Before the days of iChat, Skype or Facebook, Nancy Racette, chief operating officer of DRI Consulting in Arlington, Va., would conduct video interviews with potential candidates at her local Kinkos. Today, she can look at an applicants resume, professional profile and Twitter account, all on her Blackberry. While advanced technology has helped the job recruitment and executive search game evolve, the basic principles have stayed the same, Racette said. The Internet has only leveled the playing field.
Getting a job, in any sector, has always been about networking, she said. That hasnt changed.
Only now, there are more ways for recruiters and job seekers to network. It is important to realize that networking sites are not to be used under one umbrella, Racette said. Electronic identity is everything when it comes to first impressions.
However you present yourself electronically makes a difference in peoples perceptions, and how they may find you, she said. LinkedIn is a professional resource and you should use it as such. Facebook is a friends and family thing; its not a professional thing.
Gone are the days of mailing out resumes and cover letters, and waiting by the phone in hopeful anticipation. Recruiters today are working in a 24/7 world with unrestricted access to candidates. In a tough economy and competitive job market, Racette said applicants need to brand themselves, and the Web is a great tool to do just that.
I’m not sure people develop their brand, and they should, she said. Treat yourself like a product. Marketing is really important. If you catch my attention (online), I will call you for the rest.
Although developing an online brand is essential, Racette said it is also important to develop a healthy balance between time spent on the Internet and out connecting with real people. Be careful about how much time you are spending on what you are doing online, she said. If you have 24/7 to tweet, how can you do your job? Fundraising and nonprofits are still pretty people-intensive businesses. You have to be spending time raising money, delivering services and educating people.
The look and feel
The platform might have changed, but the modern resume still serves the same purpose as its older counterpart — to get your foot in the door. The Web allows recruiters to more easily investigate job seekers, and also enables candidates to study what charities are working on to gather important facts about the organization itself. Those in search of a job can even contact recruiters directly, said Stephen Albert, partner at executive search firm Albert Hall & Associates in Hartford, Conn.
The resume is a tool to try to get someones attention to hopefully get you in a room and have a conversation, Albert said. It still needs to perform that function with clarity.
The body of an email has become increasingly important because it has taken the place of the cover letter, he said. What I think is new now is that the email has to have its own very specific purpose in terms of what is in the body, to get the recruiter to open the resume, Albert said. It is always important when you are responding to an opportunity to be specific about how your skills and ability align with what you perceive to be the needs of that organization. Its just like when anyone visits your Web site, you want them to move to the point of action; you want an email to be crisp and inviting.
Sculpting the resume to cater to a certain position is important as well, even for entry-level candidates. Resumes should reflect achievements, not just what a job entailed while the seeker worked there, Albert said.
I am always surprised by people who want employers and recruiters to connect the dots, as opposed to capturing it and making it clear who they are, what they are looking for, and what they have done, he said. Identify what your strengths are, where you want to be, determine what possibilities exist and network. Eventually you get yourself in front of someone who can hopefully say Yes to you.
Racette said creating a shorter resume that caters to smartphones is ideal for the initial connection, and it should be made clear that more information is available if needed. Two pages is acceptable for the modern resume, she said, as long as primary skill sets are included, as well as where a candidate has worked in chronological order. Most importantly, candidates must back up their words with some details and evidence.
I think people need to be able to prove beyond just saying it, that they are creative and entrepreneurial. In these economic times, we need people who have more than just people skills, she said. Candidates always tell me they are Great with people and want to make a difference. You dont stand out just by saying that to me.
Racette said the average search lasts close to four months. Ann Worley, editor and creative consultant at Chicago, Ill.-based Careers in Nonprofits, said writing a candidate summary or profile at the top of a resume is also vital when considering smartphone optimization for resumes. Instead of just having a simple resume goal, the summary should also say who you are as a candidate, and what type of position you are seeking.
Knowing keywords that are pertinent to that position will capture a potential recruiters attention, Worley said. It is intensified just how important this is (for smartphones). A lot of folks are looking on their Blackberry and just seeing a snippet and deciding in 10 or 15 seconds whether they will continue reading.
With the ever-growing presence of social networking and new media, Albert said he often searches YouTube to find videos of potential candidates lecturing or being interviewed. In addition, he searches social and professional networking platforms. You get a sense of how they present themselves — their energy, their articulateness, he said. That has become a new and certainly great thing about the Internet; you can find just about anyone.
Interviewers are also utilizing Web capabilities such as Skype and iChat to contact potential hires. The best thing about this technology is that it is making communication faster and easier, Albert said. We are simply going towards the ability to access individuals in a speedy manner, which is very helpful.
David Cheng, managing partner at DRG, Inc. in New York City, said Skype has significantly reduced the cost of video interviewing and conferencing. Likewise, YouTube helps to weed out potential candidates for senior level positions, Cheng said.
We can view from our desktop in an easy and simple way our CEOs in public presentations,he said. The nature of a CEO is someone who is a spokesperson for an organization and who has a certain presence about them. We see videos demonstrate that for candidates, and also those who may not be a good fit.
However, once it comes down to the wire, Cheng said he reminds his staff that in-person is the best approach, despite the convenience of technology.
At a certain level it is high-touch, not high tech, he said. Information is so readily accessible on the Web, Albert said, making it important for resumes, cover letters and interviews to be extremely well researched and thought out. Blanket statements will not cut it, especially in today’s economic environment.
You’ve got to be pinpointed, he said. In this market, it is critical. The shot gun approach (to applying for jobs) gives you the sense you are doing something, but is probably not the most strategic way to move forward as you are trying to get interviews. It comes through in the letter, the resume and most importantly, once you get into that room.
Modern technology is making things both easier and more complicated at once, Racette said. While it is convenient to answer an email on the fly, it also can be challenging when filtering information about potential hires. Because there is more volume and less privacy online, lines have become increasingly blurred for recruiters. Therefore job seekers should be very cautious about what information is available about them online.
I can find out if you are broke, Racette said of candidates. Should I be using that to determine if I should hire you? Probably not, but organizations probably do. You don’t have the chance to protect yourself from that today. The Internet is a good supplemental too, and it makes our world that much smaller. NPT