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Your Go-To Guide for Job Hunting in the Digital Age

screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-12-22-17-pmThe ease of online job hunting has lulled many career seekers into believing that actually landing that great new position through a few clicks of the mouse is easy. It’s not.

But just because it’s not easy doesn’t mean that great digital skills and strategies can’t be a major asset in the hunt for the perfect opportunity.

According to the Pew Research Center, 79 percent of American job seekers have recently used online resources, such as social media, for their job search. That’s higher than the proportion that utilized close personal connections (66 percent) or professional contacts (63 percent), and more than twice the number that took advantage of print advertisements, employment agencies, job fairs, and other networking events.

Of those online job seekers, 34 percent say these online resources were the most important tool available to them. So if you’re job hunting online, you’re in great company—which is part of the problem.

According to Inc., the average job posted online receives about 250 applicants. Of those, about four to six are selected for an interview, and only one is offered the job. And to make the situation even more challenging, 82 percent of companies don’t reach out to passed candidates to inform them the position has been filled, forcing applicants to waste time in their job search by waiting needlessly by their inbox.

How can you climb out of the murky pool of online job rejection and increase your chances of getting hired? Get yourself primed and pumped for the digital job hunting landscape. Here’s how:

Screen Your Social Media

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Before you even send out your first resumé, give your social media accounts a good once over. About 90 percent of employers search prospective candidates’ social media accounts, and about 50 percent of hiring managers said they immediately screen out candidates based on what they found on their social media profiles, according to a 2015 survey by CareerBuilder. The top reasons given for rejecting candidates were inappropriate or provocative photos, badmouthing or disparaging former employers or co-workers, poor communication skills, and discriminatory comments about race, religion, and gender.

So take the time to go through your Twitter, Instagram, and, if public, Facebook accounts to make sure your posts present you as the smart, professional candidate you are. The memories of that fun party you went to last year might always be with you, but the picture of you at the end of the evening might be better off deleted.

Also, use your best judgment in accepting friend or follow requests from hiring managers, as doing so will allow them to look deeper into your background.

Google Yourself

CareerBuilder StatSelf-searches on Google or other search engines are a quick way to find out what the internet—and by extension, every hiring manager and recruiter out there—knows about you. Despite the ease of the task, only 57 percent of Americans have done a self-search online, according to the most recent data by Pew Research.

Not finding much when you search your name? You might want to consider building up your online presence in a strategic way. According to the CareerBuilder survey, 35 percent of employers are less likely to interview applicants they can’t find online. Need to build up a positive online reputation? A great way to accomplish this is by creating a personal website.

Get Your Personal Website Together

If it’s ever been a question, the answer is: Yes, you do need a personal website. Even a simple online space can create an informative snapshot of your personal brand–your skills, work history, accomplishments, and interests.

While portfolio websites have long been a must-have for writers, designers, and others in creative or visual fields, every job seeker should consider having one. Personal websites can help you get found online, impress employers, and provide one central place to showcase achievements and work. They can also help you get found by potential employers if you don’t already have a presence online.

It doesn’t have to be overly complicated to set up an online presence. Great DIY website builders, such as branded.me, about.me, WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix, are easy to set up and use.

Make sure your personal website includes these elements:

  • CareerBuilder StatIntroduction/bio
  • Work experience or resumé
  • Projects or work samples
  • Contact information

And if you have them, include:

  • Testimonials or references
  • Social media links
  • Your blog

Research Potential Employers

Every job application and interview process is a two-way street. You want to know as much as you can about which companies and organizations align with your values, goals, and preferred work culture—and which don’t. The internet is there for you. While the corporate website can tell you a good deal about what a company does and how it treats its staff, digging deeper inside career review sites, such as Indeed or Glassdoor, can give you more honest, unfiltered reviews about company culture and benefits. Even Yelp reviews can provide additional insight into how the company is viewed by the public.

By narrowing your focus, you can save energy by avoiding wasting time on companies with a less-than-stellar reputation and finding great companies that match your goals. Another effective way to do this is by making the most of the social media tool built for networking.

Maximizing LinkedIn

If you don’t have one, get yourself set up on LinkedIn right away. Since the platform was built with recruiting and networking in mind, it’s no surprise it’s the top social media tool for hiring managers, with 87 percent utilizing the site for recruitment in 2015, according to a survey by Jobvite.

Here’s how to maximize your LinkedIn experience:

  • Use a professional picture: While you don’t need to hire a professional photographer to take your headshot, be sure to use one that makes you look professional. Forget the artsy selfies or the shots of you standing on top of a mountain. Instead use a photo that shows what you actually look like and in your best light. Get more information on the perfect profile picture from LinkedIn.
  • JobVite StatComplete your profile: This sounds like a no-brainer, but a surprising number of LinkedIn users don’t complete their profiles. This is a huge missed opportunity, since recruiters are searching for appropriate candidates based on keywords gleaned from profiles.
  • Keep tabs on your target companies and organizations: With over a million company pages currently listed on LinkedIn, there are almost limitless opportunities to find positions and make connections. Make a list of target companies you might like to work for and follow them. You’ll get updates when people leave or join the company and when the company posts job listings. You’ll also have the opportunity to comment on their content and possibly build relationships with individuals in the company.

While making use of the vast resources available to you online is a smart job hunting strategy, remember that it’s not the end-all for your job search. Creating a robust network of professional contacts made through internships, jobs, and graduate school can open your path to great opportunities that you may not have found through your online channels. But with a great digital presence already established, you’ll be ready for them.

Happy job hunting!