Getting Hired in 2011

Taylor Korsak

Editor's note: Whether you're on the job hunt or on the staffing side of HR, this is what you need to know about how the recruiting process is changing.

Whether you are just entering the job market or you haven’t been in it for some time – preemptive action is key.

For instance you cannot, as a recent graduate, wake up from a summer-long party funk in early September and at your parents’ behest start applying to jobs using a resume you created during a freshmen year career development course.

And by the same token you cannot, as a professional re-entering the job market, send out the same resume as you did 10 years ago.

Understatement of the century: things have changed.

Not long ago there were few basic ways to represent oneself to a hiring company:

  1. The resume
  2. The interview
  3. The references

Now there are frighteningly effective search engines like Google which will bring up just about anything you’ve posted or submitted online. This includes the other way you’re now represented: any social media websites you’ve signed up for.

That’s right. Basically, in addition to reviewing your resume, cover-letter and references, interviewers will be typing your name into several different search bars.

The interesting thing is that hiring professionals might actually be put off if you don’t participate in any social media outlets. They’re innovative methods of communication utilized by brands, CEOs of companies, politicians and news media. Plus, it’s all about communication, right?

So, before you go on the hunt, you’re going to want to update a couple of things, including but not limited to: the resume, the social media status and the references.

The Resume

While the resume itself remains as effective a representative tool as it was 10 years ago, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports there have been a number of modifications. Firstly, your resume does not start and stop in a single Microsoft Word document - prospective employers are looking for an online and offline package.

When submitting your resume through an application or email, it’s best to include both a link and a Word document or .pdf attachment, according to Mary Henige, General Motors' director of social media and digital communications in a statement to the WSJ. The job market is at a transition stage when it comes to application submissions so it’s a smart move to anticipate a receiving error.

As for hardcopy – bring five. According to professional resume writer, Erin Kennedy, five copies of your resume in hand will smooth over interviews with multiple managers.

"…it is always important to have enough resumes to go around," she writes in her article.

. The "one page rule" no longer exists.

Howard Seidel, a partner at Essex Partners, a Boston-based senior level career management firm explained to the WSJ, "While one page makes sense when you have little experience, it doesn't make sense when, as a senior executive, you have 10, 20 or more years of experience."

So go ahead and include all your hard-earned titles and your successful projects, but make sure to give the first page "enough punch to entice the reader to delve further," Seidel added.

LinkedIn conducted a research initiative on the most used resume terms and came up with a clichê-ridden top ten. Please avoid the following descriptions of yourself as: innovative, motivated, results-oriented, proven-track record, problem-solver, or entrepreneurial, as these terms made the unfortunate cut.

Instead, as spokesperson for LinkedIn Krista Canfield explained, specify projects you’ve developed or supported and any positive results directly attributed to your involvement.

And lastly, an aesthetically pleasing resume will go a long way. Think symmetry, proper spacing, and font – 10 or 12 point Times New Roman is readable and attractive.

The Social Media Status

Depending on your area of job interest or established professional field, having a LinkedIn profile may be enough.

"In today's executive search market, if you're not on LinkedIn, you don't exist," said Wendy Enelow, author of "Expert Resumes for Managers and Executives" and "Best Resumes for $100,000+ Jobs" to the WSJ. She added it’s important to include a live link to your LinkedIn profile as well as to your email address on your Word document resume.

So, graduates, make sure you have a LinkedIn account as the outlet is a great source for jobs, industry news, and obviously, professional networking.

As for social networking site Facebook – please double check privacy settings/content on your profile before stepping foot into the job search. If there are pictures of you doing keg stands at an 80s themed party (even though you were probably born at the tail-end of that decade…faker) just get rid of them. Firstly, the privacy settings on Facebook are confusing and secondly, it makes you look like a person doing a keg stand at an 80s themed party.

And as for Twitter, if Steve Jobs is tweeting, you can, too.

The References

You’re always going to need updated references when entering an interview process and Erin Kennedy suggests bringing three to five of them specifying how and how well they know you.

For grads, reach out to a professor, preferably one whose class you didn’t sleep through, as many will be happy to be your advocate.

For everyone else, professors are always a good resource. But as you climb the ladder toward an executive role, you’re going to want to include a reference who has been your superior and could speak to your performance on specific projects, your productivity and your professional presence.

Kennedy also recommends including personal references as "more and more companies are turning to personal references to round out the interview process."

So, maybe not "mom" but possibly "BFF".

Overall, being well prepared and up-to-date with current hiring practices is essential and a step in the right direction. Competition is thick in our contemporary job market, so being on the cutting edge is going to help the graduate and the returning job hunter snag a coveted job in 2011.