3 Ways To Upgrade Your Virtual Job Hunting Game
At the end of 2020, 19.5 million Americans remained on unemployment and Glassdoor saw a 28.3% increase in the number of jobs available to candidates all over the world. With the rise of remote work, hiring teams can now tap into a larger pool of candidates than they previously had access to with a flood of people applying.
Simply put, the job hunt has been turned on its head.
While this creates new opportunities, it also means the hunt is fierce. On average, each corporate job offer attracts 250 resumes, and of these, only four to six will be called for an interview with only one landing the job. While these odds are statistically not in your favor, they can be, if you set yourself up properly.
The times of attending networking events and mingling with professionals are on hold, so how you build connections and gain job offers must shift. Being able to show up the right way on paper, and online matters more than ever. Here are three areas of your job hunt to focus on refining in the virtual workforce:
1. Update Your Resume
Your resume is ultimately a marketing tool used to illustrate your skill set and accomplishments. It isn’t a place to rewrite the job description of your previous roles, after all, anyone can find that online. Instead, place the emphasis on what value you’ve provided employers in the past. They are hiring you to fill a need, and your resume is the place to show them you can. Here are a few quick ways to communicate your value:
• Focus on power verbs with each job description (i.e. managed, organized, designed, optimized, orchestrated)
• Quantify your job description as much as possible (i.e. sales/revenue, percentages of change, number of employees managed, etc.)
• Rank everything from most valuable to least. For each position held, have your most impressive accomplishment first.
Instead of saying, “project design with environmental values in mind”, have a powerful bullet that says, “Designed two innovative product patents that resulted in a 20% material reduction and $500,000 annual cost savings in manufacturing costs.” This shows what you did, in action, and the impact your work had on the company.
With today’s advancing technology, human eyes aren’t the first to review your application, 98% of Fortune 500 companies use AST (Application Tracking Systems) to vet through resumes. What worked to catch the human eye won’t work the same for these automated systems. Data has found a cluttered look with little white space, poor layout, and keyword stuffing reduce your chances of making it through an ATS.
You want your resume to stand out, but you don’t want it to be so beautiful the context is overlooked. Ditch the fancy fonts, the images, and the creative templates. This will help the automation read your resume well, and help you move on to the next phase of the application process. If you are in an industry that is visual and creative, such as graphic design, offer a work portfolio separate from your resume that will showcase your aesthetic side.
Albert Einstein said, “If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Keep your resume simple. Recruiters will thank you, and that thank you may just be the job offer you’ve been hunting for.
2. Refine Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter is like a spare tire, you keep it around just in case, but don’t rely on it for a cross-country road trip. The reality is, we live in a workforce where just 20% of hiring managers read your letter, yet they still want and accept them with your application.
So why does this piece of paper still matter? What I have found is that when a hiring manager is teetering between two candidates or deciding whether to hire talent, they will turn to your cover letter. While you may think a cover letter is a more wordy way of regurgitating your resume, it is actually about illustrating how your experience will help the company or team you want to join. Above all else, they want to know what you can do for them.
For a simple cover letter, I advise clients to start with a quick intro and then highlight two to three bulleted achievements from their recent experience and share what the results were. For instance, “I managed marketing accounts for three Fortune 500 companies and increased their account value by over 30%.” This format showcases what you do, and why it matters to them.
This doesn’t require you to write a novel, in fact, it is best to keep your cover letter to one page, and avoid sharing anything that may be uncomfortable. While you may be tempted to share a story about your recent job gap or layoff, this sends a red flag. Keep it positively minded and focus on looking forward.
3. Stand Out Virtually on Screen
I recently worked with a client that was struggling to get past the initial interview. When I asked her to show me her setup, she walked into the garage and opened a folded chair. Her problem wasn’t her work experience, it was how she came across virtually. Although she originally chose this place because it was where she had the least chance of being interrupted by her roommates, it wasn’t giving off the professional and intentional appearance she truly embodied.
As much as we hate to admit it, appearances matter. A study in Social Psychological and Personality Science found that people determine likability, status and trustworthiness within 33 to 100 milliseconds of meeting them. If you want to start off on the right foot, you need to show up ready to impress.
Create a professional space, and no that doesn’t mean preset backgrounds that give the illusion you are in a mansion home. Avoid anything that will be a distraction for the interviewer, if possible set up in a quiet office or desk area. You may need to temporarily move furniture or background designs. After all, that cute collection of pictures from college parties isn’t exactly screaming, “hire me.”
No matter how great you look, or where you are set up, none of this matters unless your internet connection is solid. While we live in a virtual age, having top-notch internet isn’t always the easiest thing to lock in place. The average home has 11 devices hooked up to the wifi, which can stress the bandwidth of your internet speed. Before your interviews, disconnect any devices from wifi and close out all windows or programs aside from the interview. And if you have a slew of interviews lined up, call your provider and see what the cost would be to up your internet speed for a month. Sound like overkill? It isn’t. Studies have found that a 1.2-second delay on video can negatively impact someone’s impression of you. That bump in internet speed could be what lands you a well-paying job in the future.
Don’t think that your years of Facetiming friends have you set up for virtual interview success, practice just as you would an in-person interview. Ask a mentor, friend, or close professional to run a mock interview virtually with you to provide feedback not only on your communication but also on your setup.
This may all feel tedious and foreign, but if you want to land a job in a competitive market, you have to be willing to adjust on the fly and expect the tedium. You’ve got this!
More and more employers are open to hiring remote employees, which opens up the job market for employers and job hunters alike. To stand out, brush up your resume, refine your cover letter and practice interviewing in a virtual setting. By optimizing each of these three tasks, you’ll help set yourself up for success in a competitive job market.
All SoFi members have access to complimentary benefits like career coaching where you can get personalized guidance on your resume, networking advice, and strategies for making a career transition. SoFi’s interactive Get That Raise® tool can help you develop an action plan to illustrate your value in the market.
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