robust portfolio, and your personal website will be ready for the job hunt.
Don’t let a bout of unemployment cause you to lag behind on important developments in your field. Just because you aren’t working doesn’t mean you are no longer a professional in your industry, and you need to maintain your interest and knowledge of relevant changes and events.
Follow industry insiders on Twitter for “interesting new developments you should be aware of — company expansions, hiring trends, and more”, says Pamela Skillings of Big Interview. Look for industry pages and thought leaders on Facebook and LinkedIn and follow them for interesting news and insights. Social media is an excellent tool for keeping up to date.
It is also important to participate in the community. Take part in discussion within these online spaces; online engagement could very well become a networking opportunity. Use sites like meetup.com to find local clubs or meetings of your peers. If possible, find a mentor - Andrea Karapas of AlumLine recommends looking for an experienced teacher or thought leader who can “give you new insight and perspective into your shared industry”.
You can also look for media that reports on events and news in your industry. See if you can find your industry in this Forbes list of tech podcasts, this VerticalResponse list of business podcasts, or this HubSpot list of industry blogs. Find forums in your field, such as Hacker News. Look for newsletters that you can sign up for; this QuickBase article recommends the Harvard Business and SmartBrief newsletters. Yael Grauer of Vertical Response also recommends subscribing to trade journals (“you have to actually read the thing”) and browsing relevant websites to identify trends. There are many ways to stay current. Find the medium that works best for you.
If there is one benefit the internet has brought us, it is that you no longer need to leave your home to do almost anything. This includes looking for a job. Though an in-person application is still the best way to connect with a potential employer, there are many job board websites that contain more jobs than you could even apply to.
We at VisualCV have collected a substantial list of job search sites in our article “Job Search Sites - The Ultimate List”. You may also want to peruse this list of the best career apps and websites, curated by Sherri Thomas at Huffington Post.
According to Alison Doyle at The Balance, it is a “good idea to start your online job search by creating an account on at least one of the major job boards” and that “the most effective way to search is to use job keywords to find jobs in the career fields and industries you are interested in”. She also recommends applying “directly on the company website whenever possible, even if you find the listing elsewhere”. This way, the application reaches the company more directly.
You may also have the opportunity to apply for a job via email. If so, you may want to “try to find out the name and title of the person you’ll be mailing your application to” to “help you stand out”, according to Mark Swartz at Monster. You should also be sure to use formal language and have a professional email address, usually some variation of your name.
Job interviews are a singularly stressful aspect of the job hunt for many job seekers. They require a great deal of practice and preparation, and if you are just beginning your career journey, it can be difficult to know what to expect. Fortunately, there are many resources available online that can help you prepare for interviews.
For example, you may want to browse this LiveCareer list of 150 common job interview questions, this Workopolis guide to answering the ten most common job interview questions, or Glassdoor’s collection of interview tips and example questions.
Youtube is another great place for interview advice and examples of interview questions. For example, take a look at videos from Linda Raynier, Don Georgevich, and Snagajob. These career-focused channels are excellent resources from real coaches, with a personal touch not present in simple lists of questions. Listen closely to their advice and implement what you can into your interview practice.
Lastly, there are online coaching services available to give you more direct training for job interviews. Big Interview, for example, offers a training program to assist you to develop interviewing techniques and practice answering industry-specific questions. Work It Daily also offers online career coaching, webinars, and interview advice. Do research to find what kind of coaching best suits your needs. If you are already charismatic and confident, preparing answers may be sufficient. If interviewing makes you nervous, however, an interview coach and lots of practice will be a huge asset.
Whether you are working full-time or looking for work, it is important to consistently maintain your skills and expand your skillset. Consistent personal growth is important to a successful career and a successful life.
There are many tools across the internet that exist for you to build your skills. Skillshare, for example, offers courses in writing, business, design, and more. Lynda offers hundreds of courses in video format, with lessons taught by industry experts. For those in the tech industry, Treehouse is an online programming school with courses in basic programming that include website, application, and game design.
Other options for online learning include Khan Academy, Coursera, MIT Open Courseware, and One Month. You can also look for online adult education classes at your local university or college. Many post secondary institutions offer classes that are fully online and available to anyone.
Online courses are not your only option for building your skillset, of course. Stephanie Gonzaga, writing for the Upwork blog, recommends assigning yourself a project of your own: “If you are a writer, set up a blog or write an ebook. If you are a designer, create logos, themes, and other products that showcase your skills and aesthetics.” You may not need an online course to set goals and create projects for you. If you prefer a more self-directed approach, pursuing your own projects is an excellent way to learn.
A great way to maintain your skills (and supplement your income) while unemployed is to find temporary work while you look for a permanent job. Though the thought of seeking freelance or part-time work and full-time employment at the same time may seem daunting, allowing your skills (and savings) to atrophy while you look for a permanent job is even worse. Fortunately, there are several online tools available that are dedicated to helping you find freelance or part-time work.
Fiverr, for example, is a freelance marketplace where you can sell your skills, set your own price, and choose your own clients. Another option is Freelancer, a platform for browsing projects and opportunities that you can bid on as a freelancer. TaskRabbit is a service that allows people to outsource small tasks like cleaning, shopping, or moving furniture. By joining TaskRabbit and passing their vetting process, you can begin taking small jobs in your own neighbourhood. Other options include LocalSolo, People per Hour, and Craigslist.