The economic downturn and resultant unemployment woes has spurred an increase in non-traditional student enrollment at community colleges and universities. Adult learners are seeking to acquire new or additional skills in order to make themselves more marketable to prospective employers but, sometimes, they find themselves in unfamiliar territory during the job search.
At the height of the recession, the Career Development Center recorded an unprecedented number of alumni in career transition seeking assistance from their alma mater. A few observations were:
- Graduates with 10, 15, 20+ years post graduate experience exhibiting anxiety with regards to their personal and professional dilemma
- Frustration over the length of time they had been unemployed
- Exasperation over the new “rules” in the 21st century job search
Many of those with whom I met never needed a resume when they began working and now were at a loss of how to write a new one. .
The New Landscape
A couple decades ago, job seekers spent time typing a resume on heavy bond paper and mailed their document along with a cover letter. During this period of time, it was also acceptable to merely walk in the front door of a potential employer and hand-deliver your application materials. Globalization and the digital age, however, has altered the career search landscape. Not only is it unadvisable to hand-deliver resumes door-to-door to employers today, but adhering to a few “rules” may assist job seekers in this new era get noticed by a potential employer.
Tips To Navigate the Online Process
Looking for jobs online can be cumbersome, impersonal, limiting, tedious, and time-consuming. Experientially, I know that the online application process can be very frustrating; particularly when, after applying to multiple jobs, you do not get a reply.
Here are just a few tips that individuals reentering the workforce, veterans, and career changers might keep in mind when applying online:
- Research. This is crucial to both your job search and interview preparation. Use Google, Linked In, Wet Feet Guides, Glassdoor.com, Hoover’s, and your network to research company’s and available positions in your chosen field or industry.
- Resume Development. For the most part, whether you’re reentering the workforce, are a returning veteran, or career-changer, you may benefit from a functional resume more than a chronological format. Creating more than one version is always recommended. Speak with a career counselor for more advice on developing a format that will best enhance your background, skills, and experience.
- Remember: Use Keywords. As mentioned, technology has changed the job search process. Baby boomers, who once faxed or mailed resumes, find it difficult to understand the new process by which resumes are now filtered through resume scanning software. Job seekers today have to infuse their documents with industry-specific buzz words to navigate past the scanning gate-keeping software. Otherwise you run the risk of your materials being sent to that resume abyss where no response will ever be forthcoming.
- Rely on Networking More Than Job-Boarding. An estimated 75% of all people hired are a direct result of networking. Conducting Information Interviews and utilizing social media vehicles such as Linked In, Twitter, and Facebook are strategic measures to enhance your job search, and have been proven to yield a better return on investment (ROI) than culling the job boards.
It is essential for job seekers to have a daily Mission Action Plan (MAP) to circumvent the borders of discouragement during a lengthy job search. Also, the accountability and camaraderie of participating in a Job Club while you are searching for employment can be very rewarding.
For more information, please visit your Career Development Center.
Donnell Turner, GCDF