For millions of under-employed or unhappily employed workers, the time may have finally come to take the plunge back into the job market.
Several months of robust employment data confirm that not only are employers are hiring, again, but in some industries, you can almost write your own contract. Even so, career experts say that competition for the best jobs remains fierce, and the search process has changed since the recession.
Here’s what you need to know about job-hunting in today’s environment:
Forget about “grabbing coffee.” While social networks have gotten infinitely more important, real-life networking is still key to the job hunt. Alumni events and industry gatherings are prime time for making new connections, with whom you can follow up online.
One-on-one meetings have become rare. “With the pace of work today, a lot of people can’t spare the time to leave the office and meet you for coffee,” says Michele Woodward, a career strategist in the Washington, D.C. area. Instead, ask for a 20-minute phone conversation.
Related: 10 Ways Parents Can Hurt Their Child’s Job Chances
Make your resume mobile-friendly. Like everything else, the hiring process now begins on mobile devices—for both job seekers looking for listings and human resource managers looking for potential hires. A third of recruiters now use phones and tablets to search for candidates, and more than half surveyed in October said they planned to increase their investment in mobile this year, according to Jobvite, a social recruiting system for employers.
To make the best digital first impression, be sure that your resume is easily downloadable and formatted to be read clearly via a mobile device.
Highlight only high-tech skills. Nothing says out-of-touch like a resume that includes the line “Proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel,” says career expert Kerry Hannon. Employers expect new hires to have expertise in those basic programs as well as social media and basic content management systems. Use the space on your resume to highlight accomplishments or more in-demand tech skills like coding or data analysis.
Broaden your horizons. The jobs recovery has taken place nationwide, but some cities are experiencing faster growth than others. As the economy improves, more companies are willing to help foot the relocation bill for qualified candidates. In its most recent relocation survey, moving company Atlas Van Lines found that 41 percent of firms had relocated more employees. “You’re more likely to find better opportunities if you’re willing to relocate,” says David Boggs, the head of WK Advisors, which is a division of executive recruitment firm Witt/Kieffer, based in Oak Brook, IL.
Be ready to interview virtually. Companies may be willing to move you across the country once you’re hired, but they won’t fly you across the country for your first interview. Instead, be ready to chat via phone or videoconference. Treat that first conversation just like you would an in-person interview: dress in business attire, smile throughout, and keep your eyes just to the right of the camera to simulate eye contact. Also, be sure to eliminate noise like barking dogs or any background distractions. “No one wants to see the beer and wine bottles in your kitchen,” says Jane Horowitz, a career coach who runs More Than a Resume.
Double up on the Thank You’s. Sending a quick email ‘Thank You’ right after the interview will keep you top of mind right away. Writing one by hand and sending it by snail mail will surface your name again a few days later, and help you stand out from applicants who no longer take the time for the hand-written note.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: