Your New Job Security Starts Here

A stable work future isn’t about finding a lifelong employer. It’s about being able to land the next professional opportunity—which means mastering the digital job hunt

Virginia Sole-Smith
Photograph: Andrew B. Myers

Here's a stat that will stop you in your tracks: Almost 40 percent of human resources managers believe that résumés will eventually be replaced by user profiles on social-networking sites. “When this transition happens, it’s going to be overnight,” says Christopher Bilotta, president of the executive-search firm Resource Development Company. “Soon you’ll just send a link to your website, where a hiring manager will find everything she wants to know.”

For now, you do still need a traditionally formatted PDF résumé, because many HR people are accustomed to seeing them. But you also need to pay attention to what comes up when your name is Googled—and you want to be happy with what a potential employer will see. For many people, establishing a sophisticated online presence will mean pushing well out of their comfort zone. But doing so, particularly if you’re in the job market at the moment—or preparing to be in the near future—is not optional. Here’s how to step up your digital game.

START MAKING VIDEOS
A few years ago, when someone Googled your name, all she saw was text-based results. Today search engines pull video and images, too—which means you need to add some audio-visual elements to your digital résumé to round out the presentation of yourself as a job candidate.

“If you’re the type of person who gets sweaty palms before a big meeting, video can work in your favor because it’s a chance to manage how a potential employer first sees you,” says Catharine Fennell, CEO of VideoBIO. Though you may worry about looking old, a video can put to rest an employer’s fears that you also act old or aren’t in touch with the way business is conducted today. “Filming a video shows that you’re confident, innovative and an early adopter,” Fennell says. “A great video is about making a personal connection with your audience, sharing experience and establishing credibility.”

1. Put a video bio on your website
What it is
A two-minute clip—-essentially, your elevator pitch. “This is where you introduce yourself,” says William Arruda, president of Reach Personal Branding, Inc. “It’s an opportunity to go beyond the one-dimensional résumé and give recruiters a sense of your personality and the skills that make you exceptional.” (Find an example at videobio.com/Kdixson.)

How to do it
If you’re very tech savvy and good with iMovie, you can go the DIY route. Shoot inside with a white background for a crisp, modern look and do some lighting checks to make sure you aren’t creating unflattering shadows. “Avoid natural daylight and fluorescent bulbs because they show every line,” says Fennell. “Indirect soft lightbulbs, like a lamp with a paper shade, will create the most flattering glow.” Otherwise hire a video-production company like VideoBIO, Fennell’s firm. For $299, these professionals will set you up with a videographer and offer script advice; they will also light, shoot and edit the video (videobio.com).

Whichever route you take, aim to rehearse for a minimum of 30 hours beforehand, suggests Ken Sundheim, CEO of KAS Placement, a recruitment firm in New York City. And spring for professional hair and makeup—you’ll look and feel more polished, which will improve your performance.

2. Prepare for a video interview
Gone are the days of flying across the country to meet with a prospective employer. “Companies need to cut costs while still finding great talent, so we’re seeing them turn to video,” says Arruda. You may even find that local firms are interviewing this way, since video avoids any scheduling hassle. Your video interview may be a two-way conversation via a conferencing program like Skype. Or employers may send you a list of questions and ask that you post video responses using a site like HireVue. Either way, you’ll need to do all your usual prep work—and then some.

First Published October 11, 2011

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