Jan 20

Don’t Focus On Job Titles

Titles aren’t as important as skills, says a recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.

A recent CareerBuilder study of more than 2,000 companies found that half of the hiring managers limited their search by job title, but, as a result, were excluding excellent candidates who had the right mix of skills and experience in different roles.

Economic Modelling Specialists Intl. (EMSI) recently ran a study using their compatibility index to illustrate this. For example, a company that needs to fill an open business intelligence analyst position is looking for someone comfortable producing financial and market intelligence, generating reports, and researching in data repositories. This is typically a vital position and ideally will not remain open long. By excluding candidates without business intelligence analyst listed as a past title, they rule out many individuals who have the relevant skills and experience required of the job.

But EMSI’s index shows the company may be overlooking several nearly perfect candidates who recently held positions as market research analysts or risk management specialists and possess many of the essential skills required for the position. This extends to a wide range of professions. A tech company hiring a technical writer could also consider paralegals. A healthcare organization in need of a medical assistant could also look at pharmacy technicians. A manufacturing firm in need of a machinist could also consider an automotive body repairer.

How does this affect your job search? Essentially, you should target your resume to the position for which you’re applying. The emphasis should be on your particular skills which are relevant to the position, even if your previous job titles don’t match. Obviously, if a hiring manager is among the 50% who limit candidates based on job titles, you may have a more difficult time getting through the initial screening. However, you could tailor your cover letter and highlight your skills and experience that make you a perfect fit for the position.

Additionally, think outside the box when choosing which jobs might be right for you. If you compare your skills to other job titles, you might find that you are perfectly qualified for a completely different role than you’ve previously held. This will expand your search pool and potentially open up other job possibilities. A career coach can help you with this if necessary.

Are You Still Searching for Jobs The “Old” Way?

If you’re still combing through newspapers for jobs, you’re doing it wrong. The hunt for jobs has changed dramatically in the last decade. If you don’t change your methods, you run the risk of seeming “out-of-date,” which is code for “too old for this job.”

It’s no longer enough to simply submit a resume, sit back and wait for the phone to ring. It’s important to demonstrate your comfort level with technology, your familiarity with social media, and your positive online presence.

One of the first places you should start should be LinkedIn. It’s essential for a professional to have a LinkedIn profile these days. You should fill it out completely, and network with as many contacts as possible. Get endorsements from colleagues who can vouch for your experience and abilities. Link your profile to your Twitter account, personal website, blog, etc. Expand your online presence so that a potential employer can search online and get to know you as more than a list of skills and experience.

Next, network. Let your network know you’re looking for a job. Studies show that employers hire candidates with an employee referral at a rate of 5 to 1. One advantage for older workers is that they have had a chance to make many more professional connections over the years. Use those connections. Follow professionals in your field on Twitter, and interact with them. A good way for an employer to learn that you are who you say you are is for them to review your Twitter account or other social media. The more relevant your tweets are to your area of expertise, the more credibility you will have.

Use online web searches strategically. Target your searches to specific jobs in your desired area with keywords to narrow down your choices. If you merely specify a location or a general field of work, you may receive tens of thousands of results. Don’t waste your time; let the computer search narrow it for you.

Be aware that many job postings may look like they are advertised for a specific company, when, in reality, they are advertised by a recruitment firm. Often, the recruitment firm doesn’t even have anything to do with the company, and/or there isn’t any real job available; they are merely trying to gain your business. When applying, a quick phone call after searching the internet for the company information can verify that the person receiving your resume is actually tasked with hiring for that position.

You should have both paper copies and digital copies of your resume available. If an employer asks for your resume to be delivered digitally, provide it that way. Very often, applicants are encouraged to submit their resume online through either a standardized web form or via email. Large employers may use scanning software to quickly look for keywords in your resume that match their needs.

Use the web to research the employer. If you’re granted an interview, do your homework and understand as much as possible about the employer before the interview.

The internet is a valuable tool for today’s job search, and it is imperative that you make yourself familiar with newer ways of searching and hiring in order to land the job you want.