Plug your CV into the digital era
Graeme Anthony's video CV received 300,000 hits and was internationally lauded as an example of innovative use of social media.
Imagine having your pick of 50 jobs offers in a week, as multinational corporations vie for your services and wealthy investors offer to fund your own start-up.
It happened to British PR man Graeme Anthony after the Curriculum Vitae interactive video he posted on YouTube two years ago went viral.
Anthony's CVIV received 300,000 hits in recession-racked London, brought the marketing and PR world banging at his door and was internationally lauded as an example of innovative use of social media.
But not everyone has a two-minute video in them, and if your resume hasn't seen daylight this decade, chances are it's a two-page Word document that begins with your vital stats and ends with a couple of former bosses prepared to give you a good rap.
But to stand a chance in today's tight job market, do you need to go to the same digitally enhanced lengths as Anthony to find one?
Can three sheets of A4 still cut the mustard when the bright young things you're up against are starring in their own clips, listing their above and below-the-line achievements in infographic resumes and receiving glowing strings of references on LinkedIn?
According to Anthony, the answer depends on which industry you're in, or trying to be in.
'The CVIV was essentially a publicity stunt for myself and it worked because that's my line of business,” he said.
“I very much doubt that this tactic would resonate within the corporate industry, who are a very regimented sector. They have strict protocols and procedures in place and I don't think the CVIV fits within that culture.”
That doesn't mean the social media revolution hasn't shaken things up for job seekers in the traditional professions in other ways though.
While their on-camera skills may not be called into play, white collars eschew social media at their peril if they're looking for a new post, said Kym Quick, CEO of Clarius Group, one of the country's largest recruitment groups.
Traditional resumes listing skills and experience are still a key part of the job seeking process but the way they're communicated and presented has changed.
Quick says LinkedIn has become the first port of call for recruiters shortlisting a position. It's also the perfect tool to let headhunters know who you are if you're only passively searching.
The business networking site lists CV-style profiles for 161 million professionals worldwide, including three million Australians.
“I was recently recruiting for an internal position and I checked all the candidates' profiles on LinkedIn,” Quick said. “I wouldn't have not interviewed someone who wasn't up there – but it does help give a sense of who they are.”
But candidates who are dispensing with cover letters altogether in favour of sending a page with a link to their LinkedIn profile are making a big mistake, she said, especially those seeking senior positions.
Some online employment sites such as Seek.com.au are also allowing job seekers to create a permanent profile on the site detailing their experience, career aspirations and contact details. Profiles can only be accessed by employers and recruiters advertising relevant positions in a matchmaking type venture that circumvents the need for an old style resume and has resulted in 150,000 placements since its launch in late 2010.
“It keeps working even when the jobseeker is not actively on the website looking for a job,” Seek marketing director Helen Souness said.
“There is definitely place for both [online and paper based resumes] but the trend is increasingly towards online. Furthermore electronic resumes can be easily shared amongst contacts and increase the chances of the jobseeker's resume falling into the hands of the right employer.”
Career coach Sally-Anne Blanshard says most of the power of an online profile is in the references – and a good set can give you an edge over someone who doesn't have any.
LinkedIn allows users to ask colleagues and associates to endorse them, with some well curated profiles boasting more than a dozen testimonials. Given that references need to be approved by the subject in question before being publicly posted to their profile, fulsome praise, rather than warts-and-all summation, tends to be the order of the day. Nevertheless they help tell a story, in a way that a name and phone number on a piece of paper just can't, and give potential employers another reason to keep you in the running.
“It allows you to say, 'here's what my boss thinks of me', versus the competitor with no references,” Blanshard said. “You can tell more of a story on LinkedIn.”
A decent professional photograph doesn't hurt either – along with a snappy headline that brands you and your services.
“It allows an employer to get a feel for who a person is,” career consultant Katie Roberts said.
“Some people don't put a photo up and it's to their detriment. If you have a 100 per cent complete profile with a photo you will be higher in the rankings and come to the top of searches more often.”
But while going all-out electronic may be inevitable if you're to keep up with the rest of the job-hunting pack, taking a more retro approach might also help you stand out from a cyber-sea of smiling, well-credentialed competitors.
This involves sending an employer your resume in an envelope with a stamp on – and can be an effective way of ensuring your application floats to the top of the tidal wave of 150 electronic responses the average job ad attracts.
“Good old fashioned tools – the phone call, the letter and the CV in the mail – can still be the best,” Quick said.
“It may be the first letter they've had in years.”
Do and don'ts for job hunters:
1. If you're going to create a LinkedIn profile, do it properly or not at all, Quick advises. Put in as much detail as possible about the roles and experience you've had. “A fuller profile means people will seek you out, not just people who already are in your circle and know you.”
2. Dead links are a dead end – and not a good look if you're trying to impress a prospective employer. Check the ones you've included in your cover letter, electronic resume and online profiles are still current before uploading them or pressing the send button.
3. Be discreet. Don't risk the job you already have by advertising to all and sundry on LinkedIn that you're looking for another one.
4. Keep it professional. Business networking sites aren't the place to alert the world to the fact that you love cats or have a personal blog about your macramé addiction.