8 things to know if your job search skills are rusty

Here's a New Take on the Job Search
Here's a New Take on the Job Search

If you're gearing up for a job search but haven't pulled out your resume much in the last decade, brace yourself for some changes. Job searching has changed in some significant ways in the last 10 years, both in terms of what the experience is like for candidates and which strategies are effective and which have fallen out of favor.

Here are eight of the biggest changes you should be prepared for if your job hunting skills are rusty.

1. Hiring often takes longer than it used to. If you're used to companies placing an ad, interviewing candidates and making a hire all in the space of, say, a month, you might be in for a shock. Companies increasingly are taking months to hire. Some companies still move quickly, but don't be surprised if you hear back from companies months after you initially applied, or if weeks go by before you hear back after an interview.

2. You may be asked to interview more times than in the past. Many employers are adding additional steps to their hiring process – phone interviews before meeting in person, multiple interview rounds with a wider range of interviewers, including peers and managers several levels up, requests for presentations, skills assessments and other homework assignments.

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3. Nearly all applications must be submitted online now. If the last time you job hunted, you were still looking through job ads in the newspaper and mailing in your resume on thick bond paper, know that times have changed. Today the vast majority of jobs will direct you to apply online, often refusing to accept paper resumes at all. This can be more efficient (and will certainly save you on postage), but it can also mean wrestling with ornery electronic systems that aren't designed with candidates' ease in mind.

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4. You might be asked to disclose an uncomfortable amount of information to get your application reviewed. Online applications regularly require applicants to share their salary history, references and even Social Security numbers, often refusing to accept applications that don't include this information. And this is all before you've ever had a chance to talk to a human.

5. At the same time that the process has become more intense, it's also become less personal. With companies asking candidates to invest so much time and energy in longer, more involved processes, candidates are often treated surprisingly impersonally. You may interview with a company, possibly even several times, and then never hear back from them with a final decision. It's increasingly common for companies to not bother sending out rejections, or even to respond to direct requests from candidates for an update on where the hiring process stands.

6. You might be asked to do an initial screening by video. Some companies are asking candidates who make an initial cut to answer prerecorded questions by video before moving them to an interview with a live person. This can be frustrating for candidates since it means investing time in an "interview" without being able to ask their own questions or get a feel for the job or company culture.

7. Resume conventions have changed. Don't just pull out your old resume from 10 years ago, update it with your last job and assume it's good to go. Modern resumes have jettisoned the old-fashioned objective at the top of the page, the formerly ubiquitous "references available upon request" statement at the bottom and the rigid rule confining you to one page. You're still limited to one page if you're a recent graduate, but otherwise two pages are fine.

8. The old advice about following up on your job application to show persistence no longer applies. If you remember being told to call to check on your application after submitting it or to stop by a company and ask to talk to the hiring manager in person, remove those strategies from your modern job-hunting playbook. These days, busy hiring managers are annoyed by aggressive follow-up. And stopping by in person risks signaling that you're out of touch with how modern offices work.

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Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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