A Refresher: Job-Search Technology

How 21st century technology plays into a job search.


Do you remember thermal fax machines? If you do, then pause for a moment and consider how far we’ve come in terms of technology and the flow of information. Resumes are uploaded and downloaded; companies direct applicants to their corporate Web sites, and HR departments set up auto-responders to reply back to candidates.

As the president of a career-branding firm, I’ve seen the economy push many of our clients to search actively for a job for the first time in many years. The job-search methods of a few years ago are obsolete, and new job-search technology now dictates a fresh approach. Let’s go over some of these modern job-search technology terms and make sure you have a clear grasp of what they are and why they are important to your job search.

Hits versus views

Recruiters search resumes and resume databases for the same keywords they insert into job descriptions. For example, if a recruiter is searching for a Director of IT, he might be using the search terms “Director of IT,” “project management” or “enterprise infrastructure.” If your resume has those terms in it, you will receive “hits” on your resume in the same way a search engine like Google returns “hits” when it is searched.

Resumes that contain more of the specific terms will be ranked higher in the results, just like in a commercial search engine. If the recruiter actually clicks on or opens the resume, then the “hit” converts to a “view.” Some job boards, like Ladders, will allow you to see how many hits and opens you receive. If you are receiving hits but not views, the keyword content of your resume should be evaluated. You may not have enough keywords, the right ones or the right combinations to make sure your resume is high in the rankings.

Virtual networking

Many people are just discovering the benefits of online, virtual networking. Just like traditional networking, online networking leverages the value of who you know. You connect with the people you know and then, through them, connect to people they know. While Twitter, MySpace and Facebook are best known for their general audiences, LinkedIn is more well known for its professional connections.

Recruiters use networking sites extensively to source candidates. If the resume of a potential candidate crosses a recruiters’ radar, he will probably Google that person’s name to see what is on the Web and visit any social-networking sites that pop up for that person. Sites such as Melissa Data, a data-management provider, can provide specifics and many companies offer background checks to recruiters and hiring managers.

E-mail distributions

If you can remember mass mailings done via the USPS years ago, you have some idea of what an e-mail distribution is like. There are some similarities, but the method requires different tactics. No longer are resumes printed on nice, heavy paper and mailed in an envelope. Resumes are e-mailed. An e-mail distribution is more likely to go to several recruiting firms than a few specific recruiters within those firms. It is a way to get your resume into the databases of multiple recruiting firms. It is a great time-saver and can be helpful in targeting large numbers of recruiters in one action.

Personal Web sites

Many job seekers have personal Web sites that they use for job-search purposes. If the job seeker is a person whose work is very visual in nature, such as a graphic artist or a game designer, a personal Web site serves as an online portfolio. A family site (containing pictures of children, and other personal details) should not be used for job search. If you reference your Web site on your resume, make sure the content is professional in nature. Many people sink their candidacy because they have not considered that a prospective employer may not want to see their Christmas-morning photos or vacation pictures from the beach.

Among recruiters, career coaches and outplacement professionals, the increasing influence of technology and the divide it causes in the hiring process is readily acknowledged and often bemoaned by some who feel the entire process has become too impersonal.

Even if technology were not an influence, the sheer number of people looking for a job — regardless of the economy — would make job search and hiring a very impersonal process. People change jobs frequently now (even in good economies), and they search far and wide for jobs. We are in a global marketplace and the candidate pool for a job opening is no longer local — it is global and large. With today’s numbers of job candidates, a paper-based hiring process would grind to an immediate halt. Technology simply makes the entire hiring process manageable.

Technology and the influence it has on job-search methods and actions cannot be avoided. Savvy job seekers learn about it, learn how to leverage it and make it work to their advantage.

Is it good or bad? It’s neither. It is simply the reality of the march of time and progress. Those who adapt, survive.