NYT: How Job Seekers Can Say 'Look at Me' to Online Recruiters
IF you are thinking of looking for a job this year, or are already searching for one, be warned: for some job seekers, the rules have changed. Technology and social media have altered the way some employers consider candidates. Simply sifting through job postings and sending out applications en masse was never a good route to success, and is even less so now.
One of the most important questions that many job seekers can ask these days is this: How searchable am I? Some employers aren't even bothering to post jobs, but are instead searching online for the right candidate, said Barbara Safani, owner of Career Solvers, a career management firm in New York.
Not having an Internet presence can be damaging, Ms. Safani said. She is among those who recommend that job seekers spend serious time detailing their skills and experience on commercial sites like LinkedIn and Twitter, with an eye toward making their names a magnet for search engines.
"Having a blog can be a good way to show that you are a thought leader" while improving your professional visibility, she said. And consider YouTube as a way to enhance your searchability, she advised. If an employer comes across a video of you giving a speech or a training presentation, she said, you may gain an advantage.
More companies are turning to Twitter as a way to broadcast job openings, so you should use it to follow recruiters, industry leaders and individual companies, said Alison Doyle, a job search specialist for About.com. She said that by linking to articles and sharing your expertise on Twitter, you can enhance your professional reputation - though you should beware of the site's potential as a time drain.
On Facebook, "liking" a company can mean receiving early notice of job openings and other news. But privacy concerns make Facebook tricky, Ms. Doyle said: Make sure you understand who is receiving which of your posts, or resolve to be thoroughly professional on Facebook at all times, she said. Be aware that hiring managers may see what you post on any of the major social media outlets, she added.
OLD-FASHIONED, personal networking can still be an effective way to land a job, but online networking now supplements it in many fields. Both Ms. Safani and Ms. Doyle say LinkedIn is a very important Web tool for making those connections.
The site offers premium services for a fee, but almost all of the main features for job seekers are free, Ms. Doyle said. Spend a few minutes on the site each day making new connections, she advised, and keep your profile up to date.
To improve the chances that a connection request will be accepted, especially from someone you don't know, send a personal message along with it, noting, say, your similar backgrounds, said Nicole Williams, a consultant who works as a career expert for LinkedIn.
Baldly asking someone at a company for help in landing a job is never a good idea, on LinkedIn or anywhere else. Share links and advice with people in your LinkedIn network before asking for a favor like an introduction to a hiring manager or a written recommendation that would appear on the site. If you are seeking a particular position, Ms. Doyle said, you might say something like: "I'm interested in this job. Do you have any information that you can share with me?"
Joining industry groups on LinkedIn can build your visibility. You can also join college alumni organizations or other focused groups, like one for working mothers.
Make full use of the skills section of LinkedIn, Ms. Williams advised, and the more specific you are, the better. Instead of saying that you have marketing skills, note the exact areas - direct mail campaigns, for example. LinkedIn can direct you to companies that are seeking these skills so you can follow them. Listing your skills could also bring you to the notice of a recruiter.
Be aware, too, that an employer may be viewing your application via a mobile phone. Mobile traffic involving job search more than doubled in 2012 over 2011 at the employment site Indeed.com, said Rony Kahan, a co-founder and C.E.O. So make sure you know how your résumé and cover letter look on a small screen. Résumés should be in a PDF format so they can be viewed on a variety of phones.
In the age of online applications, one school of thought holds that cover letters are a waste of time, but Ms. Doyle disagrees. Cover letters are still a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition, she said - and the rise of applications via cellphone just means they should be more concise, and specific to the job at hand.
NYT: Employers Increasingly Rely on Internal Referrals in Hiring
Riju Parakh wasn't even looking for a new job.
But when a friend at Ernst & Young recommended her, Ms. Parakh's résumé was quickly separated from the thousands the firm receives every week because she was referred by a current employee, and within three weeks she was hired. "You know how long this usually takes," she said. "It was miraculous."
While whom you know has always counted in hiring, Ms. Parakh's experience underscores a fundamental shift in the job market. Big companies like Ernst & Young are increasingly using their own workers to find new hires, saving time and money but lengthening the odds for job seekers without connections, especially among the long-term unemployed.
The trend, experts say, has been amplified since the end of the recession by a tight job market and by employee networks on LinkedIn and Facebook, which can help employers find candidates more quickly and bypass reams of applications from job search sites like Monster.com.
Some, like Ernst & Young, the accounting firm, have set ambitious internal goals to increase the proportion of hirings that come from internal referrals. As a result, employee recommendations now account for 45 percent of nonentry-level placements at the firm, up from 28 percent in 2010.
The company's goal is 50 percent. Others, such as Deloitte and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, have begun offering prizes like iPads and large-screen TVs in addition to traditional cash incentives for employees who refer new hires.
Economists and other experts say the recession has severed networks for many workers, especially the long-term unemployed, whose ranks have remained high even as the economy recovers.
Nearly 4.8 million Americans have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, according to the Labor Department, three times as many as in late 2007. The typical unemployed worker has been jobless for 38 weeks, compared with 17 weeks before the recession.
While the overall unemployment rate has edged downward recently, little improvement is expected for the long-term jobless when data for December is released by the Labor Department on Friday.
"The long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged people don't have access to the network," said Mara Swan, executive vice president for global strategy and talent at Manpower Group, which provides temporary help and job placement services. "The more you've been out of the work force, the weaker your connections are."
Although Ernst & Young looks at every résumé submitted, "a referral puts them in the express lane," said Larry Nash, director of experienced and executive recruiting there. Indeed, as referred candidates get fast-tracked, applicants from other sources like corporate Web sites, Internet job boards and job fairs sink to the bottom of the pile.
"You're submitting your résumé to a black hole," said John Sullivan, a human resources consultant for large companies who teaches management at San Francisco State University. "You're not going to find top performers at a job fair. Whether it's fair or not, you need to have employees make referrals for you if you want to find a job."
Among corporate recruiters, Mr. Sullivan said, random applicants from Internet job sites are sometimes referred to as "Homers," after the lackadaisical, doughnut-eating Homer Simpson. The most desirable candidates, nicknamed "purple squirrels" because they are so elusive, usually come recommended.
"We call it Monster.ugly," said Mr. Sullivan, referring to Monster.com. "In the H.R. world, applicants from Monster or other job boards carry a stigma."
Monster.com did not respond to a request for comment.
Even getting in the door for an interview is becoming more difficult for those without connections. Referred candidates are twice as likely to land an interview as other applicants, according to a new study of one large company by three economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. For those who make it to the interview stage, the referred candidates had a 40 percent better chance of being hired than other applicants.
For many companies, the odds are even more lopsided. At Sodexo, a food service and facilities management company that hires 4,600 managers and executives a year, referred employees are 10 times more likely to be hired than other applicants.
"We're focusing on what will be most efficient," said Arie Ball, Sodexo's vice president for talent acquisition. "And it's just easier to connect on social networks than it used to be." The company recently released a mobile app so employees can make recommendations from their mobile phones.
In particular, LinkedIn has altered the hiring landscape, making it easy for recruiting departments to trace connections between job candidates and their own employees by using LinkedIn's database and software.
LinkedIn has also eaten into the bottom line of Monster.com and other online job sites as well as that of traditional recruiters, said Craig A. Huber, an experienced stock analyst at Huber Research Partners who covers LinkedIn and Monster.com.
Even as the rise of social media changes the landscape for job seekers, the depth of the last recession has eroded labor networks in both the white- and blue-collar worlds, said Judith K. Hellerstein, a professor of economics at the University of Maryland. Skills decline, she said, and friends become reluctant to recommend people who have been out of work for months or years.
"We're in a period of historic displacement in the labor market," Ms. Hellerstein said. "The long-term unemployed are a huge problem that we haven't figured out. All this human capital is being wasted and their skills are atrophying."
Referral programs carry important benefits for big companies. Besides avoiding hefty payouts to recruiters, referred employees are 15 percent less likely to quit, according to Giorgio Topa, one of the authors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York study.
Human resource departments have recognized the same pattern. "Our analysis shows referred hires perform better, stay longer and are quicker to integrate into our teams," said Mr. Nash of Ernst & Young.
As a result, within the last two years, firms like Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and Booz Allen have created dedicated teams within their human resource departments to shepherd prospects through the system. Over all, Deloitte receives more than 400,000 résumés a year, but recommended employees are guided along by a 12-person team.
"We had people that felt referrals weren't being attended to or referrals weren't being contacted," said Maribeth Bailey, national director of talent acquisition at Deloitte. "We simplified the process by removing a lot of red tape." Deloitte now gets 49 percent of its experienced hires from referrals, up from 43 percent two years ago.
Ms. Swan of Manpower cautions that although employee referrals are a valuable tool, "you have to watch the ultimate long-term result in terms of diversity and skills." Otherwise, she warned, "you're going to get people like you have."
People tend to recommend people much like themselves, economists say, a phenomenon known as assortative matching. Mr. Topa's study for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that 63.5 percent of employees recommended candidates of the same sex, while 71.5 percent favored the same race or ethnicity.
As a result, some companies are trying to make sure the proportion of employees who are recommended doesn't get too high even as they expand their referral programs.
At Enterprise Rent-A-Car, the proportion of workers hired through employee referrals has risen from 33 percent to just under 40 percent in the last two years, but the company wants to make sure it doesn't pass the 50 percent mark, said Marie Artim, vice president for talent acquisition at Enterprise Holdings.
"I think if you begin to creep up to 50 percent or higher, you start to worry about people not getting the opportunity to talk to us," she said. "That's why we look for a balance."
November 20th, 2009 at 9:19 pm wow, thanks for this, i was just wondering how to put together a resume while here and this is really helpful
November 21st, 2009 at 7:37 am It wasn’t long ago (2003) that people were still handwriting these things.
November 21st, 2009 at 7:47 am I think they still are. I saw some handwritten ones when I was job hunting last year.
November 22nd, 2009 at 7:56 pm Hi Daniel, this post is right on time, as my CIR-ing days are coming to a close and I am trying to get a handle on job-hunting strategies in Japan! When you were applying for jobs, did you submit a 職務経歴書 along with your resume? Is it something that you should always turn in just in case, or only when the employer asks for it?
November 22nd, 2009 at 11:35 pm Hmm…I didn’t submit a separate 職務経歴書, but I did include all of my relevant jobs and experience on the regular Japanese resume I made. I was never asked for anything in addition to what I submitted.
November 22nd, 2009 at 11:38 pm From facebook friend Geraldine: Do you know you can download very good Word and Excel templates from the microsoft Japanese URL? Once printed, they look exactly like the one you buy.
The thing that upsets me the most is the Education section. One line for the year you entered high school, one more for the year you finished high school. Seriously, who cares which high school you’ve graduated from? It’s a waste of those precious lines!
Even though the education of a Japanese applicant usually consists of four lines (two for high school, two for uni), the resume allows enough lines for a PHD. But you’ll run out of space if you have more than one degree at each level…
The same is true for the Employment section : one line per experience, and you don’t have many lines since in Japan, people who change employers too often are still considered to have some kind of a problem. You are not supposed to write how great you were in each position, which I suppose is good if you actually weren’t. You’ll just look as good as people who were (good).
Really hard to sell yourself with a Japanese resume…
And Wake: I haven’t had to write a Japanese resume, but we recently had to include a family picture on our daughter’s kindergarten application. Also, my brother-in-law applied to a wife-finding service and had to include *my* education and job history.
To which I responded:
Whoa, Wake. That’s intense on both accounts. Has he found a wife yet?
And Geraldine, do you have the links to the templates? I’d love to share those. Oh, and by the way, you clearly have too many degrees. ;o) I think the back is definitely where you BS about your specific skills/experience.
And Geraldine responded: Sure! You’ll find all many microsoft templates here (Japanese only):
The classical one being http://office.microsoft.com/ja-jp/templates/TC010592951041.aspx?CategoryID=CT101448941041 (Excel) or http://office.microsoft.com/ja-jp/templates/TC010570881041.aspx?CategoryID=CT101448941041(Word)
November 25th, 2009 at 8:28 pm Facebook friend Rocco says: mmmm… I suggest writing both a 履歴書 as well as a職務経歴書 if you are applying for a job. 職務経歴書 is more forgiving with space and gives one ample opportunity to plug education and work history.
And Kaida says: When I applied for current/ past employers (all 外資系 – western companies’ subsidiaries in Japan) , I didn’t hand in Japanese style resume. I submit western style one and it’s direct translation in English.
Japanese style resume is widely used for old-stylish companies with lifetime employment because they need a person who can work for a company for a long time. What HR looks for are motivation, good education history, and potential. That’s why “self public relation” is important – not job achievement.
Japanese traditional style resume is not used widely anymore at blue chips. Panasonic only takes western style resume (they have their own style format, you can fill them in Japanese) and Sony requires you to type them online (Japanese resume could be used only for first screening)
And I replied:
Rocco: Hey cool, someone asked me about 職務経歴書 on the website comments, so I’ll post up your suggestion.
Kaida: Thanks for the great info! Very detailed and useful. I never did too much serious 就職活動, so I only had the chance to give out a couple of my resumes. I found that the Japanese formatted resume was a nice ice-breaker at job fairs and stuff, especially if you can talk to someone important. I only applied to one company and had to fill out all the information on computer anyway, but I think even just having a formal-looking resume was a plus.