How to Hack the Online Job Hunt

Dec 09, 2021

By Jenny Han Simon

The job hunt used to be focused on three main things: a resume, cover letter, and interview. While these components can be absolutely important, evaluating them alone or even together will do nothing for you if you forget about the most important thing today—reach. You might have heard of this term in social media analytics, where it refers to how many people have potentially seen, interacted with, or even have gotten some impression from a social media post (e.g. likes, shares, etc.). Because of the internet, the quality of a resume, cover letter, or interview won’t matter if YOU can’t be found or contacted. Nowadays, everything must be optimized for recruiters and hiring managers to find the candidates they’re looking for as quickly, efficiently, and effortlessly as possible. 

1. Optimize your resume for the Internet

If you’re familiar with the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which refers to techniques to rank web pages higher on Google and other search engines, then you may not be surprised to find out that resume search engines work in a very similar fashion. When you’re writing your resume, consider both the human and machine audience you’ll have to cater to. There are millions of resumes on any given online resume database, and in order to filter through these resumes, recruiters and hiring managers will search for specific skills that match their needs. For instance, “accounting” will source resumes from anybody who listed that they did some sort of accounting or studied it, potentially leaving out resumes with “accountant” listed under experience. 

When you’re writing your resume, put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes. What are they looking for? What kind of skills and experience does this role require? What kind of tasks will you be doing daily? Additionally, consider how they are viewing it. If you optimize your resume to fit on one page printed by using tiny margins, font, and other techniques, there is a very good chance your resume will be hardly legible on a computer—especially if automatically reformatted by an online database. Also, to avoid your resume being awkwardly reformatted in the first place, upload it as a PDF rather than a Word document. This will usually generate a preview of your resume as it looks originally rather than taking bits and pieces of the content and filling it in where the automatic resume-filler thinks it should fit. Additionally, Word documents often have to be externally downloaded, which adds a potential barrier to your application. If you want to be contacted, you have to make yourself as accessible as possible! 

2. Put your contact information everywhere and anywhere 

This may come as a surprise, but online resume databases and job application platforms are usually not free for companies or anybody looking to hire. This means that recruiters and hiring managers have to be selective about the resumes and contact information they view because they either pay per view or pay for a limited number of views per week or month. What is often visible to recruiters is a condensed version of your resume. What recruiters and hiring managers pay for is access to your contact information, usually your phone number. If you can, add your phone number, LinkedIn, and email into the body of your resume, such as in your description or even within your first experience listed. This way, you won’t have to compete with another resume for a recruiter’s attention. In fact, the job hunt is a numbers game for both applicants and recruiters—the more opportunities, the better.

3. Be specific about what you want if you’re not applying for a particular role

A majority of the hiring process for applicants and recruiters is a waiting and guessing game. When you apply for a particular role, whoever is reviewing your resume and application knows that you have some interest in the role (subject matter, career path, company, etc.); however, if you post your resume on an online database without a brief line at the top about what you’re looking for, there is a greater chance you may not be contacted. Why? Simply because contacting every potentially qualified applicant takes time and money, and contacting candidates more likely to sit down for an initial interview or entertain a phone call based on their stated desires is a better use of both. Additionally, the most impressive candidates are often those who know what they’re looking for, what they’re willing to compromise on, and what their deal breakers are. Of course, you may be contacted with offers that seemingly have nothing to do with what you have stated you’re interested in; however, it is always better to have some options than none! 

A simple yet efficient line describing what you’re looking for when not applying for a particular role is: “Recent Business Administration graduate seeking a full-time role in finance, operations, or management at a large company. Ideal work involves client management, relationship building, leadership and growth opportunities.”

4. Make friends with a recruiter 

Even if machines and computers are a huge part of the recruitment process nowadays, there is no substitute for human communication and relationships! Adding to the saying “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” how you utilize your connections is just as important. You should actively be reaching out to recruiters via LinkedIn as this is the best way to make an impression and bypass the computer filtering that happens with online databases. Even if you speak with a recruiter and they don’t have a role for you, they probably have someone within their connection who may be able to help you out. Remember, recruiters spend a great deal of time building their network, making connections, and getting to know people. If you are polite and know what you’re looking for, there is no reason a recruiter wouldn’t put you in touch with someone who may consider you for an opportunity you’re qualified for. Recruitment thrives off of referrals and is a two-way street, so not only do recruiters like to help other recruiters, but one of the best ways to get on a recruiter’s good side is to give them referrals yourself.

Jenny Han Simon currently lives in New York City where she works as a recruiter in Finance. She was a Fulbright ETA in Mongolia (2019-2020) and a participant of the Critical Language Scholarship (2018). She graduated from the University at Buffalo in 2019 with a BA in English and Linguistics. She would be happy to talk to anybody looking for career opportunities or advice; just reach out on LinkedIn

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