We recently launched our new series, “The Answer Zone: A Place for No BS Career Advice” on Blab. The inaugural episode featured as our guests Mark Babbitt, leadership and career mentor and founder of YouTern, and Salina Mendoza, a recruiter based in California.
During that first episode, our conversation focused on how much technology, and particularly social media, has changed the job search over the past few years.
Here are just some of the highlights from our discussion:
The Job Search Has Changed… a Lot
Job seekers must understand just how competitive the job market is today. We need to be almost constantly branding ourselves, raising our visibility and expanding our networks – joining the conversation anywhere we can find it.
The Hiring Process Sucks
There has been a total disruption of the hiring process; we’re torn between those who still recruit like they did in the 90s, and those who use social recruiting to build their teams. We’re still figuring out how to make it work, but there is no denying that it has become more complicated and more competitive.
Because so many companies rely on them throughout the hiring process, you still need a resume. But you need to build relationships far in advance so you can rely on your network, not your resume, in your job search.
Job Boards Suck
We’re obviously being cheeky with our negativity, but we’re also giving you the God’s honest truth: job boards result in fewer jobs per application than any other commonly used resource. On the other hand: according to the LinkedIn Global Recruiting Trends Report for 2015, the big job boards are still the number two recruiting tool for recruiters.
LinkedIn is Essential
As the big player in the career world, it’s easy to criticize LinkedIn for everything (and for being filled with spam. LinkedIn, though, remains the ONE site recruiters use to learn more about you. In fact, 97 percent of recruiters are using LinkedIn. To stand out, you need a damned good profile – and you need to be an active participant (LinkedIn groups, activity updates, LinkedIn Publisher, and more.)
Seek Out Career Focused Networking Groups
Want to get ahead in your career? One of your best bets may be independent job and talent communities:
- You may not be familiar with Albert’s List, but if you’re seeking a job in Tech or the Silicon Valley/Bay area… you should check it out. Founded 2 years ago, it now has nearly 11,000 members and is a superb networking community.
- You should also keep your eye on YouTern (obviously!) and Brazen Careerist – where you’ll meet far more people than you ever could using old fashioned networking.
- Twitter chats like #JobHunt and #InternPro are also fertile grounds for relationship building and raising your visibility. However, understand that you can’t just show up once; you need to be part of the conversation on an ongoing basis to make relationships that work.
For every job and talent community, remember the social golden rule: always give before your take.
No More Chasing the 9-to-5
The traditional 9-to-5, for many of us, is a thing of the past. In fact, remote and contract-based work has changed the landscape for job seekers. Today, 27 percent of Millennials are self employed. The prediction for the entire workforce by 2020: 50 percent of the workforce will be earning a living through contract, temp and freelance work.
avvy job seekers are taking advantage of this trend; they embrace the freelance economy. Just be careful with the type of part-time or remote work you take on – and whenever possible choose to work toward your career goals and don’t simply take whatever comes along.
You Need to Be Able to Answer TWO Questions
Forget that “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question. Or the common “What’s your major?” or “What do you do?” queries. According to Mark, there are two questions a young careerist must be able to answer:
- What are you really, really good at?
- Who will pay you to do that?
These aren’t easy questions to answer; they require considerable thought. However, once you can answer them… you’ll be ahead of about 98% of your job seeking competition.
Millennials Must Work on Soft Skills
The biggest challenge to Millennials in the job market right now? Their lack of soft skills. And it isn’t entirely their fault. In our school system, we’re teaching conformity instead of creativity. We emphasize compliance instead of communication. Somewhere along the way, we lost that entrepreneurial spirit that helps us develop critical work skills like leadership, communication and problem solving.
Get Your Head Up!
Not just Millennials, but everyone, seems to be walking around with their head down, staring at a device instead of making eye contact and making a connection. Millennials need to understand that communication is key to how they’re perceived in the workplace. We all need to understand how important that one new connection might be to our careers.
Be bold. Say “hi” in the elevator. Strike up a conversation in line at Starbucks. Be human.
Internships are Essential
YouTern recommends one internship for every year you’re in college. But any old internship won’t do. Every internship needs to be a quality learning experience that includes mentors.
And internships are just great for learning technical and soft skills: internships, even bad ones, help you learn that you don’t like what you thought you wanted to do, and maybe that it’s time to change majors. As Mark said, it is better to learn that important lesson when you’re 19 – and not when you’re 24 and have student loan payments to make every month.
To watch the entire first episode of “The Answer Zone,” click here!
Today – December 1st at 12 pm PST / 3pm EST – we’ll be back with a new Blab session. This time, Jennie Mustafa-Julock will joins us as we focus squarely on a hot topic for young careerists: Are Unpaid Internships Exploitative? Ethical? Worth Doing?
Join if you can, and bring a friend!
Watch the full episode of ‘The Answer Zone’ here…
About the Author: Amy McCloskey Tobin is a content strategist and creator. She specializes in generational insights, the future of work, the remote workforce, workplace diversity, and how tech has changed the business world. Amy has worked with major online publications to develop content and content strategy. A devotee of social media, Amy believes firmly that great content begets social media community.