Making Employers Click (Online) for You
Do you feel like your résumé gets sucked into a black hole when you post it on an online job board or submit it to a company web site?
Truthfully? It might be. But there are ways to move your résumé to the top of the search list so that it attracts web-savvy and time-crunched employers.
Online recruiting expert Maureen Crawford Hentz, manager of talent acquisition at OSRAM SYLVANIA, checks up to 16 web sites a day for the right candidates. She says there are smart steps you can take to get noticed online, but you have to be motivated, know the latest strategies, and keep your online presence fresh.
“Most millenials are computer savvy,” Crawford Hentz says. “But there’s a difference between using new media and working it.”
Give Yourself a Headline
In other words, you can post your résumé on the top three job boards and log off, or you can try to understand what recruiters are looking for and combine online strategies with offline networking to attract top-notch employers.
Most online strategies, believe it or not, are more time-intensive than technologically sophisticated.
For example, you’re asked to create a headline each time you list your résumé on one of the top job boards—a seemingly routine task that turns out to be extremely important.
“It’s a critical element in my search,” Crawford Hentz says. The headline “George Smith’s Résumé” may never cross her or any other employer’s radar. But something more specific, such as “Power Electronic Engineer Seeks Co-op,” gets her attention.
Load Up on Keywords
Keyword loading—adding additional keywords such as job titles and specific skills—is one of the most important tactics, according to Crawford Hentz. Keywords pop up organically on your resume, but most job boards will allow you to add additional ones—so take advantage.
“If your résumé language is too general, you won’t have many hits,” Crawford says. “Or, if you describe your job using only mechanical engineer language, the HR person searching online may not find you. By using a few key synonyms, you can make your résumé pop.”
Be specific when adding keywords:
- Always list titles of different positions that you may qualify for.
- List names of major companies you’ve interned with, as recruiters look for competitors’ names.
- If you’re a computer major, list names of software you use (If your experience with AutoCAD is version 2.0, be honest about it. Smaller companies with older equipment may be looking for this kind of experience.).
- If you’re a biotech major, list industry terms, techniques, or types of instrumentation (such as cell culture or running gel electrophoresis).
- Use keywords related to diversity as many employers are seeking to create a diverse work force (including clubs such as SWE, NSBE, or NBMBAA).
“If you’re only getting calls from mass-marketing companies looking for a warm body, your résumé probably isn’t specific enough,” says Bethany Cooper, associate director of career services at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). UNH was one of the first colleges to partner with Crawford and help students understand how to be found by online recruiting.
With most recruiters using Boolean searches, blogs, and networking sites to find new job candidates, you might want to get in on this game.
Find Your Niche Online
However, Cooper warns, you still need to do the hard-core research and proactive work, perhaps even more persistently now that you have additional resources at your fingertips.
“Find out who your dream companies are, go to their web sites, read their annual reports, and seek them out,” she recommends.
Networking is more important than ever in our wired world. However, with an infinite web of sites, where is your time best spent? Crawford Hentz uses Alexa rankings (www.alexa.com) to decide where to post jobs and where to find candidates. Their real-time data shows her which electronic engineer recruiting sites are getting the most traffic. She recommends using Alexa to find niche boards and professional organizations where you can look for job postings.
One of the hottest stops right now? Linked In (www.linkedin.com), a social networking site where you list your resume and qualifications and build your own network of connections with colleagues and friends.
“Linked In is the category-killer right now in business social networking sites,” Crawford Hentz says. “It can be a very powerful tool if used correctly, and we consult it for a lot of our hiring at high price points.”
If managed well, even blogs can be used as a networking tool, Crawford Hentz says. “Students can identify blogs in their field at sites like Technorati and participate in online discussions. It’s a great way to participate in a community outside of college, and possibly a way to be found.”
What Not to Do
Crawford Hentz cautions students to be professional when posting anything on any networking site, especially more casual sites like MySpace or Facebook. But her primary concerns are privacy and identity theft issues.
"Do not put your phone number on the résumé and you don’t have to give your e-mail address,” she says. Use a separate e-mail address that you can cancel if you start getting spam e-mail. Yahoo!, Hotmail, Juno, Gmail, and Netzero offer free email accounts. Never give out your Social Security number, credit card numbers, or bank account numbers.
“Job seekers have to understand that once their information is on the Internet, it’s out to the world,” says Mark Mehler, coauthor of CareerXroads, a reference guide to job and resume web sites. “Once you place your résumé on a job site, anyone can view it—and use the information.”
Another online résumé tactic Crawford Hentz warns against is “white fonting,” a method in which candidates sneak invisible keywords into a résumé using a white font so that it is detectable only to the search engines.
“To me, that’s irritating because I want to look at only the clients I’m interested in,” Crawford Hentz says. “I see no legitimate business reason to do that.” To weed out these nuisance resumes, her computer highlights white font in red.
Googled Yourself Lately?
You can learn every tip and trick, but online job boards and web sites come and go at the speed of a mouse click. That’s why Crawford Hentz advises students to constantly check in with career services at their college or university.
“I’m always working with them. That’s where you’ll find the best, latest advice to help you strategize new media,” she says.
In fact, Crawford Hentz credits a career adviser for one of her best tips: Write an intelligent book review on Amazon.com about something in your field and it will come up at the top of the list when someone googles your name.
“You need to understand search engine algorithms,” Crawford Hentz says. “Make them work for you.”
Most large companies are driving all applicants to their company’s web site to complete a candidate profile before scheduling an interview, so that they can track candidates and comply with OFCCP tracking requirements.
“This is a formality when applying for jobs today,” says Bethany Cooper, associate director of Career Services at the University of New Hampshire (UNH). “They’re not blowing you off when they send you to their online application.”
When you fill out an online application, you will most likely receive a candidate number. Write it down and use it when you contact the employer, so they can be assured that you already applied online.