A jobseeker I spoke with last week told me he needed “a stack of printed resumes” he could distribute to local employers. Normally, I collaborate with jobseekers to generate electronic resumes. Nonetheless, I told him I could print his resume after we prepare it.
While we know “the customer is always right,” I explained that job search today is largely digital. He will be at a disadvantage, I explained, when he does not distribute resumes electronically.
The jobseeker told me he does not have access to a computer and only has internet connectivity via his phone. In other words, he does not have the basic prerequisites, in my view, for a modern and effective job search.
A few prerequisites for a 21st Century job search include a:
- Word processing software,
- World Wide Web access, and
- Cellphone number with reliable service.
Most readers probably find the items on this list very basic. But I am finding that at least a few jobseekers—perhaps those that have worked in the same job for a long time—have not “gotten the memo” about modern job search. And I’ve found that even industries that are unrelated to technology use digital tools for recruiting.
So, if you or a jobseeker you know has not “gotten with the program,” here are some places to start.
Get a computer.
A great investment for your job search is to acquire a laptop or desktop computer. Many businesses use Windows-compatible systems, so you will avoid compatibility issues with a Windows-based computer.
You do not need the fastest computer with the most memory and largest disk drive for a job search because you will be handling small documents—one or two pages of text—email, and filling out online forms to apply for work. Even Zoom works reasonably well on my nine-year-old desktop computer.
Make certain that the machine you purchase has a camera and microphone because you will need these accessories for Zoom interviews and networking conversations. Purchase these items separately if you choose to buy a desktop machine that does not have a built-in camera and microphone.
Although you can do online interviews and meetings from a smartphone, you will make a better impression and have more flexibility when you work from a computer.
Acquire word processing software.
Word processing software is an excellent investment, too. MS-word is still the most common business word processing application but it is expensive so you may want to choose another program. Make certain, though, that any free or low-cost word processing option you select converts your documents to MS-word format.
Also, be sure you can convert documents to Adobe Acrobat, or PDF, format. Fortunately, there are free or low-cost options so you do not need to purchase Adobe Acrobat.
You will find that online job applications normally work with MS-word and PDF files so it is essential to supply documents in one or both of these formats. Your prospective employer probably will not take a paper resume before the in-person interview.
Email is also essential.
Any computer or smartphone with internet access and either an email app or Web browser will allow you to send and receive email. But take the time to select an appropriate email address for your job search. Create a personal email address using some version of your name instead of a clever “handle” or screen name.
A Gmail account is, in our opinion, the best option for getting a job search email address. Some employers may block email from Yahoo!, AOL, and others for a variety of reasons. Gmail seems to get through reliably.
Avoid using a “work” email address even if you are permitted to do so. For example, I own the ResumesThatShine.com domain, so I could place Frank@ResumesThatShine.com on a resume. A prospective employer may not know that the domain belongs to me. As a result, I would use email@example.com on a job search resume.
You need World Wide Web access.
You probably have reliable Web and Internet access if you are reading this blog. If you rely on public Wi-Fi or internet at your school or job, invest in internet access at home when you can afford it.
Reliable home internet access will do more than speed your job search. Remote work opportunities require secure, reliable, and fast internet access. It’s the remote work equivalent to having trustworthy transportation for a traditional job at an office or plant location.
Get a reliable smartphone and cell service.
While we do not consider a smartphone to be a substitute for a laptop or desktop computer, it is still important. You need to have a phone number where employers can reach you, or at least leave a voicemail message you can promptly return.
Smartphones can also serve as a valuable back-up for your computer. The device will ensure that you can receive and send job search related email, and even attend Zoom interviews when your main computer or internet connection fails. Technology inevitably fails at the least opportune times, so be prepared!
The process of matching jobseekers with job opportunities has undergone a digital transformation in the last 25 years. Employers typically receive six times as many applications for jobs now than they received in 1994. The only practical way to process this volume is with automated systems, often referred to as applicant tracking systems, or ATS. That means you, the jobseeker, has to complete an application form online, and then upload a resume and link to your LinkedIn profile.
About two years ago, a client printed out the resume we developed together and walked around Manhattan in an attempt to distribute it at temp agencies. He informed me afterward that no agency would accept his printed resume. Everyone told him to go home and apply online.
Several months ago, I was asked to help a construction industry pre-apprenticeship program prepare its students for their job search. Program leadership provided students with laptops and internet access because they anticipated their graduates would need to provide resumes electronically, not on paper, to foremen and other hiring managers.
Of course, anecdotal evidence does not prove you cannot land a job by printing out resumes and distributing them by hand. It does suggest that you will enhance your chances for success with a digital job search strategy. An “old school” approach to job search using paper documents and shoe-leather is an example of “analog resistance” to the digital revolution. Collect vinyl records if you want to be part of the analog resistance. Do a digital job search.