Looking for a new job? Switch on your computer, access a cover letter – a generic one would apply to all – attach your most updated resume, and hit “Send”. Process done. Now, it’s a matter of time before the recruiter or hiring manager gets in touch with you for an interview – after all, you have the qualifications and the experience. Think again.
This process may have been sufficient to get yourself noticed for the right jobs perhaps 15 years ago. But today, the process has gone through a sea of change, says Sabrina Ho, founder and CEO of recruiting company, Half The Sky. “When I first started out in the recruiting industry, Linkedin wasn’t prominent at all. We also didn’t really use social media tools such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for the recruiting process. But all that has changed,” adds the #HerWorldTribe member.
Age of social recruiting
It is not surprising that recruiters and in-house talent acquisition personnel are increasingly searching for candidates on social media, with Linkedin being the most popular.
“Now, it’s the age of social recruiting,” says Sabrina. So how does it work?
“When utilising social media to headhunt, we put in certain keywords and search within those parameters. Majority of the times, those candidates will be passive – employed and not actively searching for a job,” she explains.
Beat the bot
An ATS parses every resume that comes in, and only sends the relevant and most qualified job seeker to the hiring manager – who spends about seven seconds on your resume. So your resume has to be attractive enough to pass the first trial by fire.
First of all, get out of the one-resume-fits-all mindset, says Naomi Pinkerton, head of Human Resources at BHG (Singapore).
“Research the role and make sure you have a good idea of what the requirements are, what the company is looking for – then customise your resume and cover letter so that these areas are highlighted in an obvious way,” says Naomi.
Sabrina refers to it as the “spray and pray approach”. “Many candidates do not tailor their resume to suit the specific job descriptions. As a result, your resume gets screened out in seconds by the ATS bot, so no one gets to see it,” she says.
Fortunately, the ATS bot reads like a human being does – from left to right and top to bottom. So, make sure your resume and cover letter follow a logical sequence, says Naomi.
“List your key achievements for each role, so the hiring manager can see the relevant information quickly. For managerial roles, it’s important to be clear about the accountabilities you have or have had, as candidates for such roles are commonly expected to have managed complex projects, teams, budgets, and even profit and loss responsibility. So setting all this out clearly can set a resume apart,” she adds. There is also such a thing as too much information.
“Do not highlight your entire 20 years of work history. Work experience beyond the past 10 or 15 years will not be as relevant as your current role. For anything beyond that, it is enough to indicate the important details, such as name of the company, title and location,” says Sabrina.
Connect, network, follow up
Job applications are a waiting game, but there are ways in which candidates can ensure that they stand out. “Right after you send the application, find out who the hiring manager or head of department is and connect with them via Linkedin – make sure to add a polite note with your invite – and follow up,” says Sabrina. This is something that a lot of candidates fail to do, she adds.
Another piece of advice she gives her candidates: Don’t resign without a job offer on the table if you can help it.
“The job search process can easily take three to six months. So, the mental stress will be higher if you are sitting at home and just searching for three to six months before your next job,” she says. Instead, it may be prudent to focus on building your online presence.