In a tough economy, landing a job isn’t impossible, but it can feel like it. Students coming out of college face a more difficult task than studying for finals week. They have to sell their skills and abilities to potential employers, which means crafting that perfect resume that will help them stand out from the pack. But how?
The format for the resume has changed over the years, especially with the addition of new technologies and the creation of social networks, and these new trends can help candidates in their job search.
Most job seekers know finding a great position in today’s economy will probably be an uphill climb,” said Josh Tolan, CEO of SparkHire. “This is why many candidates are using new and less traditional methods of applying for great jobs.”
Several people have found success thinking outside the box. One person sent Resume Bars, which were chocolate bars with a wrapping that featured their resume. And Victor Petit, who was looking for an internship with a communication agency, was able to put himself ahead of the pack – and land the internship – with his innovative QR Code resume.
But you don’t have to go over the top with their resume to find success. You just need to be smart about how to make these emergent trends work for you.
Using Social Media to Land a Job
There really are too many options for social networking. The Internet is home to approximately 115 social media networks that have more than 1 million users. But for career purposes, there are only a few that can be used as assets.
“One of the best trends for job seekers to set themselves apart from the pack and land a job is to embrace social media,” Tolan said. “This could be as simple as keeping your online profiles professional to something as creative as using a twesume.”
That’s not a typo. It stands for “Twitter resume,” and the twesume is one of the newest social media trends for helping people land jobs. In 140 characters or less, Twitter users highlight their skills and add a link enabling employers to find out more about who they are. Here’s an example:
— Tracy Bagatelle(@tracybb) February 13, 2012
LinkedIn has always been focused on employment, and a great way to augment your digital resume on the site is to earn recommendations from current and former employers, project partners, and professors. To maximize the professional approach, you should fill out necessary information like your experience, education, and skills and expertise.
Obviously, no one is going to be able to follow or connect with everyone on a particular social network, but connecting with people, businesses, and groups in a specific industry is a way to open doors to job openings.
Penelope Trunk, founder of Brazen Careerist, said networking through social media is a good way to get the attention of a hiring manager. Once you have the hiring manager’s attention, send the resume.
“That’s the most effective way to get an interview — to get directly in the line of the hiring manager,” she said.
Heather Hiles, CEO of Pathbrite, said another smart use of social media is to showcase your passions as well as your work-related skills, since personal pursuits aren’t always reflected on a resume. Becoming a subject matter expert on a blog or Twitter is a way to demonstrate thought leadership and a desire to innovate.
Tolan added that social media can be used to get the attention of more than just the hiring managers. It can create a network of individuals in the desired industry, which can open doors to advancing in your career.
“Social media is a great place to connect with others in your industry, as well as hiring managers and recruiters from great companies,” Tolan added. “The more personal connections you form and the more networking you do, the more likely you are to find out about hidden job opportunities.”
He added that when reaching out to employees, you should be sure to include links to social media profiles, industry-specific blogs, video resumes, and work portfolios.
Sometimes being subtle with social networking is a plus. When emailing employers and hiring managers, add an About.me link under your signature. This is a great way to fill people in on who you are as a person. It’s like having a digital resume attached to every email you send.
“Candidates are being innovative by becoming more aware of their personal branding and how it plays a role in their employment,” Hiles added. “Sites like About.me, Flavors.me, and Zerply allow users to customize branded pages, share their resume or LinkedIn profiles, and link to their social media identifies for employers to review.”
Use Open Courseware to Boost Your Skills
Landing a job right after graduation — or even a few years down the road — can be a hassle. Some employers need a little more incentive to make a hire. Having a degree is great, but pursuing online avenues of education like massive open online courses (MOOCs) can let an employer know you’re serious about learning.
“Supplementing your education and experience with MOOCs shows employers your initiative and desire to improve your existing skill set,” Hiles said.
She added that Pathbrite enables its users to import their Khan Academy course badges onto their portfolios to help them differentiate themselves from other applicants.
What’s more, many job seekers have periods where they are recovering from unemployment, and filling these employment gaps with self-directed courses can be a big plus when applying for a job.
“Additional educational experience is always a plus on a resume,” Tolan said. “Whether it’s a MOOC, a digital badge, or a professional certification, acquiring more education shows your commitment to learning. It also shows your commitment to your particular career track, showing that you have real and genuine passion for your field.”
For Trunk, the idea is simple. It’s not about where you learned the information but what you do with that knowledge.
“Use the information you learn in those courses to do great work,” she said. “Put the great work on the resume, not the courses.”
The Paper Resume: Do’s and Don’ts
A physical resume is still used by a majority of job seekers. It’s not a bad idea. It’s plain and simple. But that just might be what’s wrong with it.
A standard document (like one from Microsoft Word) may seem like it needs to be spiced up, but it’s important not to go too far.
“Do not be innovative with your resume,” Trunk said. “A resume is a way to compare apples to apples. Recruiters go through hundreds of resumes at a time. It’s totally annoying to look at a resume that doesn’t follow conventional formatting.”
In other words, you should focus on the content, not the format. You only have a small window of opportunity to let the hiring manager or recruiter know who you are, not just what you do.
“Make sure your resume shows what value you can bring to the company,” Tolan said. “Don’t just list off the tasks involved in your day-to-day office life.Tell a story! Explain how you’ve gone over and above your job description and demonstrated your value at your current position. Use your resume to tell the story of why you would be the perfect candidate for the job, instead of leaving it as a staid and boilerplate document. Let the employer use your resume as a jumping-off point to learn more about you.”
Since most communication has gone digital, it only makes sense to use new media to show off your work skills and accomplishments. The traditional resume rarely shows the personality of the applicant, but digital portfolios let employers get a true glimpse at their potential employee.
“At Pathbrite, our portfolios allow users to curate and showcase evidence of their skills and achievements, as well as their online identities,” Hiles said. “These web-based applications are accessible by anyone and require little to no design experience, which makes it easier for non-creative industries to use these platforms and stand out from the crowd.”
Users of digital portfolios are not restricted to creating bullet points on a paper, but are able to display their professional capabilities and some of their previous projects. It is an interactive venue for job seekers looking to gain an advantage on many who have not caught on to this trend.
Here are several online options for creating a digital portfolio rather than sticking with the traditional resume:
- Pathbrite allows you to create an unlimited amount of portfolios to showcase anything from a resume to your talent as a musician. Whatever can help tell your story and demonstrate who you are as a person can be placed in a portfolio. Add photos, videos, previous work, awards.
- SquareSpace gives you your own website on the cheap. You can place your work here in a stylish manner and entice employers with you have to offer.
- Prezi is set up for innovative slide presentations, and there is no better subject to present than yourself. Creating a resume that is interactive and informative is great for business and IT professionals. This online format will enable employers to view your resume and your professional timeline in a visually appealing way.
Creating an engaging and impressionable resume could also be as simple as pushing Record. There are various online startup companies that help graduates look more appealing to employers, recruiters, and hiring managers through video.
Tolan said that a video resume enables job seekers to display their intangibles that won’t come through on a traditional paper resume, especially their communication skills. He added that it can capture the attention of a hiring manager or recruiters better than traditional resumes.
“A recent survey showed recruiters only spend about six seconds on average looking at a traditional paper resume,” he said. “At approximately 60 seconds in length, a video resume will receive 10 times the amount of attention the paper resume gets. Plus, by being more personal, the video resume helps job seekers become more memorable to hiring managers sorting through stacks of similar credentials.”
Here are a few online options to use for assembling a video resume or adding a video to your resume:
- SparkHire enables its registered users to create video resumes and post them to job boards or send them to recruiters or hiring managers. Through this innovative technology, you’re able to conduct asynchronous interviews and live interviews to connect with recruiters and hiring managers. It is also available on mobile devices.
- Talent Rooster lets you create a video resume or simply a video cover sheet to discuss who you are. The format can be assembled at home with a personal computer, or you can schedule an appointment with a Talent Rooster recruiter. Video resumes can be placed or linked directly into your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube account for easy access by potential employers.
- YouTube is the most popular video service online, which means you probably already know how to use it. This social media network can also be used as a service to help put you right in front a hiring manager.
With so much competition in the job market today, it’s a good idea to institute some of the ideas into your job search. It’s not a guarantee that these trend tips will land you a job, but making yourself stand out from everyone else will definitely increase your chances. Whether scouring the social network for ways into a hiring manager’s good graces or continuing your education with MOOCs and badges, be sure to put the effort in for a chance to have it pay off.
Recruiters and hiring managers are looking for prospects who are working to separate themselves from the pack. The traditional resume is not dead, by any means, but recent trends have proven there are ways to liven up your hiring status.