Job Search Strategy: Being in Transition in the Digital Age

Apr 15, 2009

If you are looking for a job (unemployed|underemployed), you are facing a two-headed monster– challenging economic circumstances and navigating a digital landscape with all the Web 2.0 terms and language. My goal is this article is to demystify the digital landscape and provide some perspective on finding your next gig.

The digital age is a place we have never been before. Elaine Orler, describes the uniqueness of the digital age in terms of this is the first time in human history that the older citizens learn from the young (although each generation of teens think they teach adults, now they really do). The young (digital natives) are born with a mouse (the Microsoft kind) in one hand and a rattle in the other. The older (digital immigrants) listen and learn about how to use computers and how to navigate the digital age. I found that there is a third category for recruiting dinosaurs (digital boatperson).

So why is a digital boatperson writing about job search strategy in a digital age? Well for two reasons—my editor suggested the topic and secondly, I spend the greater part of the 21st century looking for work.

As an advocate for talent and social networking communities, I noticed that many of the aspects of a digital age community began when the world was analog (aka last century). Part of the baggage that I carry is the realization that professional associations have been an active part of most professions for several decades. In this digital age, the networks are virtual, broader, and use a different language—but at their center, it is still about people being loyal to a profession.

My aspiration to transition my career from third party recruiting to corporate recruiting required me to become a “serial contract recruiter” in order to gain the necessary experience to join “a Microsoft.”  Three principles sustained me during this time.

1. Always be looking

The nature of our work in recruiting and sourcing with an ebb and flow in demand teaches us to be sensitive to the transitory aspects of the recruiting profession. I learned to always be on the lookout for the next role.

2. Be Findable

The pundits have told us that we must build our personal brand. In boomer terms, I think of it of being available.

If search engines are the preferred method of finding resumes and information on new employees, then we must make ourselves findable by people looking for recruiters and sourcers. The Web 2.0 term is for being found is search engine optimization (SEO).

The goal for a job seeking recruiter|sourcer is make certain your profile is optimized so that you show up in the first page of an Internet keyword search. To find out if you are findable, try reverse engineering your name. That is, go to a leading search engine (Google, Live or Yahoo) and enter your name and push enter. Experiment with this—try putting your recruiting specialty and your city and press enter.

In my reverse engineering test, my name can up on the first page (above the fold) on the Big 3 (GoogleLiveYahoo). Not only that, you will find me on LinkedIn,JobsterDiigoRecruiting Blogs (Ning Group), and even the Source Newsletter. If I enter talent community development and Seattle, I can be found on the first page. So, I am fairly well optimized.

How do you optimize your name? Luckily, it is built into LinkedIn, Jobster and most places that you can create a public profile. On LinkedIn, when you are filling out a profile, you will notice a large field called “interests.” These are very important to fill out strategically because LinkedIn optimizes these links and are a great way to make certain you can be found. The same is true on Jobster (although you are limited to 5 keywords); Diigo, Recruiting Blogs, et al. Just fill out a lot of profiles and you will become findable.

3. Community is imperative

Community is about a two-way street. I joined organizations and became an active member in giving back to those communities. I networked with consultants and thought leaders in order to share my goals and provide any possible assistance to them.

Be an active part of the recruiting communities. Be loyal to your profession. Be available to serve and increase your community visibility. I did not find any of my jobs via a job board or an advertisement. Other than being recruited (by a headhunter) to a startup, each of my jobs was found by networking and referrals.

Finding My Next Gig

I am not certain how to coach a person on how to find a job, but I am willing to share how I would go about finding a recruiting opportunity in Seattle, WA. This hypothetical job search might illustrate some tactics|strategies that might be applicable in your situation.

Social Networking Sites

I would use 5 primary social networking sites in my job search. They are Jobster,LinkedIn, FaceBook, Recruiting Blogs, & Twitter.

  • LinkedIn: I use LinkedIn as one of the methods of marketing my qualifications and experience. If I were in a job search mode, I would clean up my profile, solicit more references from my colleagues, and make certain the “interests” section was reflecting the types of key words that firms would put into a search engine when they were looking for a recruiter or a sourcer(remember the reverse engineering above). I would set up search agents onLinkedIn that would monitor openings that I would be interested in reviewing.
  • Jobster: I use Jobster as a method of marketing my credentials to search engines (Google, Live & Yahoo). Jobster (now uses search engine optimization to help move your information up to the top of search engine pages. It is a great way to stay findable.
  • Facebook: Facebook’s remarkable growth (now 175M+ users) makes it a ‘must-use’ virtual location to be findable. More and more companies are using Facebook’s search features to find potential employees. In addition, it is a great place to network with employees of companies that are of interest to you.
  • Recruiting Blogs: I am a big fan of recruiting communities as a method of finding my next gig. In addition to providing a unique site for recruiting & sourcing job seekers, RecruitingBlogs offers an open door to the leading recruiters who might be able to provide assistance.
  • Twitter: I use Twitter as a listening device to keep tabs on what is going on in the recruiting industry. I follow interesting people and thought leaders in recruiting and sourcing. I would periodically announce my availability and interest in another opportunity.

Yahoo Groups

  • The Ruthie List: the Ruthie List is a 12-year-old community of 7,000 members that is comprised of recruiters and HR pros. This group is Atlanta based, but may have some national spill over into other regions. In addition, positions that could be served remotely could be of interest.
  • WARecruit: this is a Yahoo group that serves the State of Washington. It is comprised of recruiters and HR professionals. It is a very active community of 2400+ members that discuss recruiting & HR issues. Frequently job searches are part of the conversation.

Automate Your Search with Job Agents

On the Big 3 Search Engines (Google, Live & Yahoo) I would set up “alerts” that would run a search string of the desired job and location on a daily basis. In addition another class of search engines—vertical search engines (Indeed,SimplyHired, JuJu et al) aggregate jobs from multiple sources and allow you to set up “job alerts.”


  • ERE: A leading industry association, ERE has a great section for recruiting jobs and if you become a member (free signup), access is provided to many of thought leaders in recruiting and sourcing. The site also allows for “alerts” that will let you know if a job is posted that might be of interest.
  • NWRA (NorthWest Recruiter Association): an industry group that serves the recruiting and sourcing community. This group has social networking events and an active presence on Facebook and LinkedIn to engage the recruiting community in conversations.
  • SMA Seattle (Staffing Management Association of Seattle): SMA is an industry group that serves the recruiting community. As a part of SHRM(Society of Human Resources Management) its mission is to provide nationalconference quality, practitioner focused programs and networking opportunities.
  • HR Roundtable: An industry group compromised of High Technology HR professionals. A very strong networking group.

Experts|Third Parties|Centers of Influence

Consultants: People that are thought leaders, or in the “know.” Recruiting industry thought leaders that are in a “trusted advisor” relationship with their clients is a great source of referrals to non-advertised positions. Many positions are filled behind the scenes.

Recruiters: I seek out the recruiters that place recruiters or at least might know what is going on. For me it would be Chris Englin, John Vlastelica, Paul Freed and perhaps a staffing firm or two that might offer an interim gig.

Job Boards

The evidence suggests that job boards have taken a secondary position to search engines as the favored method of seeking jobs. That said, I still would put my resume on Dice, Monster, CareerBuilder & Dice. I still receive email invitations from a long forgotten resume (and seemingly undiscoverable by me) placed on CareerBuilder 4 years ago. If nothing else, it proves that some recruiters seeking to find recruiters still use the job boards to find talent. In addition, I would set up search agents that would advise me of any jobs in my area of interest.

Other resources

The multi-talented Jim Stroud has prepared some very interesting video curriculum and many job search techniques for the 21st century job seeker. If I were in a job search mode, I would spend a couple of hours getting some great as well as very practical direction from this “searchologist.”

The language of a job search is very simple. My favorite phrase in recruiting is “I need your help.” That coupled with “thank you” has stood the test of time in a job search. It is still appropriate in this digital age. I believe that whether we are employed or unemployed, there is a sense of ‘we are all in this together’. That sense of community seems to permeate the fabric of society.

In this day and time, “I need your help” will cause people to give you their time and offer assistance. “Thank you” is the currency of community. I wish you success and happy job hunting.

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