Rules—people don’t usually gravitate towards the rules of engagement. Generally we prefer a shortcut. Sometimes, especially when I’m working with technology, I’ll try my own potential solutions to see if I can “make it work”…sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, I resign myself to understanding the rules to help me reach my goal.

In the hiring world, jobseekers don’t have the luxury of making their own rules. To do so is to delay success. Like it or not, we play by the rules set by those that have control over the outcome.

But that doesn’t mean we are helpless.

If we take the time to clearly understand the rules, and if we can leverage them to benefit both parties, then we can find a job that fits and at least for the moment, contribute to our job security.

Quick (and very important) lesson-learned on hiring practices:
Prior to the Great Recession hiring professionals spent time getting to know the people they were going to hire. This may still happen but we are certainly going about it differently.

Jungle rules

Technological advancements have necessitated internal changes. These changes will continue as the technology gets better and adapts to the business landscape. Further, these changes have been integrated at what seems like light speed and there is no turning back. The implications to the hiring process are considerable to everyone who wants to successfully manage their future.

Top hiring game changers:

  1. Internet access—available to the individual user—has expanded commerce to encompass the global community. The marketplace is now the world. Since employment is dependent on the selling of goods and services, and since the marketplace is unlimited by time zones, geographic boundaries, or language barriers—managing diversity and cross-cultural integration has become a critical skill set.
  2. Office connectivity through cloud computing, webcams, instant messaging— enables employees to work anywhere at anytime and develop effective business relationships with colleagues, executives, vendors, clients and customers.
  3. Social media brings individual interconnectivity and information almost in real time. The concepts of “crowd-think” have expanded our frame of reference. We are replacing our trusted personal referral network with crowd-sourcing, crowd-funding, all flavors of crowd-think.
  4. Big Data brings analytics-based information on an immense scale to lead and guide critical decisions. Whether we need a Customer Service Rep or we are managing risk, we have access to data with greater dimension and meaning.
  5. With the availability of vast amounts of data and its role in employee selection, many companies are choosing to outsource their human resource organization in favor of recruiters and hiring agencies.

Noteworthy trends in hiring processes:
These game changers have brought about trends in the hiring process. I’m not suggesting that every job opening follows these trends, but my observation is that these changes are happening in mid-sized and large corporations and I believe they may quickly become the status quo.

digital space

  1. Hiring professionals are making initial decisions through technology. It’s what we know about a candidate rather than actually meeting the person.
  2. Mid-process hiring decisions—prior to connecting with a finalist—are based on easily available information, such as LinkedIn, Internet searches, education, etc.
  3. Personal connection with candidates comes only in the final stages of selection after they have been filtered by Applicant Tracking Systems, examined through Internet searches, vetted by psychological testing programs, and possibly a five-minute phone call by an assistant to ensure basic qualifications.
  4. Recruiters and hiring professionals know less and less about the culture and operations of a company. Often, they do not have a relationship with the hiring manager. Frequently, to their frustration, they are working from a list of inadequate qualifications that change throughout the interview process. Their primary charge may lean more towards pre-selection. Discernment as to whether the applicant can do the job is based primarily on the candidate’s past work experience rather than from personal industry knowledge.
  5. Networking, although helpful, is becoming less relevant for positions from entry through many mid-level jobs. Strategic executive positions are more likely to find positions through networking and by being found by executive recruitment firms.

Significant adjustments for jobseekers:
The workforce in the United States is now at a point where the average time in a position is three to four years. So even if you are currently working, your next job search is just around the corner. It might be in your current company, but business models have to remain and practice flexibility to keep up with change. So these tips are critical to landing your next position whether you are currently employed or looking to land your next opportunity.

  1. Computer skills are more than relevant; they are a showstopper if they aren’t up to date. If you’ve been unemployed for more than three months, then having recent training in basic software can separate your application. These courses can be found online, through libraries, and state employment offices.
  2. Staying current in your industry is not enough. Regardless of your employment status, companies are changing at a rapid pace. New technologies are key drivers for many companies and industries. It is essential for your job security to watch industry trends and evaluate the impact of new technologies.
  3. Growing your online business presence will become more and more relevant as hiring practices change. We are quickly coming to the day when résumés will not be used. LinkedIn can be key. It encourages connectivity through industry groups. Other online activities, such as industry chat rooms, will likely make a significant difference in your job search.

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  5. Build relationships with recruiters in your industry, even if you are employed. Maintain these relationships with quarterly touch-points to lay the groundwork for your next opportunity.
  6. Maintain a professional network of at least 150 connections. Include former colleagues, executives, vendors, clients, and the like. Remember that the primary activity of networking is finding ways to build trust. Learning and growing through industry connections can shorten a job search.
  7. The workplace has become highly diverse. Discomfort in cross-cultural situations generally stems from unfamiliarity. Reading about cultures that you are likely to interact with can ease your discomfort. Learning their customs and conversation points can make the workplace more comfortable for everyone.
  8. If you are a current jobseeker and you are not getting through the online filters, then find a career coach who understands them. They aren’t rocket science. We currently get through these systems to a human being between 75 to 80% of the time.
  9. Remaining “work-ready” is central. This addresses attitude, professional demeanor and presentation in all communications, up-to-date skill sets, and industry knowledge.
  10. Cover letters and résumés have become increasingly sophisticated as hiring professionals find ways to select finalists from large groups of jobseekers. The more polish you can display through your paperwork, the shorter your job search will be.
  11. The same principles regarding polish apply to interviewing. Stay in the best possible physical shape. Everything about you will impact your career opportunities from your personal grooming to your language skills.

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New rules, higher stakes, be ready:

Dice rolling on blue background

The changes outlined in this article are the backbone of the new rules for everyone who wants to be employed. We are at the edge of new beginnings where job security is concerned and there’s no turning back. Every person who needs an income, whether they are unemployed or currently working, has a lot to lose. With so much at stake, this is something to take seriously beginning today.

I’m going to continue to write about these topics so check back often and sign up for the newsletter. All comments are welcome so please send me your thoughts. Together, we can track the changes, find solutions and successfully ensure our future.

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