11 Survival Secrets for Job Hunting in the Digital Age

If you are a senior executive, job hunting in the digital age can be fraught with potential challenges. Ted Pryor of Greenwich Harbor Partners offers 11 survival secrets for job hunting in the digital age.

In an era of massive technological change, employers are challenged to identify better ways to source and engage talent, according to recruiters. The reality is the talent management market has radically shifted, and continues to do so. When the last economic downturn of 2008 forced companies to cut recruiting costs, more economical platforms like LinkedIn and job aggregator Indeed rose in dominance.

But according to Ted Pryor, managing director with Greenwich Harbor Partners, job hunting in the digital age can be a potential challenge, with many executives not having had to think about it for many years.

“Much more important today would be freshening up your LinkedIn profile,” said Mr. Pryor. “I often see a lot of brilliant resumes but very stiff, very minimalist Linkedin profiles. You’ve got to be thinking about your online presence and make sure it’s best in class.”

Finding Jobs in the Digital Age

In this brand new episode of ‘Talent Talks,’ we tackle ‘How to Interview in the Digital Age’ with Ted Pryor, managing director of Greenwich Harbor Partners. According to Mr. Pryor, technology is rapidly changing the way we work, but it’s also changing the way we interview, something many executives haven’t done in years. “Some executives may not have interviewed in 10 years,” said Mr. Pryor. “Technology has changed in that time period, and they need to be thinking about interviewing in the digital age.”

Listen now to our latest ‘Working Digital’ podcast.

Here are 11 survival secrets Mr. Pryor offers for job hunting in the digital age:

1. Yes, you need a new resume.

But in the digital age, that should be 10 percent of your job hunting effort. “A good resume should only be delivered upon request,” said Mr. Pryor. “It should be factual and focused on the last 10 years of work. You should highlight any digital initiatives you led, supported or championed,” he said. “Assume your audience has less than 15 seconds to read your resume and make it as easy as possible to absorb in this timeframe.”

2. More importantly, you need a good LinkedIn profile.

Like it or not, LinkedIn is the dominant online marketplace and your presence there is critical. “Take pity on researchers who may be looking for precisely your background and provide enough information that their search algorithms can find you,” Mr. Pryor said. Put in keywords that highlight your strengths.

“You should Google yourself and see what is there,” said Mr. Pryor. “Do your best to control your online look, keep it fresh and professional.”

3. You must make sure your office technology skills are current.

Senior executives in the digital age are 100 percent current on using their smartphone, emailing, video conferencing and making changes to documents. “You must be 24/7 responsive to any inquiries that come in and that includes being able to ship your resume upon request even if that means you are on the beach over Christmas vacation,” said Mr. Pryor. “Facetime, Skype and Google Hangouts should be familiar. If you have the slightest anxiety about any of these technologies, take a tutorial or sign up for a class,” he said. “Though you are not likely to be doing any programming, a short programming or software class gets you under the hood as to some of the problems your colleagues are facing.”

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4. Address your online presence and make sure it is all current.

Do a search on yourself and see what pops up. “You can’t always control everything out there, but make sure you have current profile information and a headshot on the visible sites you can control,” Mr. Pryor suggested. Your profiles on Google, Facebook and Instagram should be up-to-date with current contact information and pictures. Employers do look at these sites and you should be comfortable with the images there or switch your account to “private.” Make sure former companies are not listing you as an executive.

5. I would not spend a lot of time on online job sites unless they are very specific to your industry and function.

Even then it may be better to network to the company directly until they ask you to submit your application online. Senior positions are very rarely advertised. “Most senior-level positions are going to go through an internal or external recruiter, and it is better to be referred to them if at all possible,” said Mr. Pryor. The online marketplace can be seductive, but it is low probability and your time is better spent elsewhere.

6. Use the power of the internet to target your next company.

In a few hours, you can learn which companies in your area of interest are growing and which have just gotten funding. You can learn which have a good reputation and are known as good places to work. Mr. Pryor said you can learn if a position has recently been vacated or there is an ‘acting head.’ You must use the power of the internet to develop and target lists of companies and the criteria you will use to rank them.

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New research from Totaljobs Group has revealed that three quarters (74 percent) of interviewers will check candidates’ social media as part of their interview preparation. This is in contrast to the expectations of candidates, however, as only a third (36 percent) expect their social media to be screened, meaning many could be caught short online.

7. Use the power of the internet to network.

This should be the majority of your effort. Do you know anyone on the management team or the board of the companies you are interested in? Do you know anyone who can introduce you? What do you have in common with the leadership that you can use to open a door? Are there alumni from your university or former companies that can guide you? Are there any vendors or agencies that you can network with who knows what is going on?  “If you see a company or a position you are excited about, send an email to the CEO,” Mr. Pryor said. “If you are a great fit, there is a good chance they will react.”

8. Use the power of the internet to prepare for an interview.

Of course, you have read the company’s website and looked up the backgrounds of the people you will be meeting. But have you read any white papers the company has posted? Have you read customer reviews? Have you looked at competitors’ or partners’ websites? Can you see the backgrounds of people who had this position before you? If it is a new geography, have you looked at articles about the area? Have you checked housing prices or the reputation of the schools?

9. Prepare for the likelihood of digital interviews and online personality exams.

Phone interviews and video interviews are rapidly replacing in-person interviews and you need to think about your image in these environments. Some candidates set up a spot in their home for video interviews and make sure the background is neutral. “Check the quality of your PC camera and lighting so that you don’t look like a zombie,” Mr. Pryor said. “Always log on 10 minutes early to make sure all systems are working. There is not much preparation you can do for a personality exam except to recognize that you will influence the outcome by the answers you give and you should always take them in a quiet moment,” he said.

10. Prepare a careful list of how you have used technology to advance your business.

These days almost all companies are “tech-enabled” and all executives will be expected to be “tech savvy.”  You may not be a programmer and may correctly feel that people are spending too much time on their smartphones, but you must be able to point to how you used technology in your business to streamline processes, reduce costs or increase revenues, Mr. Pryor shared.

11. The in-person interview is still critical.

The good news is that in the digital age, once a company brings you in for a live interview, they know a lot about you and may be ready to make a positive decision. Hopefully, your personal presence will confirm the information, images and reputation that has already been built up during the process. “In-person interviews are only going to go away in situations where the team is working entirely remotely,” Mr. Pryor said. “Dress for success, arrive on time and be yourself.”

Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; Will Schatz, Managing Editor and Andrew W. Mitchell, Podcast Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media.

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