4 Strategies Job Seekers Should Prioritize in 2016

Man in Coffee Shop on Tablet Computer

By Robin Madell

It's not the same environment for job seekers that it was even a few years ago. Increasingly, those looking for work must be aware of an expanding list of dos and don'ts about everything from what not to tweet during their search to how to use social media and the latest tech tools to reach recruiters and hiring managers more effectively.

With so many more details to understand now when you're in job-search mode, it's important to know which tips to prioritize. Here is a list of the latest strategies that job seekers should not ignore if they hope to score a new career opportunity in 2016.

1. Understand your new competition. Today's candidates have an additional layer of competition in the form of "boomerang employees." These people previously worked for a company, left it, then returned to it. Almost 50 percent of organizations in one survey had previous policies against rehiring former employees, according to a survey by the Workforce Institute at Kronos and WorkplaceTrends.com. Yet more than three-quarters of those surveyed say that their policies have now changed to become more accepting of welcoming those who left back into the corporate fold.

What this means if you're looking for work this year is that you'll be competing against another talent pool of company insiders, alongside employee-referred candidates and internal candidates. What's more, the entrepreneurial Generation Z is graduating from college and entering the workforce for the first time, meaning potentially four or five generations will be working side-by-side and competing for the same jobs.

2. If you want flexibility, ask for it. Workplace flexibility is the name of the game in 2016, with the technology industry leading the trend toward offering employees wider options in how they structure their workday and where they get their work done. As much as one-quarter of the workforce already teleworks at varying levels of frequency, according to a report from GlobalWorkPlaceAnalytics.com. In response, major companies worldwide are restructuring office space around the fact that employees are so much more mobile than they were in the past, with multiple studies showing that people are away from their desks more than 50 percent of the time. The tech industry continues to lead the charge in upping the ante when it comes to creating workplaces that are more balanced, flexible and family-friendly. So if you're among the up to 90 percent of employees who are interested in having some type of flexible work arrangement, even if only part-time, this is a great year to negotiate for it.

3. Continue to craft your social media presence carefully. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn show no signs of fading as vital components of a job search in 2016. While you may have grown comfortable with the use of social media in your everyday life to keep up with events and share news with your personal and professional connections, it's crucial to remember that recruiters and hiring managers frequently check candidates' social media profiles to inform their decisions. If your tweets are negative, inane or inappropriate, you may miss out on opportunities to even land an interview, much less compete for the job. If you fail to take control of your digital identity to create a polished and professional image, you may find yourself regretting it this year and beyond.

4. Check your wrist for jobs. Up until now, few have taken wearable technology seriously as a workplace disrupter since devices, such as Fitbit and Apple Watch, mainly have been used to track fitness and productivity. But with the wearables market predicted to grow 35 percent through 2019, driven by Millennials and Gen Z, you might want to hop on the bandwagon and strap one on. By doing so, you'll have the latest device to retrieve information, improve search efficiency and help take advantage of 24/7 access to information that can aid in your job search.

Can new technology take all the work out of finding a job? No, no one has found software that can flawlessly match the perfect job with the perfect candidate yet, whether you're carrying it in your pocket or wearing it on your wrist. But when you use these new tech tools effectively, they just might help the right job find you.