With a tight labor market, companies seeking ever-specialized help, the rise of the Gig Economy, and countless technology advances, there’s a lot that’s changing about how you will need to conduct a job search in the coming year. Here’s our take on the job search trends you need to know about.

Seeking insight into what’s coming down the pike for job seekers, we’ve been talking to a lot of job seekers, recruiters, hiring managers, and my fellow career experts about what to expect.

As a helpful framework, we’ve uncovered this: where general marketing goes, recruiting follows. After all, recruiters need to advertise jobs, reach job seekers, inspire interest, explore a fit between candidate and company, and close the deal – all of which are essentially marketing and sales functions. It’s the same on the candidate side; after all, you’re selling yourself to a customer who has lots of other options.

Through that lens, what’s in store for job seekers?

> Social Media

Within the social media landscape, LinkedIn continues to be the dominant connection platform for both companies and candidates in many sectors (87% of recruiters use LinkedIn, while 55% use Facebook.)

LinkedIn has an unparalleled ability to reach both active and passive job seekers, making it an imperative for a job search in most industries (although some have been slow to adopt it.) That said, LinkedIn has made some changes recently that, from a recruiter’s perspective, make it harder and more expensive for recruiters to use the platform, so it’s likely that they will start to defect to other resources.

If you’re a candidate, that means that you will need to keep one eye on LinkedIn and another on more traditional job posting sites, as well (larger ones like Indeed or niche job boards). You’ll also need to pay extra attention to your own social media profiles so you can be found more easily (and show up professionally) across multiple platforms.

Hiring teams are also embracing other social media platforms like Facebook, which launched a job platform in the past year and has many active groups for job seekers. Now, sophisticated recruiters can set up candidate targeting tools through Facebook’s ad platform, so you may start to see job ads that seem like they’re uncannily made for you (they are!).

> Leveraging influencers

In mainstream marketing, brands work with influencers like the Kardashian/Jenner clan to boost their brand’s visibility. After all, your brand gets a lot more traction when someone with a lot of followers/connections endorses you.

For job seekers, an influencer marketing strategy translates into traditional job search networking, on steroids. One of your main job search strategies will need to include finding, nurturing, and connecting (in a non-annoying way) to your own industry influencers, who can then connect you to job leads.

How? By building your own personal brand platform within your industry (using LinkedIn, primarily) and serving as a connector and thought leader in your own right, you can attract and engage the influencers in your own industry who will advocate for you.  If you’re not ready for that step, you can still connect with influencers on social media (who doesn’t love a follower?), at a conference, or through a mutual connection.

> “Customer Experience” 

This trend in the marketing world focuses on creating an emotional, memorable experience between seller and customer. It aims to bring a personal, real-life touchpoint with a brand’s products (think: whiskey tastings, hands-on demos, etc.), or create some kind of immersive, emotional connection between the company and its customers.

Here’s how that relates to the job search: with so much digital noise these days, candidates and companies have to work 10x harder to capture each others’ attention. In this low-unemployment market, companies are embracing the need to build a better “candidate experience” that captures and nurtures job seekers. You may see more candidate experience events, materials, or employment-focused mobile apps/microsites to try to solidify a company’s “employment brand” as an employer of choice.

As a job seeker, you can embrace this trend to help set yourself apart as a candidate. Companies will be looking for compelling proof points that you can deliver the goods, well beyond just your resume. For job seekers this may mean building a portfolio, developing a consistent thought leadership presence on LinkedIn, building a (personalized) presentation deck for interviews, and/or being ready to demonstrate your expertise outside of your typical job search materials.

(Just for clarification for more adventurous souls: please don’t bring whiskey to your job interview).

> Chatbots, Texting & IM

Although the majority of job search activities still happen via email, recruiters are experimenting with newer, faster forms of communication with job seekers. From LinkedIn’s InMails to chatbots, texts, and other forms of instant messaging, the job search is increasingly moving outside of the inbox.

Job applications, job interviews, follow-ups, job seeker FAQs and more will be increasingly moving to chat instead of in-person, but won’t replace real human to human contact throughout the job search.

Candidates should be ready to reply quickly to texts and IMs, and embrace the format rather than be annoyed by it. But – job seekers beware – it’s still an employer-driven medium. At the moment, you should still not be the first to initiate contact in an IM or text format, in case a hiring manager still prefers email.

> Video & Voice

LinkedIn integrated both voice messaging and video into its platform this year. Since LinkedIn’s a connection marketplace for candidates and employers, it’s likely only a matter of time before these make their way into the job search process.

Forward-thinking candidates are already starting to post videos of themselves, their accomplishments, and/or their industry participation to help build their personal profiles. As for voice, I don’t think it will be long before recruiters to leave “voicemails” for candidates on LinkedIn instead of leaving the platform to use their own phones.

> Personal Branding

This isn’t a new concept, but it’s more important than ever. Candidates need to stand out with a distinct, clear message of their value to potential employers. This may take the form of a resume, LinkedIn profile, website, social media presence, and/or digital portfolios on industry-specific sites such as github (for developers) or behance (for designers).

Given the emerging dominance of the Gig Economy, it also means having an exceptional bio and personal profile that you can deploy on contract-work sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and more. (If your personal brand needs a boost along any of these lines, reach out via our Coach Finder page to find a career expert to help you polish up your pitch.)

> Artificial Intelligence (AI)

63% of recruiting professionals surveyed by Korn Ferry at the beginning of 2018, a full year ago, already felt that AI had changed the face of recruiting. This coming year, even more tools are available that bring AI into a job search. This includes AI-driven interviews, emotional scoring of candidates’ facial expressions during conversations, chatbots, predictive career paths, and more. There’s even research happening that uses AI to scrape your social media posts and analyze them for personality characteristics and job fit.

As more technology tools become available, and hiring companies’ ability to leverage AI increases, its use will continue to spread throughout the recruiting lifecycle. Although it may be tempting to skip out on an interview with a recruiter-bot, or roll your eyes at a chat-based job application, successful job seekers will need to embrace and engage with whatever tools/approaches a company uses to find talent.

> Database Marketing & Retargeting

In response to LinkedIn’s higher costs for recruiting, companies will get even smarter about how they leverage their own candidate databases that they’ve built over the years. Recruiters will continue to get more sophisticated, performing data mining on their past candidates to identify and nurture potential candidates for current roles.

For candidates, this means you need a resume that’s tailored enough for one specific job at an employer, but flexible enough to “stand the test of time” and be interesting for future roles as well. It also means that you shouldn’t shy away from well-timed, thoughtful outreach notes to companies that have previously interviewed you, since they may have a new opening that’s perfect for you this time around.

Key Takeaway

Like it or not, the job seeker experience is evolving rapidly and requires a new level of strategy and skill. Those who thrive and find work quickly will be those who find ways to show their relevance in a fast-paced job market. The companies and candidates who understand today’s best marketing strategies, some of which are outlined here and some yet to unfold, will be the ones who get the best results in the job market.

If you have questions, or would like some help getting yourself ready for a strategic, efficient job search, reach out via our Coach Finder page to find a good coach match for your particular situation.