I recently had the pleasure of sitting on a panel for the Austin, TX chapter of the American Marketing Association. We were addressing the current job market to an audience of individuals seeking jobs in the marketing field. One of the panelists was T.J. Jaeckle, a Recruiting Manager for Solarwinds, a company which makes storage, application, server, and network management software. He has over 15 years experience as an information technology recruiter and has helped corporations nationwide find the best candidates for their organizations.
His comments on the current job market and strategies for employment were so on-target, I thought I would share them with you. I have compiled his responses to various audience questions into a list of 10 key observations about the job search. (Please note: These are not necessarily verbatim quotes from Mr. Jaeckle, but rather a paraphrasing from my notes. I have added some comments and links.)
1. From a recruiter's perspective, the big generic job boards are dead. General job boards don't provide the targeted responses that recruiters are seeking these days.
2. LinkedIn rules for job searches. And employers are not just looking at your basic profile. They are searching for keywords related to their job descriptions-- and your group memberships. Yes, they are interested in the groups you have joined as a sign of your commitment to that career field. Employers often contact individuals whose profiles match their needs, rather than waiting for a candidate to apply. They are also posting their job openings on LinkedIn. For more info, here's a posting on LinkedIn and the job search.
3. Resumes are generally becoming less valuable, at least as the first point of contact with an employer. They will always be needed in some capacity, but it's arguably more important to have a strong social media platform.
4. Contrary to common advice, jobseekers should not avoid the Human Resource office and contact the hiring manager directly. Many hiring managers don't want to be bothered by candidates-- they want HR to handle the initial screens. Jaeckle admits this is a judgment call; some hiring managers are open to conversations with candidates. Since there's no way to know, never leave HR out of the loop.
5. Twitter is the up and coming device for jobs. Recruiters often send a tweet about their latest openings the minute they are posted-- long before a search engine finds them. If you see a job on Twitter, pounce on it fast. Use Tweetdeck to manage your twitter feeds. (Here's my blog post on using Twitter in your job search.)
6. Be wary of interviewers who tell you to relax. Hiring managers love to "relax" interviewees so they get comfortable and say things they wouldn't normally say. Never "relax" in an interview.
7. As far as gaps on your resume due to time off, or other "red flags" on your resume, Jaeckle said, "All we're looking for is a good story." How can you explain that time period? Recruiters need a story so that when someone above them questions them, they can provide a good answer. This is generally good advice and true of any area where someone might question your ability to do the job-- can you tell a story that illustrates for the interviewer how you will overcome whatever concern an employer might have?
8. If you're trying to enter a different career field from what you were trained in, try to find a "sponsor": someone already in the field who will advocate for you. This is where your network comes in handy, so start connecting through groups on Linked In.
9. Mr. Jaeckle extolled the value of "word clouds" for identifying the keywords on a resume-- he even puts candidate resumes into word cloud software such as Wordle to see what words show up. A very powerful exercise would be for you to turn the announcement for the job you're seeking into a word cloud and compare its word cloud to the one created from your resume. Do they match? (For more info, read this post.)
10. A final tip: to help identify companies that are likely to be hiring, enter "recruiter" as a job title into Indeed.com. Notice what companies are seeking recruiters or other human resources personnel-- chances are those companies are gearing up for a large number of new hires.
Thanks to the Austin AMA and Mr. Jaeckle for providing such helpful services to job seekers.
Image credit: Lifehacker